Nothing tastes as good as nostalgia, and the truly loved dishes are the ones that can transport you back to childhood. Unfortunately, traditional Thanksgiving foods can rely on a lot of processed ingredients, and if your family is set in their ways, it can be difficult to convince them to say buh-bye to the boxes and cans. But it’s worth it. Because cooking with fresh ingredients tastes better, is better for you—and it’s seriously easy. Here’s how to have a turkey dinner featuring whole foods, so you can kick the cans, but keep all of the flavors you love.
Canned Cranberry Jelly vs. Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest
It wiggles. It jiggles. It’s delicious. But canned cranberry jelly contains 24 grams of sugar per serving, which is nearly the daily limit—you might as well be spooning 6 teaspoons of sugar onto your plate. On the flip side, fresh cranberries are an old-school superfood, bursting with antioxidants. So buy a pound of fresh cranberries, pour them into a saucepan, and let them simmer down with some water, orange juice, and zest. Admittedly, cranberries are tart, and you may still need a sprinkle of sugar. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly sweet, and you get to control the quantity.
Green Bean Casserole vs. Green Beans & Wild Mushrooms with Toasted Almonds
Ah, those retro casseroles. Remarkably beige, you can hardly recognize a vegetable. Between the butter, cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions on top, green bean casserole is one of those holiday foods that makes dietitians shudder, ringing in 227 calories and 15 grams of fat per serving—just for a side dish. But of course, fresh green beans and wild mushrooms are low in calories and absolutely delicious. Sauté mushrooms in extra-virgin olive olive oil, stir in finely chopped shallots and garlic, and fold in the green beans, cooking just until tender-crisp. A sprinkle of toasted almonds adds crunch.
Boxed Stuffing vs. Whole-Wheat Stuffing with Fresh Herbs
Did you know the second ingredient in a typical box of stuffing is high-fructose corn syrup? Followed by some ingredients that only a chemistry student could understand. Translation: you’re serving your family refined carbs, dehydrated vegetables, and fake flavors. You know what’s just as easy as opening a box? Tearing up a loaf of crusty whole-wheat bread! It’s even a fun job for little hands, if you’ve got some mini helpers in the kitchen. Toss the torn bread with sautéed onions, carrots, and celery, drizzle with reduced-sodium chicken stock, and add a couple of big handfuls of chopped fresh herbs. Then stuff it in the oven.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.