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THANKSGIVING: Healthier Ingredients That Are Easy Switches

Chef Gerard Viverito is a culinary instructor and operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and center on local, sustainable and organic foods. He has a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.

Here’s what he shared with us regarding preparation of a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

1. Buy a turkey that is 100% bird.

Order an organic pasture-raised bird from a butcher or a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution made from added sugar, salt and artificial flavorings, that increases their weight by up to 12%. Look closely: These birds must be labeled as “basted,” “marinated” or “injected.” Additives are not allowed in fresh turkeys.

2. Ditch the boxed stuffing.

That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oil, the primary source of trans fats. Nix all the prepackaged stuffings—many contain trans fats or other unhealthy ingredients—and pick up some day-old bread. Have the kids help by tearing the bread into pieces the night before. Create a family tradition with homemade stuffing.

   
Thanksgiving Dinner
A great meal without trans fats and additives. Photo courtesy Munchery.com.
 
Pass up the canned crescent rolls.

Refrigerated dough products including crescent rolls often contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), as well as emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides which may also contain trans fats. Easy drop biscuits take just 15 minutes to make and require just a handful of ingredients.

Another thought: With all the food on the Thanksgiving table and rich desserts to follow, do you really need bread?

 

pecan-pumpkin-pies-cutouts-ws-230
Make your own pie crusts. Store-bought
crusts often contain trans fats. Photo
courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

  Rethink the mashed potatoes.

Don’t take the easy way out and use instant potato flakes. They may also contain trans fats.

Chef Gerard suggests a move beyond mashed potatoes to mashed root vegetables. If your crowd is sophisticated or health conscious, they may actually prefer it.

Cook a medley of potatoes, parsnips and celery root, flavored with garlic and nutmeg, and mash away.

Avoid the gravy packets

Many powdered gravy mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and artificial colors. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.

 

Don’t Buy Prepared Crusts

Frozen pie crusts are one of the worst trans fat offenders. If cake is a family favorite, beware of trans fat-rich canned frosting.

Thanks, Chef Gerard!

  




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