This post was originally published on September 21, 2015 and updated on November 19, 2020.
Last Thanksgiving, you lovingly prepared a holiday meal with all the trimmings for your family. You chopped, you baked and you frosted. Unfortunately, that classic holiday meal may have been loaded with trans fats. Before you bring Grandma’s good china out of the attic, rethink your holiday menu. Consider mashed root vegetables with Malaysian sustainable palm oil instead of mashed potatoes with diglycerides and preservatives. A few healthy swaps may make this year’s feast better for your family as well as the planet we call home. Here’s how to make a holiday meal without trans fats.
Buy a turkey that is 100 percent bird
If a turkey is at the center of your table, order an organic pasture-raised bird from a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with up to 12 percent of a solution containing added sugar, salt and artificial flavorings. These birds must be labeled as ‘basted’, ‘marinated’ or ‘injected’. Additives are not allowed on fresh turkeys.
Ditch the boxed stuffing
That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oil, our 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 your little ones help by tearing the bread into pieces the night before. Create a family tradition with homemade stuffing.
Pass up the canned crescent rolls
Refrigerated dough products including crescent rolls often contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides. These may also contain trans fats. Easy drop biscuits take just 15 minutes to make and require just a handful of ingredients.
Move beyond mashed potatoes
Instead of typical mashed potatoes, get praise from everyone at the table with mashed root vegetables. It is a medley of potatoes, parsnips and celery root enhanced with garlic, nutmeg and Chevre. Include heart-healthy Smart Balance spread for a buttery taste your family will love. As an added bonus, this spread is made with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. The Malaysian palm oil industry is a model for sustainable agriculture, so this meal will be good for the planet, too. Don’t take the easy way out and use instant potato flakes. They may also contain trans fats.
Avoid the gravy packets/chemical soup
Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings. Many powdered gravy mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and artificial colors.
Branch out with an exotic dessert
If pumpkin pie is on your list, be sure to make your own crust. Frozen pie crusts are one of the worst trans fat offenders. If cake is a family favorite, beware of trans fat-rich canned frosting. Consider making a more exotic dessert, such as pissota con l’oio made with red palm oil, lemon zest and a sweet liqueur.
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