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Published:November 19th, 2009 19:45 EST

Fruits and Vegetables Bring Delicious Nutrition to Your Thanksgiving Table

By SOP newswire2


Who says Thanksgiving dinner can`t be healthy? Many of the staple ingredients of this holiday`s most loved dishes have redeeming healthful traits that can make this meal nutritious as well as delicious.

Elizabeth Pivonka is a registered dietitian as well as president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative. She is also a working mom who understands the struggle of putting a healthy meal on the table while still satisfying everyone`s holiday desires. Pivonka says, "There is absolutely no reason that a holiday meal can`t be a healthy meal! Adding just the right amount of culinary know-how to traditional recipes can transform this annual meal into a healthy feast."
No on will argue that turkey takes center stage this holiday. While naturally low in fat and high in protein, turkey is also a source of B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Pivonka suggests using a rack to roast the turkey so the fat drips away from the bird and basting with a flavorful fat-free broth instead of butter to cut down on the added fat.
It`s really the great abundance and variety of fruit and vegetable side dishes that makes Thanksgiving dinner the stand-out meal of the year. Some of the season`s best fruits and vegetables are traditional favorites. "What Thanksgiving table would be complete without potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin?" asks Pivonka. "Potatoes are full of good nutrition. They are high in vitamin C and a good source of potassium. Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber and high in vitamins A and C, as well as being a good source of potassium. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin A! Don`t forget about green beans, they are a Thanksgiving staple on many tables. They are a good source of fiber and vitamin C."
"This year why not add in other in-season items like parsnips, turnips, and winter squash," suggests Pivonka. "They are great ways to add variety to your holiday table and trying something new is always fun. Season vegetable side dishes with fresh herbs and low-sodium broth instead of butter to load up on nutrition without overloading fat and calories."
If your favorite stuffing recipe calls for sautéed vegetables, such as celery, onions and mushrooms, Pivonka recommends that you double the amount to boost the stuffing`s flavor and nutritional value. "You can also add additional veggies, like carrots, broccoli, or leeks, even if they aren`t called for in the recipe. Eating a variety of different vegetables will ensure you get a variety of different vitamins and minerals."
She also advises that you serve healthy appetizers before the meal to lower calories and up nutrition. Have fruits and vegetables with low-fat dips for your guests to enjoy before meal time and pare back portion sizes at the table so you won`t feel as stuffed as the bird after the meal.
Fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Pivonka says, "Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, so fill at least half of your plate with them! They are naturally low in calories and they provide fiber that helps keep your digestive system working well. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that your body needs to feel healthy and energized; just what you`ll need before that game of flag football with all the relatives after the meal."
If you`re in search of help for hosting that big meal, look at Fruits & Veggies-More Matters` autumn entertaining hints online at While there, search through the recipes to find innovative uses for your favorite fruits and vegetables or the inspiration to try something new.