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A Healthy Thanksgiving Shopping List

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Some obvious themes pop up each time November rolls around. For starters, there’s the health focus on Diabetes Awareness Month and then, of course, the irony we health professionals face as everyone makes their plans for feasting during the coming holiday season.

But, wait — It’s not impossible to work both into aisle talks, food demonstrations and social media. Just remember the tools available to the supermarket dietitian! Lightening up the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are easy targets that satisfy the dual themes of holiday fun and health, but why not put some new twists on the messages? Try these for starters:

  • Safe gobbling — Along with ideas for cooking the turkey, share ideas for food safety from storing, thawing (if necessary) and handling the bird to cooking temperatures and wrapping the leftovers.
  • Options that fit diet needs — Although holidays seem to demand traditional recipes, customers will show appreciation for tips to meet the needs of increasingly finicky consumers, ranging from gluten-free and egg-free options to ideas for trimming some calories or sodium. Just a quick reminder that there doesn’t need to be a separate meal for those with diabetes, but do let them determine their own portions.
  • Singles or doubles anyone? — Families seem to be the center of holiday meal planning ideas but what about some traditional meals for smaller tables?  This is a good time to suggest the “planned over” game of cooking enough to freeze future meals rather than skipping the joy of traditional foods. Knowing how to roast ½ a turkey or some assorted parts is a first step.
  • Fruits and vegetables rule — Sides can make or be the meal. There are some traditional ones that are musts, but they can always be improved upon, or used in nontraditional ways. Cranberries can show up as an updated salsa along with the expected relish or sauce. And all of them are great with the turkey sandwiches that follow the next day! Try roasted cauliflower and Brussels spouts to add some calorie balance to the more starchy options. Offer raw veggies at the football break or a pumpkin dip with apples and pears for dessert.
  • Feature the extras — Meat (or turkey) thermometers, pomegranates (still in season) for decorating and enjoying eggnog (commercial is safer and dairy-free varieties can be a lot lighter), and ideas for decorating the table with the harvest-time fruits and vegetables.

And remember, part of the joy that comes from being health-smart is enjoying the food we see…..and eat! Enjoy the start of the holidays and share the bounty with our customers! 

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