2018-11-14 / Features

Gobble This

By Liz Goff
The first Thanksgiving may be significant for bringing together the Pilgrims and Native Americans. But the feast we celebrate today wasn’t recognized as a holiday until Honest Abe took office.

President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday on October 3, 1863, hoping to bring two warring factions to the table for a friendly meal and peace talks.
Lincoln hoped all Americans, from both the north and south, would use the holiday to “heal the wounds of the nation,” caught up in the Civil War.

For most people, Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season of eating and socializing with family and friends. Kids, young and old, watch in wonder as Fifth Avenue is turned into a festival of sight and song, welcoming the holiday season, Santa’s elves and jolly old Santa, himself!

The turkey takes center stage at most Thanksgiving dinners, and most recipes are passed down through generations. After all, who can resist your mother’s traditional bird, bursting with grandma’s chestnut stuffing – surrounded by bogs of cranberries, veggies and the rest?

The Pilgrims didn’t fill their plates with stuffing on the first Thanksgiving, opting to use vegetables, fruit and dry herbs to fill the bird because they never thought to use bread. Bread stuffing was introduced to the first Pilgrims years later; by more “sophisticated” settlers who shared family recipes.

Retail experts estimate that more than seven million turkeys are sold in New York City in the weeks and days leading to Thanksgiving. The average family, with three children and two adults, typically carves up a turkey weighing between 20 and 22 pounds.
Americans nationwide will consume approximately 500 million 20-24 pound turkeys this Thanksgiving, bursting with 535 million pounds of stuffing.

Professional chefs recommend that cooks use sliced bread, rather than whole loaves, to stuff their birds. Chefs also recommend that you use only fresh bread, not day-old bread that can change the taste of the stuffing.

By the way, stuffing is only stuffing when it’s cooked outside the bird, and it’s known as “dressing” when it cooks inside the turkey.

Did you know that the typical meal gobbled down on Thanksgiving could tally more than 3,000 calories?

Officials at the city Department of Health (DOH) have again released an “official” list of traditional Thanksgiving dinner items and their calorie intake for your use in computing the “calorie-value” of your holiday meal:
Food Item            Calories        Food Item        Calories
Turkey                40 per ounce        Chocolate        150 per ounce                                Potato Chips        150 per ounce
Stuffing            400 per cup        Liquors        125 per ounce
Gravy                800 per cup        Fudge            145 per ounce
Mashed Potatoes        300 per cup        Fruit Salad        100 per cup
Baked Potato              20 per ounce        White Wine        20 per ounce
Mixed Vegetables        80 per cup        Egg Nog        300 per cup
Candied Sweet Potatoes    45 per ounce        Crotons        10 per ounce
Cranberry Sauce        30 per tbsp.        Onion Dip        30 per tbsp.
Green Bean Casserole        250 per cup        Mixed Nuts        800 per cup
Dry Tossed Salad        40 per cup        Sour Cream        30 per tbsp.
Salad Dressing        70 per tbsp.        Cake             110 per ounce
Soup                150 per cup        Cookies        140 per ounce
Rolls, Bread            80 per ounce        Popcorn
Pecan Pie            130 per ounce        (Air Popped)        25 per cup
Whipped Cream        40 per tbsp.        Popcorn
Ice Cream                        (Bagged, Salted)    75 per cup
(Not Gourmet)            300 per cup                            

The list does not include hors d’oeuvres, cheese and crackers, cheese platters and other appetizers, DOH officials said.

“Hopefully, this list will help people choose foods that will fill them up without weighing them down,” a DOH spokesperson said.

Many home chefs are substituting mashed cauliflower for potatoes and are serving fresh grilled, boiled or broiled vegetables in place of traditional stuffing and dinner rolls. Any menu can be turned into a feast that satisfies the palate while cutting back on fat, calories and sodium, the spokesperson said.

Cut the amount of butter called for by your grandmother’s recipe, substitute a low-calorie sauce for gravy and use less salt when preparing the turkey, the spokesperson said.

Prepare fresh vegetables instead of canned, using a sprinkle of salt substitute, where needed.
Salt lovers who need to cut down on sodium should try a product like Diamond Crystal’s “Salt Sense,” the spokesperson said. “It’s real salt, processed to contain 33 per cent less sodium than whole salt. And it has the true taste of salt,” the spokesperson said.

Cooks can also cut back on fat and calories by serving low-calorie fresh fruit compotes, sliced, fresh fruit and low calorie frozen yogurt instead of the traditional fat-filled pies and ice cream served at the end of the Thanksgiving meal.

“Serve celery stuffed with low-calorie cream cheese, carrot sticks, sliced peppers or other veggies before the meal, instead of high-fat, high-calorie appetizers,” the spokesperson said.
“Cutting back on fat, sodium and calories can make your Thanksgiving meal more enjoyable for guests who won’t feel as stuffed as the turkey.”

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