In addition to giving thanks for all our wonderful benefits, Thanksgiving is about the food. The bountiful variety of foods available for our nourishment and pleasure certainly gives cause for celebration.

Thanksgiving is a day to focus on appreciation. It is not a time to lament how much we need to diet. Focus on all the benefits of a healthy meal enjoyed in thanksgiving. A typical Thanksgiving meal provides nutritious foods.

Commonly, the holiday begins with appetizers. Humus with sliced vegetables and whole grain crackers or triangles provides a nutritious start without overloading on fats. Shrimp cocktail is an appetizer option that does not have saturated fat.

Turkey is a standard Thanksgiving meat. Many immigrants recall their first Thanksgiving in this country when they proudly procured a turkey. Many laugh about figuring out how to prepare it.

The meat of a roasted turkey is particularly nutritious. A four-ounce serving of breast meat without skin is 168 calories. This leaves many other eating choices to fill a daily caloric allotment.

After carving off turkey meat, quick cool the carcass and refrigerate. The bones are great for making turkey broth. Avoid Black Friday madness. Instead, slowly simmer the turkey bones with pieces of onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings. Cool, strain and freeze portions along with leftover turkey meat to make hearty soups on cold days.

Cranberries are high in polyphenols known for helping the body process glucose. Homemade cranberry sauce can be cooked easily with less sugar than canned.

For mashed potatoes chose Yukon gold. Boil and mash in their skins. Wash well and save time by not peeling potatoes. These skins are tender and add extra nutrition. Nutritionally, potatoes provide potassium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin C as well as dietary fiber.

Sweet potatoes are not related to white potatoes or yams. White potatoes are part of the nightshade family including tomatoes. Sweet potatoes are part of the flowering morning glory family of plants. A sweet potato is a root vegetable, the part of the plant that is eaten while a white potato is technically a tuber.

Sweet potatoes, at times, have been confused with yams, which are not common in the United States. Yams are related to lilies and are starchier. Yams originated in Africa and commonly are part of Caribbean cuisine.

Sweet potatoes are a source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and many other vitamins. They are a modest source of potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. To best retain nutrients, boil sweet potatoes with the skin on. With a high oxalate content and since vitamin A is stored by the body, sweet potatoes should be eaten in moderation.

Pumpkin provides nutritional benefits similar to other holiday foods plus being a great antioxidant. A crustless pumpkin pie is a tasty dessert with less calories than traditional pies.  Evaporated milk, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 egg plus 2 large egg white, 1 teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Bake in a non-stick coated glass pie pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool. Option: Sprinkle top with crushed ginger snaps before serving.

Relax in the evening with hot tea or hot cocoa. Cocoa is rich in flavanols which is known to support blood vessel function. Add mint to your relaxing beverage for added benefits. Even the Egyptians, over 3500 years ago, acclaimed mint as a digestive aid. With each sip give a mental “thankyou” for something enjoyable.

State Foods Supermarket, 2649 Blossom Street, is open on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for customers with last minute needs. Shop locally first for Thanksgiving food needs and for holiday gift giving. Local merchants and vendors care.

Janet Miller

Janet Miller is a freelance writer specializing in family faith. She offers Family Prayers and Activities: Weekly Guides on compact disc for families to explore the Bible together. Email