Have a Colorful Thanksgiving Feast

Chelsea, MA Chelsea colorful
By Jennifer Fox Williams, MPH

One the unexpected perks of Thanksgiving is how easy and enjoyable it is to eat a lot of vegetables.  Sound strange?  Of course pies, turkey and stuffing are mouth-watering.  But so are many vegetables, and with a little planning, you can enjoy a delicious and nutritious feast this Thanksgiving. 

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, getting a variety of fruits and vegetables is key.  Paying attention to the color of your fruits and vegetables is a quick and easy way to make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients.  Thanksgiving can be an easy time to do this, especially if your friends and family share in the cooking. 

Some suggestions to plan your menu ahead and assign dishes to your guests include:

  • As the host, decide to cook the main dish yourself or assign the main dish to a guest. Traditionally, the main dish is turkey, but roast chicken or pork shoulder can cut costs and be equally delicious. 
  • Make a list of several vegetables you would like to serve, and pay attention to including different colors. 
  • Ask your guests to choose a vegetable from your list, and make a dish using their chosen vegetable.  And don’t forget, pumpkin in the pie counts, as do apples and other fruits or vegetables in any recipes.  Some dishes can be made ahead, and some families prefer to spend time cooking together on Thanksgiving Day. 

For more information about which nutrients various fruits and vegetables provide how these nutrients benefit your health, click the following link: 

Fruit and Vegetable Color Wheel

For some colorful recipe ideas, check out the links below.  Be creative and use your own recipes as well.  Thinking along the lines of color can help you balance the meal and give your body what it needs.

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole (Yellow/Orange)

Nutrients include: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese, Copper, Panthothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Biotin, Potassium, Fiber, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Phosphorus

Collard Greens (Green)

Nutrients include: Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Manganese, Vitamin C, Fiber, Calcium, Choline, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Iron, Copper, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Protein, Phosphorus, Omega-3 Fats, Panthothenic Acid, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, Potassium

Healthy Garlic Mashed Potatoes (White)

Excellent source of: Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Potassium
Good source of: Fiber, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus

Quinoa Salad with Orange, Beets and Pomegranate (Red & Blue/Purple)

Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (59% daily value), Magnesium (28% dv), Potassium (18% dv), Iron (16% dv)

Cooking a meal can become part of the celebration.  Working together to make a feast that is both healthy and appetizing can be very rewarding!