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Claire Moshenberg's picture

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! While we may be entering the most wonderful time of the year, holiday feasts can also make this the most toxic time of the year too. Steaming dishes full of green bean casserole, wriggling slabs of cranberry sauce, endless pies: these delicious Thanksgiving staples are often home to toxic ingredients. Luckily, a few easy swaps can make your holiday dishes safer and healthier. Use the tips below to give your Thanksgiving feast a nontoxic makeover!

Side dishes: Creamed corn or spinach, and green bean casserole, are annual must-have side dishes for many Thanksgiving menus. Unfortunately, both of these holiday foods often contain multiple canned ingredients.  Don’t ditch your favorite treats because of BPA in cans; a little tweaking can take this pesky toxic chemical off the menu. For green bean casserole, use fresh or frozen green beans. Buy organic if it’s possible, and no matter what, make sure to thoroughly wash your produce. The same rules apply for creamed corn and spinach. The Breast Cancer Fund has a simple recipe for homemade creamed corn that could also be adjusted to make creamed spinach.

Pie fillings: Canned pie fillings might be easy, but they’re also home to BPA. BPA in Thanksgiving Canned Food, a new report by the Breast Cancer Fund, found BPA in Libbys pumpkin pie filling, a staple of many Thanksgiving pantries. Use simple recipes to develop your own pie fillings, like  this Tips Tuesday apple pie filling recipe. For pumpkin pie, use these tips from the Breast Cancer Fund to roast your own pumpkin and create your own filling. If the pumpkin roasting feels intimidating or takes up too much space, replace pumpkin with simple squashes or try a sweet potato pie instead.

Turkey: When you're choosing a turkey, the Environmental Working Group recommends selecting an organic or antibiotic-free turkey.  You can also use this guide from Healthy Child, Healthy World to find the healthiest turkey for your Thanksgiving table.

Gravy and Green Bean Casserole: Skip the canned gravy and make your own with this simple recipe from the Breast Cancer Fund. If you're in a time crunch, many supermarkets now carry boxed or jarred gravies. Replace canned mushroom soup with a jarred, boxed, or homemade version. Green bean casserole is such a classic in my house that I gave it a nontoxic makeover so I could keep it on my Thanksgiving table. You can find my recipe here, or create your own by subbing out canned ingredients for BPA-free alternatives.

Cranberry sauce: I have really good cranberry sauce news for you. If, like me, you’re a fan of the canned version, you’ll be happy to find out that the homemade, nontoxic version is both easy and inexpensive. The Breast Cancer Fund has this recipe for a simple, three ingredient cranberry sauce .


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