The turkey is the quarterback of the meal, although my kids would argue it’s the pumpkin pie. Have you ever read the label of that Butterball turkey? Let’s break it down: sodium nitrites (neuro toxins and high blood pressure), corn starch (GMO’s) and natural flavors, which can cover 150 different chemicals, including MSG. My stomach’s cramping just thinking about those toxins. And did you know the brine injections intended to make that turkey juicy and succulent can account for up to 30% of the weight of a turkey?(1) What a waste of money! Just as in football where the quarterback accounts for a larger percentage of the salary cap, the first-string bird should as well. Buy locally-raised organic if possible, but if that doesn’t work out, there’s always the Hail Mary, I love you Trader Joe’s and Costco.

Let’s look at stuffing, like a fumble, the stuffing can break the momentum of the drive dependent upon what ingredients you add. Take Stove Top Stuffing for instance, according to the label it includes: high fructose corn syrup, and you wonder why little Johnnie is bouncing off the walls, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil (aka trans-fats), my arteries are cringing, and hydrolyzed soy protein (aka MSG) ouch, my joints are throbbing. I decided a few years ago to make my own stuffing.  And let me tell you, if I can do it, YOU can do it. Start with your favorite loaf of bread, my family loves the sourdough from Diamond City Bakery located in downtown Elk River. Cube it, toast it and viola you’ve got croutons. TIP: Do this the day before game day to save time.

And now for the end zone dance: pie. The classic Betty Crocker pecan pie recipe calls for light corn syrup, now little Johnnie’s throwing a tantrum on the floor, simple, replace it with organic maple syrup, again, Costco I love you. And pumpkin pie, our crowd favorite, may be high in fiber but is high in sugar as well. I cut the amount by a third and the season ticket holders are none-the-wiser. To help balance the blood sugar from all those carbs I serve the pie with organic whipped cream, which is high in much needed saturated fat.

As Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” Let’s be honest, it’s not difficult to make Thanksgiving healthier. Better choices are available. Everyone just needs to give themselves extra time, at the store to label read and to prep before the big game. Tip: make note of what you buy/change so it’s easier the next year. Your health is worth it!

  1. Sayre, Laura. “Shocking News About Meat.” Mother Earth News, Oscar H. Will III, June 2007,

Article written by Michelle Barton, owner of Restored Core Vitality