The First Thanksgiving
When the Pilgrims first arrived in New England, they faced a brutal winter and many hardships. It was with the help of Native American allies, that their luck turned around. Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, taught the settlers how to cultivate corn, extract maple from maple trees, catch fish and avoid poisonous plants. Thanksgiving had not existed before this.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrim’s first successful corn harvest, the Governor organized a celebratory feast and invited the colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief. Now referred to as the “first Thanksgiving”, the festival lasted for three days!
While we’re not exactly sure of the entire first Thanksgiving menu, there are reports that the feast included venison and fowl, which could be wild turkey, duck, geese, or swan…there’s nothing definitive to suggest that turkey was in fact served! Historians also predict a bounty of fresh vegetables, berries, and fish.
The Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought and religious fast. Days of fasting and Thanksgiving on an annual basis soon became popular practice among other New England settlements.
When did the turkey become
a staple for Thanksgiving feasts?
Turkey became an American feast favorite in the 19th century. Possibly because it was readily available and relatively inexpensive.
We love turkey and we’re happy it has become a fixture. It’s full of lean protein, which makes it a wonderful addition to any meal!
Did you know?
Many people report feeling tired after eating Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey gets blamed due to its tryptophan content…an amino acid known to cause drowsiness. BUT recent studies show it’s the carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts that allow tryptophan to enter the brain. Meaning eating turkey without all the fixings may prevent the post-meal nap…but where’s the fun in that?
How to have the best and healthiest Thanksgiving ever:
Start your day with some exercise.
Go for a walk with family members or lead a family fitness class in the back yard.
Don’t skip meals.
Make sure you try to follow as regular of a meal pattern as possible. Skipping meals will have you feeling famished come feast time, which may cause you to over-indulge.
Set out some healthy snacks for the family to munch on during the day.
You could roast some nuts, or arrange a vegetable and cheese tray. Remember with each snack you want a good source of protein!
Try some friendly recipe substitutions.
Try applesauce for half the oil required in baked goods; Greek yogurt instead of sour cream; whole wheat flour over white flour; even brown rice for white rice; and low fat or fat-free dairy over whole fat dairy.
Think about the plate method when selecting your sides.
Fill half your plate with veggies, a quarter with carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes and corn), and a quarter with protein (like turkey).
Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol lowered inhibitions may cause you to over-indulge.
Skip the turkey skin.
Forego the turkey’s skin to keep your protein as lean as possible.
Most importantly, enjoy this time!
Thanksgiving Recipes of the Month
Best-Ever Cauliflower Stuffing from Delish
Swap bread for cauliflower and add another veggie to the table.
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
A classic non-starchy veggie with a decadent twist! I’ve made this recipe two Thanksgivings in a row!