Harvest a Nutrient Filled Feast

As you and your kiddo sit down to say Thanksgiving grace, embrace this cherished holiday with a nutrient feast. Read on to discover what you should joyfully gobble all day and year long.



It’s hard to picture a holiday feast without the turkey. After all, this bird has been an American staple since Plymouth (although it wasn’t on the original Thanksgiving holiday menu).

Health Benefits: Protein. Turkey is fully stocked with all the amino acids that are the building blocks for protein synthesis, which helps your kids develop and maintain muscle mass. Protein also provides the sense of satiety, meaning you can keep that rumbling tummy quiet awhile.
 Tryptophan. This amino acid helps support healthy levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that supports and contributes to feelings of a positive, good mood.



Cranberries are a favorite part of Thanksgiving celebrations, consumed as cranberry sauce, a juice or added to stuffing, casseroles and dessert. Relish this sweet and tart fruit.

Health Benefits: Vitamin C. Loaded with this powerful vitamin that fosters overall immune health, cranberries don’t dare skip out on the holiday festivities.
Antioxidants. The antioxidant proanthocyanidins in cranberries benefits oral health by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth, according to researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Cranberries also may be beneficial in preventing gum disease.


Green Beans

Conquer this giant with pride, whether fresh and whole or in a creamy casserole.

Health Benefits: Vitamin K. This vitamin pays dividends to overall bone health. It improves the bones by modifying bone matrix proteins, enhancing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.
Folate. Meeting daily folate needs helps with depression. This mineral can help prevent the harmful chemical homocysteine from formulating in the body. Studies indicate that too much homocysteine can stop blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain and interfere with the production of feel-good hormones.


Create Helping Hands

Your cooking load can get quite hefty for the holidays, making now the ideal time to teach your children about cooking and nutrition. To keep your kiddos enthusiastic about pitching in with the food prep, assign ability-appropriate tasks for a holiday recipe. Here are some ideas depending on your children's ages:

  • 5- and 6-year-olds: Snap green beans, prepare lettuce for a salad, pour liquids into batter. “By letting my daughter participate in the cooking process, she got a big boost to her confidence when she saw our family eating the dish we created together,” says Louise, Overland Park mother of two.
  • 7- and 8-year-olds: Rinse vegetables, mix and shake ingredients, measure dry ingredients.
  • 9- and 10-year-olds: Stir hot mixtures, broil foods in toaster oven, cut foods with a table knife.
  • Children age 10 and older: Slice or chop vegetables, microwave foods, bake foods in the oven, simmer ingredients on the stove.


Amy Hundley is a registered dietitian nutritionist, licensed in both Kansas and Missouri, and a published freelance nutrition writer. She is currently practicing as a clinical RD and has been a resident of Olathe since early childhood.


Sources: EatRight.org, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, University of Rochester Medical Center, National Institute of Health.

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