Our favourite Canadian Thanksgiving staples
Must-have dishes for the table
Canadians have observed Thanksgiving as a holiday since 1879. While several amendments to the day have occurred since, then many of our traditions have remained the same, like the foods we enjoy, including squash, pumpkin, turkey and cranberries, all thanks to the farmers who produce them.
While every table is different, we compiled a list of facts for our must-have dishes for Thanksgiving.
The goodness of a fantastic wheat bread can’t be beat in stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you’re from). Substituting white bread for whole wheat/whole grain bread will add texture to your stuffing, while also adding vitamins and nutrients like fiber, iron, selenium and magnesium.
Try this recipe for whole wheat apple cranberry stuffing at your Thanksgiving dinner.
Sweet potatoes, sometimes referred to as yams in North America, are neither yams nor potatoes. They belong to a group of herbaceous vines called morning glories. They’re high in beta carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body, which is good for your eyes, as well as for promoting an overall healthy immune system.
American sweet potato mash commonly contains marshmallows—Canadians use maple syrup and brown sugar instead.
In 2017, over 2.2 million turkeys were sold for Thanksgiving in Canada, accounting for 31 per cent of all turkey sales for the year.
You know that sleepy feeling you get after eating Thanksgiving dinner? You can blame that on tryptophan, an amino acid that helps make serotonin, which helps regulate sleep. A widespread myth is that turkey contains a lot of it, which is why you may feel tired after the big meal. It’s more likely that the combination of carbs, sugars, fats, and sheer volume of food consumed is why you feel tired, but we won’t tell your family if you pretend your post-dinner nap is because of the turkey.
Gravy is often made with the drippings of cooked meat, and then thickened with wheat flour (thank you, Life’s Simple Ingredient!) Spices and other elements are totally optional.
“Jack O’ Lantern” pumpkins can be used for pumpkin pie filling, but most commercial or canned fillings are actually made with other varieties of squash, including butternut, giromon, and calabaza.
Pumpkins are native to North America, and pumpkin pie recipes go back to the 1650’s, making it one of the oldest dishes on a Thanksgiving plate. It’s gone through variations, however; it’s widely believed that the oldest recipes for the pie were more soup-like. From there, it evolved into stuffing a pumpkin full of other fruits, spices, milk and sugar and baking it whole. It’s possible that the pumpkin pie we know today was added to Canadian Thanksgiving tables in the 19th century, but several conflicting theories to the origin exist.
Squash is an excellent source of nutrition. It’s high in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants, and more. In addition to its nutritional value, it’s got anti-inflammatory properties, carotenoids (for improving skin), B vitamins that boost metabolism, and good dietary fiber. Pass another slice our way!
Cranberries are a superfruit. They are high in vitamin C, A and K, as well as antioxidants that have potential cancer fighting properties.
About 95 per cent of cranberries are processed into sauces, juices, or dried out. Fresh cranberries are generally too tart or bitter to consume fresh. Roughly 20 per cent of all cranberries harvested in a year are consumed at Thanksgiving.
In addition to the traditional cranberry sauce served with Thanksgiving dinner, try them in these cranberry orange muffins.
There are more than 8,000 varieties of apples, which is more than any other fruit. But the crab-apple is the only one native to North America. Apples are high in vitamin C and dietary fiber (the latter being found mostly in the skin). They’re great for overall brain health and brain function, as well as lowering cholesterol.
It takes 36 pieces of fruit to make four litres of apple cider, and it takes nearly a kilogram of apples to make one nine-inch pie. How about dem’ apples?!
Bring the best of two classic desserts together with this recipe for churro apple pie for a new Thanksgiving family tradition.
What do you put on your plate during Thanksgiving? Anything we missed? Leave us a comment below, or tweet at us @LifesIngredient!