November 25, 2008

The good, the bad: the gravy

Thanksgiving is not a holiday known for restraint. But it is a holiday known for gravy. No matter how moist the turkey, we always seem to want to pour a little gravy on it. Or a lot.

But the thing is, a quick look at the ingredients of most canned gravy (sodium, sodium, and more sodium) make it clear that it really isn’t the best part of this wonderful holiday. Health-wise, that is.

And here at Bread for the City, we’re making a great effort to be more health-conscious. That means Thanksgiving, too; it’s not like diabetes and heart disease take the day off to go home, kick back, and watch the game.

So this year, Bread for the City took a remarkable step: we stopped including canned gravy in our 10,000+ Holiday Helpings bags.

But here’s the thing: we were already giving clients the most important ingredient for homemade gravy -- the turkey! And it’s actually possible to achieve an optimal combination of good nutrition and good flavor.

Well, Bread for the City is fortunate to get free copying from a local print shop, and so we included a note in English and Spanish in each food bag with a simple, healthier, and hopefully even more delicious turkey gravy recipe. Here it is:

  • Start by putting the drippings from your turkey in a pot.
  • Then add some fresh garlic or garlic powder, or other herbs or spices you like.
  • Bring it to a boil.
  • Stir in a little flour (whole wheat, if you have), slowly adding more until it’s the thickness you want.
  • The gravy will thicken more when cooler.
But the simplicity of the homemade gravy isn’t even the best part.

I was surprised to learn that gravy was one of the most expensive items in our food bags last year. By booting gravy from our holiday bags, we’ve helped make room in the budget for our new healthier offerings: low-sodium stuffing mix, no-salt canned vegetables, rice, and even fresh produce. Day in and day out, we’re stuffing the food bags with fresh sweet potatoes, greens, butternut squash, and the like. Pretty cool that getting rid of some unhealthy canned gravy is helping to make that happen.

Eat well and enjoy!

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