Thanksgiving is about as traditional as you can get. The holiday has been around for centuries, and the celebration of it really hasn’t changed much. Essentially, you gather family and friends around a table, eat some turkey and slip in to a food-fueled haze. Frankly, it can be a little stale (much like the leftovers).
In an effort to shake up the holiday, we’re taking on some of the most persistent myths about Thanksgiving. From sleep-inducing turkey to a show-down of the spuds, here are some holiday “facts” that you may want to get checked.
Myth 1: Turkey makes you sleepy
Want to take a nap after ingesting an enormous Thanksgiving dinner? It must be the tryptophan in the turkey! However, that’s not the case. While turkey does contain tryptophan, and tryptophan does make people sleepy, there’s not enough of it in your turkey dinner to have any effect. More likely you’re sleepy because of holiday stress, alcohol or the giant meal you just ate.
Myth 2: White meat is better than dark
Dark turkey meat has more calories and fat than white meat. It also has more vitamins and minerals per serving. Not only that, but because of the higher fat content, it has a juicier flavor which makes for better-tasting leftovers.
Myth 3: Fresh pumpkin is better than canned
Just because it’s canned doesn’t mean it’s bad. Cans of pureed pumpkin from the grocery store are a better bet for bakers who want consistent results from their baked goods. If we’re being completely honest, it also makes for better flavor. If you absolutely have to cook and bake with fresh, make sure to grab the sugar pumpkin variety. Others are mealy and watery, which makes for pretty poor pie.
Myth 4: The built-in thermometer is reliable
You’re turkey has one of those built-in thermometers? That’s great if you want to overcook your bird. Most of those thermometers are designed to pop once the interior temperature of the turkey reaches 180°. By the time it gets to that temperature, you should expect a turkey to rival the Griswold’s.
Myth 5: Drinking more can cure a hangover
We’re the first to admit we enjoy a good drink, and many use the holidays as a reason to imbibe. However, if you’ve overindulged, drinking more isn’t going to make you feel any better. Instead, grab a glass of water and take a nap. Time and re-hydration are the only real cure.
Myth 6: It’s safe to cook stuffing in your turkey
First things first: stuffing and dressing are not the same. Dressing is baked outside of the turkey, and stuffing is, well, stuffed inside. It could also give you salmonella. Because the stuffing cooks in the turkey, it’s exposed to the bacteria in the raw meat. So for a safer side dish, go with dressing. If you really want to, you can still stuff it in the turkey after both are fully cooked. Either way, try our Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing our our Gluten-Free Stuffing recipes.
Myth 7: Sweet potatoes are healthier than white
Everyone knows that sweet potatoes are better for you than white potatoes. Except for when they’re doused in butter, sugar and marshmallows. While sweet potatoes pack a more potent nutritional punch, the white varieties are a great source of antioxidants as long as you don’t overdo it on the toppings like butter, sour cream and bacon. Both sweet and white potatoes have their nutritional benefits, just watch the toppings (that’s why we put honey and thyme on our mashed sweet potatoes).
Myth 8: They ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving
Everyone knows we eat turkey and potatoes on Thanksgiving because that’s what the Pilgrims and Native Americans did. How can that be a Thanksgiving myth? Well, potatoes, sweet or white, weren’t a part of the English diet at the time. Turkey was available, but not likely the main course. Most likely they dined on venison and seasonal vegetables.