Few Thanksgiving dishes lend themselves to customization — and dinner table partisanship — quite like stuffing.
You start with some type of bread product and stock, and that’s pretty much where the rules end. Endless ways and ingredients exist to make stuffing, so each home cook can prepare it exactly as he or she prefers. Here’s a look at some of the healthy — and not so healthy — stuffing ingredients you can choose from this Thanksgiving.
Often paired with nuts or other fruits, apples are a common ingredient in stuffings and dressings. Some apples fair better than others during the cooking process, and recommendations include perennially popular Granny Smiths and Jonathans. Among other benefits, apples support heart health and help regulate blood sugar — leave the skin on for the most healthful benefits.
Pecans are a nut we absolutely love but have to eat in moderation. Loaded with dietary fiber, they’re also exceptionally high in both fat and calories. It’s not all bad news, though — pecans have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol. If you want to add a little extra savory crunch to your stuffing this holiday, pecans might be just the thing you need.
Celery rears its head in many recipes for stuffing and dressing, and no wonder. This low-calorie food is brimming with antioxidants that benefit both heart and digestive health. Recipes can call for anywhere from half a cup to several cups of celery, so feel free to load up on the green stalks.
Another common stuffing ingredient, cranberries are often accompanied by other fruits like apples. Although healthiest when consumed raw, cooked cranberries are still an excellent, healthful addition to your stuffing. Research studies link cranberries to an array of nutritional benefits, including cancer prevention, improved cardiovascular health and immune system support.
We’ve never quite understood the need to add heavy meat to a dish like stuffing. Although it’s a good source of protein, sausage contains fair amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which over time can increase the risk of both stroke and heart disease. We’re leaving it out this year.