Add color to your holiday table by choosing a variety of colorful vegetables and fruit

Turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes take center stage at Thanksgiving dinners, and vegetables can add plenty of color and flavor as well.

This year as you plan your holiday dinner, think about the many colors that vegetables and fruits can add to your table (or that of the host). Traditional choices include sweet potatoes, green beans, salads and cranberries. Elevate colorful vegetables to a prime place with the turkey and dressing. Create interesting color combinations by adding sautéed red peppers, onions and mushrooms to bowls of green vegetables. Serve some vegetables raw on a relish plate to tantalize those who shy away from cooked vegetables. A relish plate might include several cut-up vegetables as well as some fruits.

Young children might enjoy helping you choose vegetables in a variety of colors at the store. By having an important role in choosing them and how they are prepared or served, children will feel a sense of pride and be more willing to eat them. Try adding fruits or nuts to vegetables to make them more fun. You might also add mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, sunflower seeds or other favorites. You can find many recipes for vegetables and fruits through fruits & veggies more matters.

Seasoning combinations to try include dill seasoning on potatoes, green beans or carrots; nutmeg with sweet potatoes, carrots or rutabagas; rosemary with potatoes or carrots. Herbs can be added on vegetables or sautéed briefly in a few tablespoons of margarine and then tossed with cooked vegetables just before serving. Generally, herbs should be added to cooked dishes near the end of cooking, since they can develop a bitter or off-taste if cooked for too long.

After the feast is over, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you store leftovers in small containers in the fridge for up to three days. Small containers of food cool faster in the fridge to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Freeze what may not be used in two to three days to use in other recipes, such as skillet dinners, quesadillas or soup. Soup freezes well, so it is an economical way to use leftover foods and have some quick lunches or skillet starters in your freezer. You can also create a yummy casserole by layering turkey, gravy, sweet or white potatoes, a variety of vegetables and the stuffing in a casserole dish to bake.

Eating a colorful plate on Thanksgiving and throughout the year is something everyone can feel good about. Learn about incorporating other healthy tips into your holiday meal through MSU Extension food and health.

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