OPINION: The secret ingredient: an open mind

KELLY BURGESS

Kelly Burgess

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Thanksgiving holiday is the array of diverse and delectable foods, some of which only grace our tables on the most bountiful day of the year.

Everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving food: stuffing (or dressing, if you will), turkey, green bean casserole, mac n’ cheese and sweet potato casserole just to name a few. While there are enough staple items to fill anyone’s plate, what about that weird dish that your aunt so-and-so always brings that has always mystified you? Do you dare touch the cranberry salad, broccoli casserole or creamed corn? Thanksgiving is the occasion to keep traditions alive as well as try new things.

Thanksgiving food is one part of the holiday we all undeniably look forward to, but the delicious food may come as a package with some less tasty ramifications as well. Family gatherings can either bring everyone together or highlight conflicts and differences. The best approach is to sit down at the table with an open mind, expecting different opinions and personalities, but ready to accept each as they are. Having the same attitude toward the food on our plates would do us well and maybe even lead to finding a new favorite this Thanksgiving.

With so many scrumptious choices available, why not set a goal to try a new food this Thanksgiving? According to wonderopolis.org, our taste preferences actually do change over time, sometimes causing us to have an affinity for new foods or disliking an old favorite. If you always gagged on broccoli or asparagus as a child, you probably aren’t alone. However, as we grow and age, our taste buds change, get replaced and become more or less keen to certain tastes. Since being in college, I now enjoy several foods that I never would have touched when I was younger. I was never a picky eater, but asparagus, black olives and mushrooms were just a few things that I couldn’t bring myself to eat. While I avoided these foods, something in my mouth must have changed, because now I voluntarily eat all of these.

Preparation method is just one strategy that might help you come around to a food you wouldn’t have eaten in the past. If you don’t like sweet potatoes, but then you try sweet potato casserole with cinnamon and marshmallows, you might change your mind! Plain cranberry sauce can be embellished by making a salad with fresh apples, crushed pineapple and regular or sugar-free gelatin. If you usually don’t like raw veggies as an appetizer, try putting them in a dip made with low-fat sour cream or yogurt and a ranch dressing mix. Thanksgiving is your opportunity to put a fresh spin on classic foods that your family enjoys. The beauty of the Thanksgiving meal is that each person and family does things a little differently, but there is enough in common for us all to relate.

This year, make it an occasion to try a new food individually, or put a healthier spin on a classic food with your family. An open mind is the secret ingredient for welcoming new people, ideas and foods alike! Challenge yourself, you never know what options are on the table.