Guest Post by Nurse Barb: Naturally Sweeten-Up Your Child’s First Thanksgiving

Turkey Cran Relish

As I start to haul down the Thanksgiving decorations that remind me of visiting Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the very first Thanksgiving, I'm also thinking about families with children who might also be celebrating their very first Thanksgiving. I love having big groups to our house, especially when our friends bring their kids. Thanksgiving is so much more fun with little ones. Besides stuffing, my favorite part is not watching football, it's the group walk after and getting on the floor and playing with the kids!

I'm going to be busy! That's an understatement, so I've found some super simple and very fast recipes that will be prepped in minutes not hours. I want to concentrate on flavors, family and fun, not kitchen time. As a spokesperson for the National Honey Board, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and have learned a lot about how to use honey as a natural sweetener for cooking and baking, because it contains just one ingredient – honey! 

Honey locks in moisture and adds a boost of natural sweetness to any dish. I was surprised that there are more than 300 varietals in the United States, with tastes, flavors and colors that vary from light and mild to dark and strong. Each one adds a different flavor profile to recipes. It's been fun to experiment!

This year, in addition to a bunch of kids returning from college, we're so excited because Ty, who was just a few months old at last year's Thanksgiving will be 16 months and ready to gobble up lots of yummy new Thanksgiving foods. It will be his first real Thanksgiving with turkey, ham, mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry relish.

It's recommended that parents wait until after age one to introduce honey to their children. This is because honey is a natural product and may be a potential source of botulinum spores, which may put infants under one year at risk for developing infant botulism. Now that Ty is past his first birthday though, his digestive system is more fully developed and able to digest honey. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do check with your child's pediatric health care provider.

After age one, children may have honey in their diet. Many families are looking for ways to help their children try new foods and adding a little natural sweetener can help them be more receptive. I started by drizzling a little honey over carrots and then roasting them, which helped my son enjoy more color on his plate.

After my husband brines the turkey and pats it dry, before it starts its slow roast over cherry wood on our BBQ, I'll be rubbing on a combination of softened butter, honey, salt, pepper and chopped fresh sage to lock in the moisture.

And to top it off, we'll be making a light speed version of Honey Cranberry Relish.

You can also try my own recipe for Honey Sweet Potato Puree. This is easily adapted for Thanksgiving as a side dish. Once you complete the directions for the recipe, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the puree in a buttered, oven safe baking dish. Top with thinly-sliced oranges and bake for 30 minutes or until golden at the top.

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