Detox Your Thanksgiving Meal with BPA-Free Holiday Favorites

Chow on 11.19.12
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Your Thanksgiving meal is no doubt delicious, but it could also be packed with enough bisphenol A to adversely affect your health. Bisphenol A (also called BPA) is a chemical widely known as hormone disruptor and toxin that lines most canned products, such as pumpkin, corn, cranberry sauce, green beans, and gravy. A recent study also found a link between high levels of BPA and childhood obesity.

Unless you make everything from scratch, it can be difficult to find BPA-free options when pulling together your holiday dishes. Luckily, many food producers are catching on by updating the types of packaging used to deliver some of your favorite staples. Even though BPA-free packaging is a growing trend, there are still only a few sources for BPA-free prepared food to help you reduce your explosure to the toxin during the holidays.

1. Cranberry Sauce

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Your great-aunt may have her heart set on the cranberry sauce in the shape of the can, but it's time to modernize her holiday favorites. Try Trader Joe’s Cranberry Sauce ($2), made in small batches in New England using cane sugar and pectin and packaged in glass jars. Or for a BPA-free version that's organic, too, look for Pacific Natural Foods Cranberry Sauce ($4) in whole berry or jellied versions, both of which contain organic cranberries, organic sugar, and water.

2. Gravy

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If you're not an experienced enough cook to guarantee lump-free gravy, then relying on a pre-made version gives you one less thing to worry about -- so you can focus on perfecting your mom's homemade stuffing. Imagine Natural Creations Turkey Gravy ($3) is an organic turkey gravy made with turkey flavor, spices, and cane sugar. It is thickened with tapioca starch, which is a common gluten-free repacement for white flour. Trader Joe’s Turkey Gravy ($1.50) gets its flavor from turkey broth, potato flour, and spices, and happens to be gluten-free as well, which is a big plus in our household. 

3. Pumpkin

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Even the most dedicated "make it from scratch" chefs aren't ashamed to use canned pumpkin in their pie recipes. If that's you, look for Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Mix ($3). Farmer’s Market began using BPA-free lined cans in July 2011 and focuses on canning organic, GMO-free pumpkins and squash. The product tends to be dense, but the consistency depends on the year’s harvest; just add a little water to achieve your desired consistency before adding to your recipe. For a thinner product, try Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree ($4). The label on this organic pumpkin puree indicates that the lighter consistency should not impact the results of using it in any recipe -- I found the consistency of the sample they sent me similar to purees that I make from fresh roasted pumpkin.

4. Vegetables

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Canned corn is one prepared item that is always on my table for Thanksgiving. BPA-free frozen corn, the obvious substitute, just doesn’t taste the same to me, but it's proving difficult to find a guaranteed BPA-free can of corn (though the Trader Joe's version seems promising). Maybe next year I'll can my own from fresh ears during the summer. 

I was also not able to source BPA-free green beans, except for those found in the freezer section. Although they taste different than canned green beans, it seems that frozen ones may be your best option for avoiding BPA (or you can try picked green beans, which come in a glass jar).

5. Cream of Mushroom Soup

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Condensed cream of mushroom soup is a staple for pulling together many vegetable casseroles, a basis for dips, and even used as a homemade soup base. Amy's Semi-Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup ($3) is part of the Amy's Kitchen line, which started using BPA-free can liners in March 2012. The cream of mushroom soup is condensed enough to easily use in recipes but thin enough to be enjoyed as a soup. It contains all organic mushrooms, vegetables, and spices. For a non-condensed option, try Imagine Natural Creations Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup ($3), which can be reduced in a saucepan or used as a base for many recipes. It is organic and contains portobello mushrooms, organic vegetables, and spices.

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