Food brings people of all ages and relations together. By sharing a meal together, parents, grandparents, friends and kids gather round and share stories while building new and lasting memories. It’s also an opportunity to role model healthy eating habits and choices for children. Over the holidays, conversations linger and often include fun quotes, jokes and quirky facts about food and tradition. One quote shared with me that rings true is that ‘one’s love for food may be the most genuine type of love’.
Here are some festive food facts to share at your next family meal:
- Mandarin oranges were introduced to North America in the late 1800s by Japanese immigrants. They were gifts sent from their families in Japan to ring in the New Year. These juicy fruits were shared with Canadians and became a hit. Mandarin oranges were originally stuffed into stockings to add cheer during tough economic times.
- Egg nog is made from milk, sugar, eggs, and sometimes alcohol. It used to be considered a drink of the wealthy. The British would use eggnog to toast to prosperity and good health. Egg nog is a sugary drink to be enjoyed as a treat. Keep the taste and cut the sugar by mixing your egg nog with skim or 1% milk or add a splash to your coffee or tea.
- Is eating too much turkey the cause of sleepiness during the holidays? Tryptophan, an amino acid, which is found in poultry, is commonly associated with sleepiness. However, turkey and chicken contain roughly the same amount of tryptophan. The cause of fatigue during the holidays is more likely from overeating (and all the festivities) than it is from consuming turkey.
- Cranberries are a fruit native to North America. When ripe, cranberries can float and bounce like a ball. This is because of the small air pockets inside the fruit.
- The tradition of celebrating Christmas with a tree originated in Germany. These trees were originally decorated with apples, cookies, candies, and cakes hung with ribbon and paper chains. If you like the idea of decorating with food during the holidays, check out this feature on making a healthy edible centrepiece.
- Some people can’t stand the taste of Brussels sprouts, but why? People that dislike Brussels sprouts may be among the one in four people who are ‘supertasters’. Because of their genes, supertasters experience the sensations of bitterness, sweetness, or spiciness more intensely than others. A quarter of the population are ‘non tasters’ and the remaining half of the population are ‘medium’ tasters. For all you Brussels sprouts lovers out there, here is an easy recipe to enjoy them while they are in season.
- Fruitcake is a traditional holiday treat. Because of the abundance of candied fruits and sugars in this decadent cake, it was considered “sinfully rich” and was outlawed in Europe in the early 18th century. It became popular again in the 19th century when it was included at tea time in England. Since fruitcake is an indulgent treat, enjoy it by sticking to a small serving.
If you enjoyed these festive food facts with your family and friends, check out Better Together’s Let’s Talk tool for other mealtime conversations ideas. Feel free to share other topics you like to talk about over family meals below.