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A Burnt Orange Thanksgiving

Burnt orange foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and Longhorn pride. See which foods our nutrition expert recommends.

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burnt orange Thanksgiving foods

Something to be thankful for: Burnt orange foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and Longhorn pride. 

Gazing at the traditional Thanksgiving table, it quickly becomes clear that many of the most appetizing foods share one thing in common: they’re burnt orange.

And while that means your Turkey Day menu won’t clash with your Longhorn pride, it’s also good news for your health. Burnt orange foods have significant nutritional benefits derived from vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C and thiamine and minerals like iron, copper and potassium. In other words, burnt orange foods pack a good deal of what’s good for you.

Read more for burnt orange nutritional info, cooking tips and trivia from Sara Sweitzer, the Katherine Ross Richards Centennial Teaching Fellow in Nutrition in the School of Human Ecology.

burnt orange Thanksgiving foods

Burnt orange: scientifically proven to be good for you. 

Sweet Potatoes

The more color to a sweet potato, the more vitamin A it contains. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of potassium.

Tip: To prevent the flesh of the sweet potato turning black, place cut sweet potato in cold water until ready to cook.

Secrets for a Happy and
Healthy Thanksgiving

#1 It’s Ok to Fry Your Turkey

Most of the oil is absorbed by the turkey skin, says Nutritional Sciences lecturer Monica Meadows. The breast meat absorbs very little of the frying oil if the cooking temperature remains optimal throughout the cooking process.

Unless you eat the skin, there is little difference in calories and fat between the roasted and fried turkey, as long as the fried turkey is cooked in a healthy fat like peanut or canola oil.

Fried turkey

Click here for more Thanksgiving tips. 

Pumpkin Pie

An excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of calcium and iron. Iron is a component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, the oxygen carrying proteins in red blood cells and muscles. Iron aids with energy metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis (brain function) and immunity.

Trivia: Pumpkin pie did not become a staple of Thanksgiving dinner in North America until the 19th century.

Butternut Squash

Excellent source of potassium and vitamin A. Butternut squash also contains vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid and copper. Along with iron, copper helps in the formation of red blood cells. As a component of enzymes, copper an antioxidant assists in energy production and in the formation of skin pigment.

Tip: A butternut squash will keep unrefrigerated for about a month.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a good source of vitamin A and contains calcium.

Trivia: After the sugar beet, the carrot contains more sugar than any other vegetable, making it a perfect dessert ingredient.


Pumpkin (and other winter squash) is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A and contains vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid and copper.

Trivia: The canned pumpkin pie filling found at grocery stores does not contain the pumpkin typically used for jack o’lanterns. Pie filling contains a different cultivar of winter squash.


Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium (when raw). They also contain thiamine, copper and vitamin B6. Thiamine aids in energy metabolism and protein synthesis, maintenance of nerve tissue and production of DNA and RNA.

Trivia: Carrots can also be white, yellow, red, purple and black.

Related story: For healthy Thanksgiving recipes, including pumpkin French toast muffins, visit nutrition senior Claire Siegel‘s blog, The Slender Student.

Collage image credits (Clockwise from upper left): Flickr users Dave Lifson, Liz Davis, Shaina Olmanson/Cascadian Farm, babeinthecitykl, Brendan O’s, Maria Pontikis/Anthimeria.

Health news

This story is part of our yearlong series “In Pursuit of Health,” covering medical news and research happening across the university.