Most of us will be enjoying a meal with loved ones next week. And not just any meal–THE meal. Thanksgiving dinner is typically the most calories any of us will consume in a single sitting for the year; the average American will take in 3,000 of them. It’s nothing to shake a stick at. This meal of champions includes one particularly special cheat-day food: gravy!
It’s not every day that you get to eat white flour browned in meat fat drippings. Oh, and don’t forget the salty broth it’s made with! Mmmm.
A food that rich can't be good for you, right? Your instincts would be right on with that one. Gravy is high in fat, which isn't great. But as long as you're eating it in moderation, the fat content is not the problem.
Again, that doesn't mean you can hit the gravy boat everyday. But there is more to gravy than just the fat: the bleached white flour, the saturated fat, the nitrates. There's a dark side to gravy, or at least how some are prepared. We're here to educate you on the good, the bad and the ugly. Happy holidays, y'all!
How Is Gravy Made?
Gravy is prepared by browning flour in a flat pan, then slowly adding liquid (usually stock or broth) and simmering and whisking the fond until it's perfectly thick. Sorry, thicc. The best gravy makers know to really get those bits of meat and browned fat off the bottom of the pan and whip them, whip them good. Is your mouth watering yet?
Bleached White Flour
White flour is made by removing (most of) the nutrients from the wheat. What's left is mostly starch which has a high glycemic index, which causes your your blood sugar to spike, which makes you hungry faster, which causes you to eat more, which causes you to gain weight. These are the processed foods your mother and the media have been warning you about. But that's not even the worst part.
The worst part is that white flour is typically bleached in chlorine which creates a poisonous byproduct called alloxan, that is diabetes-inducing.
Don't want your blood sugar to spike? Ask that your host use organic wheat flour instead of white in the gravy.
Saturated fats are like regular fats, but more awesome. Just kidding. They're terrible for you. Saturated fats clog your arteries, in sum.
And the most terrifying possible ingredient of all (especially for store bought varieties and restaurant dishes like biscuits and gravy) is nitrates. Sodium nitrate is a preservative used in processed meats such as bacon, lunch meets, jerky and more, increases the risk of heart disease. Nitrates are carcinogens when cooked. It's all kinds of bad!