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Thanksgiving "Skinny Sides"

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Serve these healthy (but tasty) side dishes with your turkey to avoid Turkey Day guilt.

thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is the time to reunite with friends and family, and to give thanks for our blessings. For many of us, though, the mere thought of Thanksgiving dinner brings to mind endless hours at the gym repenting for overindulgence. It's no wonder, since the average Thanksgiving dinner has more than 2,000 calories!

The turkey may be the centerpiece of the table, but the true stars of the Thanksgiving feast are the side dishes. Why not start a new tradition and modify some of your Thanksgiving favorites to make them a bit healthier? With a little help from the "Dietitian in the Kitchen," Diane Henderiks, you can cut down on fat, salt, sugar, and calories without sacrificing flavor or feeling guilty about your choices.

Follow these sensible holiday tips to fully enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, and the entire holiday season, without feeling guilty or gaining weight:

1. Don't go to a holiday dinner hungry. Have a wholesome breakfast and lunch and eat a light snack before you go. You are more likely to overeat and make unhealthy choices if you are famished.

2. Stick to your exercise program. Physical activity can help regulate your appetite and burn off some of those extra holiday calories.

3. Choose drinks wisely. Alcohol is high in calories; one drink can contain from 150 to over 400 calories.

4. Deprivation leads to overindulgence! Taste everything you desire, but watch the portions of high fat and high sugar items.

Dinner Plate Diagram

Fill your dinner plate this way:

1. Fill half of your plate with sauce-free, steamed, roasted, or baked veggies. Not the starchy ones like potatoes, turnips, corn, or peas -- those count as starches.

2. Select a total of 1 cup of cooked starches -- rice, pasta, noodles, breads, stuffing, and starchy veggies. One cup is approximately the size of a tennis ball.

3. Choose 3-6 ounces of lean protein. A three-ounce portion is about the size of a deck of cards.

Check out these "Skinny Side" recipes from Diane Henderiks:

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cranberry, Orange, & Ginger Relish

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Dried Apricots

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