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Be thankful for healthier Thanksgiving feast

Published: Thu, November 21, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Beth Stefura

OSU Ext. educator, family & consumer sciences

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your blessings and is often centered on a feast with family and friends.

That dinner usually features traditional dishes such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams, green-bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and homemade pies.

This can easily add up to 3,000 calories.

But it can be healthy with just a few modifications:

Turkey, the star of the day, is a lean protein and contains no saturated fat — unless you purchase a self-basting turkey that has been injected with butter or oil. Avoid these and baste the turkey with low-fat, low-salt broth, wine or juice. Avoid rubbing the bird with butter before roasting. Try heart-healthy olive oil, chopped fresh herbs and garlic for a healthy, delicious option.

Mashed potatoes. Instead of using whole milk, use skim. Save yourself some time and leave the skins on to provide extra fiber and potassium.

Stuffing. Switch from white bread to whole-wheat for the benefits of whole grains. Instead of butter, use low-sodium chicken broth to keep it moist without the added fat or calories. Add flavor with fresh herbs and vegetables such as carrots, celery and onions. Adding dried fruit is another delicious option.

Green beans. Use fresh or frozen green beans and skip the cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions. Other options include brussel sprouts, broccoli or asparagus.

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so eliminate the brown sugar and marshmallows and add maple syrup or honey during the baking process to enjoy their great flavor.

Cranberries. Forgo the sauce and use fresh cranberries in a relish with half the sugar, fresh oranges and orange juice.

Gravy. The key to great-tasting gravy is using the drippings from the roasting pan with the fat skimmed off. This provides plenty of flavors without adding fat or calories. Skip added butter, which adds up in calories and fat.

Squash. Cut it in bite-sized cubes, toss with a small amount of olive oil and fresh herbs and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast until softened.

Additionally, take reasonable portions and enjoy a walk after dinner. Show your thankfulness for the harvest and support local farms. Go to ohiomarketmaker.com or laketoriver30mm.org to connect to a local farmer offering local products.

For help on the big meal, see go.osu.edu/bigdaycook.

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