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From Your Table to Your Health: Thanksgiving Lite

Dietitian Becky Varner shares ideas for how to celebrate a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.
BY BECKY VARNER Published: November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving is a time of the year when families gather to give thanks, spend time together and enjoy favorite foods.

Many folks want to hang on to traditional foods but also look at ways to make their Thanksgiving plate healthier. It is an opportunity to add more vegetables and fruits to the plate to create a new and healthful tradition.

Combining different vegetables and roasting or stir frying them is a wonderful way to add more vegetables to the plate. One idea is to lightly season and roast a variety of root vegetables.

Another versatile way to prepare a Thanksgiving side dish is to saute a vegetable. You might try doing this with a vegetable that may not frequently appear on your plate such as Swiss chard. Trying a new vegetable every Thanksgiving is a great tradition. Get creative with other ways to add vegetables and fruits. Serve a big mixed raw vegetable and fruit salad with a low-fat dressing. Serve a vegetable soup as an appetizer instead of a high-fat appetizer. Add spinach or kale to rice dishes.

Look for new ways to add whole grains to the meal. Use brown rice in the stuffing for the turkey or in a casserole. Or serve a nice brown rice pilaf as a side dish.

The traditional Thanksgiving turkey is a great choice for a lean protein. White meat is lower in fat than dark meat. Avoid the skin to keep fat intake lower.

Sometimes people prefer not to cook an entire turkey but just the turkey breast. A real simple way to do this is in a slow cooker, which is easier to clean than a roasting pan.

Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Rosemary Root Vegetables

Makes 8 servings

2½ pound butternut squash

½ pound sweet potatoes

½ pound gold potatoes

½ pound carrots

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8 x 11 inch baking dish with aluminum foil and then spray with a nonstick cooking spray.

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and fibers to discard. Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. We will only use half of the squash to roast in this recipe.*

Cut all vegetables in uniform size pieces about 1 to 1 ½ inch chunks.

Combine oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add vegetable chunks to bowl and toss several times to coat all vegetables with the seasoned oil mixture.

Pour onto prepared baking dish.

Bake 30 minutes until vegetables are golden and tender when pierced with a fork.

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Cooking classes

Becky will teach a cooking class featuring wilted Swiss chard salad, gingered fruit with walnuts, twice baked sweet potatoes and cinnamon glazed apples at noon Nov. 27 at the Buy For Less at 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave. She also will teach a class on making healthful Christmas gifts at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 4 at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond, and noon Dec. 5 at Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15 in Midwest City. Call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.


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