Guard your health this Thanksgiving with sensible sides

Becky Varner has some ideas for walking Thanksgiving's potential menu minefield.
BY BECKY VARNER beckyvarner@cox.net Modified: November 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm •  Published: November 19, 2013
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Thanksgiving is full of traditions centered around food, which can lead to overeating.

The result is often feeling miserable later in the day. Traditional Thanksgiving foods are loaded with calories, fat, added sugar and salt. For example, turkey smothered with rich high-fat gravy, candied sweet potatoes, dressing or stuffing loaded with butter or other fats, cranberry sauce full of added sugar, heavily buttered vegetables and high-fat and high-sugar desserts.

This is a great year to prepare a healthier version of the traditional Thanksgiving meal that is lower in fat, calories and sodium and packed with nutrients and wonderful flavor. The Thanksgiving meal can include simple and delicious recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied instead of stuffed.

Enjoy the turkey but choose the white meat that is lowest in fat. Make lower-fat gravy by using a low-fat broth instead of the drippings from the turkey. Or, if you prefer to use the drippings, simply refrigerate them first to allow the fat to rise to the top and harden as it chills. Remove the hardened fat with a spoon and then use the stock to make the gravy. Use skim milk instead of whole milk if your gravy recipe calls for milk.

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to add more vegetables and fruits to the plate to create a new and healthful tradition.

Most Americans do not eat enough of either of these. And there are so many simple ways to enjoy them, such as serving a raw vegetable platter with hummus as a dip for an appetizer.

Sweet potatoes have a wonderful rich and sweet flavor without the addition of anything. Offer plain baked sweet potatoes or serve with a little bit of salt and pepper instead of a high-sugar and high-fat candied sweet potato recipe.

Lightly steam asparagus or bake acorn squash. Create a vegetable medley by using a small amount of olive oil to saute two or three vegetables such as zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, mushrooms or carrots.

Roast root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, carrots and beets and season with fresh rosemary.

Add a mixed vegetable salad or fresh fruit cup to the meal for another healthy option.

Included today are two recipes that are great side dishes to serve.

The first is a fresh Cranberry, Pear and Apple salad that is simple to make and absolutely gorgeous on a Thanksgiving table.

Fresh Cranberry Pear

and Apple Salad

Makes 6 servings

2 cups unsweetened apple juice

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ALSO ...

Learn with Lunch class

Becky will teach healthy Learn with Lunch cooking classes featuring Apple, Pear and Cranberry Compote, Turkey Soup with Fresh Kale and Toasted Almond Dessert Muffins at noon Tuesday at Buy For Less, 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave, and Learn with Brunch at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Uptown Grocery, 1230 W Covell Road, Edmond. Class size is limited. Call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.

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