Thanksgiving is upon us, so let the feasting commence! Thanksgiving is a day where it is completely appropriate to overeat. Well, maybe that is what we think. The truth is there is never an appropriate meal to overeat. When reflecting on many Thanksgiving memories in my life, I think of the people I spent it with first, and the meal second. The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with the people you enjoy or maybe don’t get to spend enough time with on a daily or weekly basis in your life. I feel lucky that I have so many wonderful memories of spending this holiday with my family and friends. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think about funny stories shared, turkey trot runs, crisp after meal walks, and interesting conversations, but I really don’t remember the food other than it is of course – always delicious!

I tend to get many questions this time of year from clients, friends, and family about preparing for Thanksgiving and what is the best way to “not overdo it.” My main piece of advice is to keep things small and keep yourself in control. One way to do this is to stay on a schedule the day of Thanksgiving and don’t skip meals. Try to keep your normal meal times to prevent overeating. If you don’t eat anything all day and Thanksgiving dinner isn’t until 6:00 or 7:00 pm, it is likely that you will be very hungry for dinner and overeat.

Another way to stay in control is to do a “walk through” before you prepare yourself a Thanksgiving plate. There are often so many options to choose from and many of the options available are starchy and full of calories (casserole, stuffing, potato dishes, for example). When preparing your plate, try to aim to include a light protein option, like skinless turkey, to help you feel satisfied, don’t skip the non-starchy vegetables (greens, salads) for added color and flavor, and choose a few starchy sides to taste.

If you want to take things a step further, you may opt to prepare some healthier versions of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes: green bean casserole and sweet potatoes. Since there are often more side dishes and desserts floating around than main entrees. I believe that these are the items that can get you into trouble with overconsuming on calories unless you practice control. You can also try to space out dinner and dessert with a walk in between to help the digestive processes and burn some calories. If there is more than one dessert option available that you would like to try, then choose small portions of each to equal one regular portion. If regular pumpkin pie is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert and you only indulge in it once a year, then enjoy a full slice, but remember that a regular size pie usually yields  eight slices. If the pie is cut and you only see six or less slices, then take a smaller slice.

I hope you enjoy these lighter fare favorites if you opt to include then at your dinner this year!

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Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour

2½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
2½ cups low-fat milk
1½ cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tips) or ½ cup shredded or crumbled cheese

Optional: chopped and sautéed shitake or baby bella mushrooms (this is a family favorite and I like the flavor and texture they give to the dish).

-green-bean-casserole-ideasPhoto credit = Pinterest



  1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F.
  2. Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms if using. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See Tips)
  4. When the green beans are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.
  5. Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.
  6. Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).
  7. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Roast green beans (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the green beans.

  • Tips: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs.
  • To add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in ½ cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.
  • Keep food fresh: If you’re storing food in your fridge for a few hours or more, it’s best to keep it in an airtight container or in a container covered tightly with foil. Foil is best at creating a barrier that doesn’t let unwanted flavors in (or out) while you store your food.

Serving size: about 1 cup Per serving: 188 calories; 7 g fat(1 g sat); 5 g fiber; 25 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 70 mcg folate; 4 mg cholesterol; 10 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1,128 IU vitamin A; 18 mg vitamin C; 182 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 348 mg sodium; 485 mg potassium

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Also adapted by

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour and 10 minutes

½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange sweet potatoes in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat.
  3. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Just before serving, reheat at 350°F until hot, about 15 minutes.

Serving size: about ½ cup Per serving: 92 calories; 2 g fat(1 g sat); 2 g fiber; 18 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 4 mcg folate; 5 mg cholesterol; 9 g sugars; 5 g added sugars; 11,108 IU vitamin A; 12 mg vitamin C; 32 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 119 mg sodium; 294 mg potassium

sweetpotsPhoto Credit =

Light and Luscious Pumpkin Pie

Pie Pastry
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup cooking oil
3 tablespoons fat-free milk

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
⅓ cup sugar or sugar substitute equivalent to ⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup evaporated fat-free milk


  1. To prepare pastry: Stir together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil and milk all at once to the flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into a ball.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. On a well-floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough; roll from center to edge into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. To transfer the pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease the pastry into the pie plate, being careful not to stretch. Trim the pastry to ½ inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold under the extra pastry; flute or crimp edge as desired. Do not prick. Line the pastry with a double thickness of heavy foil. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. To prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add egg and vanilla. Beat lightly with a fork just until combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  4. Pour the filling into the baked pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. Bake until the filling appears set, 40 to 45 minutes (the edges of the filling may crack slightly).
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. If desired, serve with dessert topping (light Cool Whip).

Tips: If using a sugar substitute, we recommend Splenda® Granular or Sweet ‘N Low® bulk or packets. Be sure to use package directions to determine product amount equivalent to ⅓ cup sugar.

Serving size: 1 slice Per serving: 187 calories; 6 g fat(1 g sat); 2 g fiber; 29 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 56 mcg folate; 1 mg cholesterol; 14 g sugars; 6,853 IU vitamin A; 2 mg vitamin C; 81 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 108 mg sodium; 198 mg potassium

pumpiePhoto Credit =


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