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This year has brought me a few extra pounds and the associated health problems. High blood pressure was already a problem, and now my usually uber-fast metabolism has come to a screeching halt. I gained 14 lbs this year (I hadn’t gained 14 lbs in 14 years before that), and the holidays aren’t going to help that number. My parents have also shown an interest in healthier eating, so I spent some time looking for some healthier options to our usual feast. Luckily, turkey is already super healthy (unless you fry it), and then I don’t really eat much dessert…so I’m only covering sides. You’re on your own with dessert!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

My broccoli cheese casseroleI just tested out this recipe tonight. It’s really good! Although it’s lacking that Cheez-Whiz goodness, you can still add more or less cheese. Just remember that’s where the majority of the salt and calories are in this dish! You can also use fat free evaporated milk, margarine instead of butter, and brown rice to shave off a few more calories. I also roasted the broccoli (just because I can’t stand steamed veggies), but I don’t think it changed the taste at all.

Green Bean Casserole

Cutting out the canned soups in these recipes is the key to cutting out the sodium and fat. This one calls for low-fat milk, but I am going to try the fat free evaporated milk again. The other change I would make would be to ditch the bread crumbs and the onion, and instead mix in those awesome French’s fried onions and toast them on top as well. You’re cutting out so much salt and calories, you can afford this splurge!

Sweet Potatoes

Next to the dressing, the sweet potatoes are my favorite part. I loooove the sugary goodness, with a yummy pecan streusel topping. But I think I can make this happen without my usual recipe’s 1/2 cup of sugar and half a stick of butter.

So I have 2 options. The first option is to lighten up the usual recipe, and the second option is to make the twice-baked sweet potatoes recipe I linked above. I decided to calculate the calories in both (I know, I’m a nerd) and choose that way:

Twice-baked Potatoes = 210 calories (100 from fat)

Sweet Potato Casserole = 420 calories (130 from fat)


The only way to cut calories for the casserole is to use half the sugar and half the butter (no, you will not die without it) and half the topping. It’s still do-able.

So even though it’s the holidays, you don’t have to ruin your diet, or your health just to get your fix.

Remember: don’t use canned anything, and don’t add salt. Let your guests add their own. The broccoli cheese casserole has a ton of salt in the butter and the cheese, and the green bean casserole will get its salt from the fried onions.

Find something for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving Day and every day.


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