Update: Tasty Thanksgiving Substitutes

Here is one of my favorite posts from last year, a great reminder to myself as I get ready to cook this week.  What ideas are you trying out this season?  I'd love to hear from you!

"There is NOTHING like home cooking on Thanksgiving.  And there is nothing like turkey hangover after the meal is done.  Here are some sneaky substitutions to try this year to minimize the gut pains and maximize the family enjoyment.

1.  Sweet Potatoes:  There is not a can on the store shelf without corn syrup and sugar, so try fresh from your microwave!  Rinse a medium potato, pierce with a fork and wrap in a paper towel, then bake for 6-8 minutes until fork tender.  Let it cool, then peel off the skins and chop off the ends.  It's ready to slice or mash!  If you have a big group coming over, cook them ahead the night before.

2.  Green Bean Casserole:  Look for healthier cans of "Cream of Mushroom" soup and watch the salt content on frozen and canned green beans.  Mix fresh onions into the casserole and reserve the salty, dried onions just as a topping.

3.  Cranberries: Side or Garnish?  Fresh and frozen often need lots of sugar, so consider pureeing some with a bit of sugar for roll spread or turkey/ham dip rather than eating as a side.  If your family loves slicing the can of Jell, set out a whole berry dish as well; they may enjoy it.

4.  Stuffing:  I enjoy dry or fresh stuffing mixes but add more veggies to it.  While cooking your onion and celery, consider adding diced carrots, variety of mushrooms, shredded parsnips, and more so you change the balance from "bread stuffing" to "veggie/bread stuffing."  If anything, it adds tons of flavor!  Update: Read the labels on stuffing mixes.  Trader Joes and Sunflower Market also makes stuffing mixes if you opt out of fresh; aim for whole grain rather than enriched.

5.  Heavy, Creamy, Fatty.  These are my stomach-killers if I over eat them.  Substitute one cup buttermilk for one cup 1% milk with 1 T lemon juice (mix and sit on counter for 5 minutes).  It's not as thick but has the same flavor.  Oil can often be replaced by sugar-free applesauce in baked goods, and try a saute with oil instead of butter.  If you love gravy, aim for less salt and low-fat milk this year.

6.  The Big Bird.  I'm very curious to try a brined or fried turkey, but we have always cooked our turkey in Reynolds Oven Bags, a "roasted/steamed" version.  The bags come with perfect cooking times for every variation and adjustment.  Incredibly easy to use if you remember this: place the pan low in the oven and be sure to make a few 1” slits in the top of the bag or it may burst."

Oh, and don't forget to wash your hands... :D

Readers: What healthy new item are you sampling this season?


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