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thanksgiving-cornucopiaThanksgiving – it’s a feeding frenzy and a day of guilty pleasures. We eat more than we should – and oh my – the calories! Here’s how to have an epic Thanksgiving dinner with a nutritional boost, and save on the waistline at the same time.

1.  Serve soup as a first course. A vegetable soup would go nicely with the rest of your Thanksgiving meal. The water and fiber in the soup is satisfying, so we will eat fewer calories.

2. Add parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Two or three parsnips would be fine, depending on how much mashed potatoes you make. Parsnips look like a white carrot and can be prepared the same way. Peel the parsnip, cut in chunks and add to the potatoes when cooking. Whip as usual. Parsnips have vitamin C, folate, and manganese and will add a little sweetness to the potatoes. Use soy milk rather than cow’s milk when making mashed potatoes to forgo the antibiotics and hormones found in cow’s milk. Skip the butter – the parsnips add a subtle sweet flavor everyone will enjoy.

3. Add nuts to your vegetable dish to dress it up. Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts are all good choices. Your dish will look fancy without much effort. Roasting the nuts before adding to the vegetables will add an additional dimension of flavor. These nuts have healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. Walnuts contain B6 and thiamin. Pine nuts have vitamin K, E, and niacin.

4. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of your salad. These add a burst of flavor everyone will enjoy. Wear an apron while removing the seeds, as the juice will stain clothing. One way to minimize the squirting juice is to fill a bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half. Under water, break open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will float to the top of the water. Save time Thanksgiving Day by doing this the day before and refrigerate them. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and several minerals.

5. Instead of candied sweet potatoes, serve whipped sweet potatoes. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes in water. Drain and whip them. Since they are sweet, no brown sugar or butter is needed. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is all you need. If they are thicker than you like, just add a little soy milk.

6. Desserts can really do us in! This Pumpkin Tofu Pie is a hit with all my family – vegans and carnivores alike. Don’t let the tofu scare you. This contains the same spices and tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie minus the eggs and cream. The pie crust is Mary McDougall’s recipe. The filling I adapted from several recipes. Use organic pumpkin and apple juice concentrate if possible.

Crust – 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal, 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix the Grape Nuts and apple juice concentrate. Pat into a 9” pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool before filling.

Filling – 1 1/2 packages Mori-Nu Extra Firm silken tofu, 2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups real maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cloves. Preheat oven to 350º. Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into pie shell and bake for about 1 hour.

7. Finally, spend some good quality time together with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. After dinner, go for a walk together. (Yes, those of us in the Midwest can bundle up and get outside). Set the DVR before you leave. You can go out for a walk and enjoy each other’s company and not miss one play of the game.

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