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Secret Ways to Cut Thanksgiving Calories

Let's face it, your family is looking for the real deal around the holidays, not a low-fat version of anything.

No doubt, your Thanksgiving table will be filled with full-fat, full-flavor deliciousness. Which is fun on the day, but tough on your waistline.

But there are sneaky adjustments you can make to your favorite holiday recipes that will save you calories without sacrificing flavor.

Diane Henderiks, known as "the Dietitian in the Kitchen," shared low-fat options on "The Early Show Saturday Edition" that could save you more than 1,000 calories from the feast - pretty good, considering that a typical Thanksgiving dinner has more than 2,000!

Diane's secrets:

Pumpkin Pie: Whole wheat pie crust for regular, evaporated skim milk and low fat cream cheese for half & half, egg whites for whole eggs, True Lemon for salt, no butter

Mashed Sweet Potatoes: No butter, less brown sugar, buttermilk for cream, lots of spices

Creamed Spinach: Evaporated skim milk and flour for cream, no butter, water chestnuts for flavor and texture

Green Bean Casserole: Homemade crispy onions for the store bought fried ones, low fat cream of mushroom soup for full fat version (I would normally use the cream of mushroom soup from my cookbook but time was short), 1 percent milk for half and half, no butter

Sausage and apple stuffing: Turkey sausage for pork sausage, no butter, lite (40cal per slice) whole wheat bread for white bread, lowfat milk and low sodium chicken broth for half and half, egg whites for egg yolk.

Recipes from Diane Henderiks:

Diane's En-light-ened Creamed Spinach

1/4 cup low fat milk
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove; minced
1 cup thinly sliced leek - pale green & white parts only
2 lbs. fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
½ Cup water chestnuts - finely chopped
2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt & freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl whisk milk and flour. Set aside

In a large saucepan sauté garlic and leek in oil for about 2 minutes.

Add spinach and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in milk mixture and cook about 2 minutes until begins to thicken.

Add cream cheese, water chestnuts & nutmeg. Stir until cream cheese is blended in.

Pour into baking dish, cover & bake for 5 minutes. Uncover, bake an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; stir and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serves 4 - 6

Diane's Quick & Easy Green Bean Casserole

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
3 large mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1 can (10 - 3/4oz.) low fat cream of mushroom soup
½ cup lowfat milk
¼ cup evaporated skim or 2% milk
1 tsp. black pepper
1 ½ lbs. green beans, trimmed and cooked until crisp-tender


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place flour in ziptop bag.

Place sliced onions in even layer on baking sheet.

Sprinkle with salt and shake pan.

Add onions to bag with flour, zip closed and completely coat onions with flour.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large sauté pan. Shake excess flour from onions and add to pan.

Stir and cook until onions brown. Set aside.

Saute mushrooms in oil until tender - about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk together soup, milk and black pepper in medium bowl. Gently stir in string beans, mushrooms and half of onions.

Pour into baking dish and bake, uncovered until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with remaining onions and bake another 5010 minutes until done

Serves 6 - 8

Diane's Pumpkin Pie

1 ½ cup pumpkin
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
¾ cup lowfat milk
½ cup lowfat cream cheese
½ cup evaporated 2% milk
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ packet TrueLemon

9" unbaked whole wheat pie crust


Place rack on bottom shelf of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Combine first 11 ingredients together in large mixing bowl, beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Pour mixture into pie crust.

Place on bottom rack of oven and bake for 15 minute (TIME this step!)

Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean (a bit of moisture is OK) - about 35 minutes. Cool.

Serves 8

Diane's Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes; baked & cooled
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups lowfat buttermilk
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
½ packet TrueLemon
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and roast until tender - about 30 - 40 minutes.

To remove skin easily, peel potatoes while still warm then mash well in large bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, TrueLemon and 1 ½ cups of buttermilk.

Add mixture to sweet potatoes and mix well adding additional milk until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Diane's Apple and Sausage Dressing

12 cups (40 cal per slice) whole wheat bread
1 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup chopped celery
2-3 apples (use a variety), peeled, cored and chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped sage or 1t dried
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary or 1t dried
1 tsp. dried ground oregano
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped thyme leaves or 2 tsp. dried
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 egg whites; beaten
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup low sodium chicken broth


Preheat oven to 275°F.

Crumble bread into bite-sized pieces and place on baking sheets. Bake until dry but not browned, about 10 minutes. Cool & transfer to very large bowl (I use a big stock pot).

Saute sausage in large, heavy skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes until cooked, breaking up with the back of a spoon. With slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl and set aside.

Add oil to same skillet and heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, apples, sage, rosemary & ground oregano. Saute until onion and celery soften; about 5 minutes.

Return sausage to skillet and toss to combine.

Pour mixture over bread. Add thyme and pepper. Combine all ingredients together with hands.

Add chicken broth. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix in eggs, evaporated milk and broth. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer to baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until heated through (about 40 minutes)

Uncover and bake until brown on top (about 10 minutes).

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