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Thanksgiving Dinner: 6 Easy Ways to Cut Calories

Your Thanksgiving meal doesn't have to spell doom for your healthy diet. One classic approach is to decide beforehand which Thanksgiving dishes you want to devote the most calories to and back off on the others, says Molly Morgan, R.D., C.N.D., author of The Skinny Rules.

But an even easier way is to modify traditional Thanksgiving dishes so you don't have to choose. When you use these strategies, "your guests won't even know the difference, and you'll feel good knowing that you've made a healthier Thanksgiving meal," says Keri Gans, R.D., C.N.D., author of The Small Change Diet. Here are the best sneaky tricks to slash fat and calories from your turkey dinner and enjoy it all, guilt-free.  

stuffingThanksgiving Dinner: Stuffing

How to slim down: Cook stuffing in a dish by itself instead of inside the bird, where fat drippings add significantly to the calorie count. And substitute each whole egg with two egg whites to save 30 calories per serving. For instant portion control, bake your stuffing in muffin tins.

One more trick to slim down stuffing: Prepare it with barley instead of bread for a high-fiber, whole grain alternative. Try this easy recipe for multigrain stuffing with apples and currants.

green bean casseroleThanksgiving Dinner: Green Bean Casserole

How to slim down:
Swap out high-calorie sour cream for plain yogurt in your green bean casserole recipe to save about 48 calories per serving.

Use part-skim or low-fat cheese in place of the full-fat kind to save 2 grams of fat per serving or 16 grams total. This easy green bean casserole recipe has less than 100 calories per serving.

mashed potatoesThanksgiving Dinner: Mashed Potatoes

How to slim down:
Trade heavy cream for whole milk in mashed potato recipes to keep the creamy taste while saving 168 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving (that's 1,342 calories and 72 grams of fat overall!). Here are more simple tips to cut hundreds of calories from your meal—without even noticing.

mashed sweet potatoesThanksgiving Dinner: Mashed Sweet Potatoes

How to slim down:
Rather than using maple syrup to add flavor, try mixing in spices such as ginger and cinnamon (Bonus: Cinnamon is on this list of 7 foods that burn fat). For a tangy taste, add a little orange juice—you won't even miss the marshmallows on top!

roast turkeyThanksgiving Dinner: Turkey

How to slim down:
Contrary to popular belief, dark meat really isn't that much higher in calories than light meat, says Gans (white meat has 44 calories per ounce; dark meat has 53 calories per ounce). Eat whatever color meat you want, but avoid the skin since that has the most fat—you'll save more than 50 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving. Put your Thanksgiving leftovers to good use with this quick and easy recipe for turkey, spinach and mushroom crepes.

pumpkin pieThanksgiving Dinner: Pie

How to slim down:
Go ahead and have the apple or pumpkin pie, but instead of topping it with ice cream, try frozen yogurt to save 28 calories and 4 grams of fat. (More, if your portion size is more than a measly half cup!) You can also make lower-fat crust by using phyllo dough and butter spray.

If you prefer chocolate desserts, try these amazingly good recipes so low in calories you'll think we are kidding.


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