Updated: July 25, 2013

Hello! Continuing the holiday theme, I have more "Thankslimming" tips to share. If you're planning this year's dinner or you have strong input into the day's events, here are 4 ways to seriously lighten up, without sacrificing a bit of flavor or fun:

Swap out the apps. Instead of cheese and crackers, spinach dip or cheese puffs, serve up a variety of veggies, from grilled asparagus spears or veggie kabobs to cherry tomatoes stuffed with field greens lightly tossed in balsamic vinaigrette or marinated button mushrooms.

Pare down your menu. A lot of hosts end up serving multiple sides and desserts because it's what they always do, but many aren't favorites and end up getting eaten just because they're there. This year, survey your family and friends to find out what the can't-live-without dishes are and forego the rest. It's worth the effortless work for whoever is cooking, less food on the table, and fewer leftovers.

Lighten up your staples: Replace the whole milk and butter in mashed potatoes with vegetable broth, mashed cauliflower, garlic and fresh herbs like parsley, chives or rosemary. Ditch the sausage and butter in the cornbread stuffing and fold in more chopped veggies, chestnuts and cranberries. Instead of creamy sauces and cheeses, lightly coat veggies with herb-infused oil using an oil mister filled and grill, roast or broil them.

Start a new tradition. If your holiday typically revolves around eating (or eating and watching football), try something new this year. TiVo the game and spearhead a family/friends fun day! After a light dinner (or smaller portions as per yesterday's post) gather up your group for some games or activities, from good old-fashioned charades to Wii. Or, rent a learn-to-dance video and get everyone in on the action. If the weather is nice or you live in a warm climate, move the party outdoors for anything from touch football to volleyball. If it's wintery, go sledding, ice skating, or build a snow family. Planning an after dinner activity can really help take the focus off of food, and you may be more motivated to not get so stuffed.

So what do you think? What strategies work for you and how to you handle this food-focused holiday? Please share!



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