It is easier than you think to have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving! Here are some simple tips on planning a healthier meal.

1. Start small: When it comes to Thanksgiving, the biggest concern is not just WHAT you are eating, but HOW MUCH of it you are eating. Aim to have small portions of those high-calorie foods such as casseroles and desserts while filling up on lighter fare such as vegetables and lean turkey.

2. Talk turkey: Turkey is a great source of lean protein and is healthiest if you skip the skin and go for the white meat. If you prefer the dark meat, mix and match in order to get a little extra flavor without adding too much fat.

3. Veg out: Fall veggies such as squash and green beans are great side dishes that can add color and variety to the meal without adding too many extra calories.

4. Be sweet: Sweet potatoes are a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber that can make a tasty side dish or dessert. A healthy way to cook them is to cut them in half, sprinkle with orange juice and a little brown sugar, and pop them into the oven.

5. Kick the canned: Cranberries are packed with antioxidants that can help keep you healthy. Unfortunately, canned cranberry sauce is often also packed with sugar and calories you don’t need. Try making your own by mashing fresh cranberries with juice from an orange and a generous splash of apple juice concentrate.

6. Pick a pumpkin: Pumpkin isn’t just tasty. It’s a great choice that is high in dietary fiber, low in fat and calories, and loaded with potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Make pumpkin pies with canned, evaporated fat-free milk, half the amount of sugar in the recipe, a graham cracker crust and light or fat-free whipped topping for a light and tasty dessert.

7. Stuff with veggies: Opt for less bread in your stuffing and add more onions, celery, vegetables or fresh fruits such as pears or apples to make a lower-calorie version of the old standby. Try using whole wheat bread to make it an even healthier option.

8. Go fruity: Baked apples or poached pears are perfect, light ways to end any autumn meal. If you’re making a pie, try to use whole wheat flour in place of white flour.

9. Sacrifice fat, not flavor: Skim the fat from the juices when you’re making your gravy. Use low fat buttermilk or low-sodium chicken stock in place of cream or whole milk in dishes like mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes or butternut squash. You’ll achieve a creamy consistency and loads of flavor, minus the unnecessary fat and calories.

10. Steam and mash: Try sneaking in more low-calorie vegetables by mashing or pureeing steamed or boiled cauliflower with low fat milk. It’s a flavorful substitute for mashed potatoes and can help balance an otherwise potato-rich meal!

Visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com for more healthy Thanksgiving food tips and recipes.

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