Many of us use the holidays as an excuse to go off the rails, diet-wise. While traditional foods should be enjoyed this time of year, it’s possible to indulge with less guilt. The trick is to make a plan.

Many items on the Thanksgiving table are perfectly healthy options, including roasted turkey, baked or steamed butternut squash, and fresh cranberry relish. The trick, however, is to watch the butter, sugar, and gravy – and adhere to one all-important rule.

“Just remember to keep in mind portion sizes,” warned Doralynne Jarvis, RD, LN, director of Nutrition Services at Yankton’s Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. “I think it’s important to enjoy the holidays, but always be mindful of what and how much you are eating.”


Baked Apples (2 servings)




– 4 medium apples, cored and cut into small pieces

– 2 T honey (use brown sugar or artificial sugar, if preferred)

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

– Juice of 1/2 lemon


– Preheat oven to 370 degrees

– Toss ingredients together in small baking dish

– Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes


Roasted Butternut Squash 



– Butternut squash, halved and seeded (an ice cream scoop works great)

– 2 T butter

– 2 T brown sugar (sub honey or artificial sugar, if preferred)

– Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt


– Preheat oven to 400 degrees

– Place squash halves rind-down on a baking sheet

– Use a knife to score the flesh of the squash

– Spread one tablespoon of butter over flesh of each half, reserving at least half for middle

– Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over each half

– Lightly sprinkle each half with pepper and sea salt

– Bake for 25-30 minutes (until flesh is easily penetrated with a fork)


Spiced Cranberry-Orange Relish 



– 10-12 oz. fresh cranberries

– 1 C water

– 1/2 C sugar (use an additional 1/4 C for sweeter; sub artificial sugar, if preferred)

– Juice of 1/2 orange

– Large strip of orange rind

– 1 T mulling spices


– Combine all ingredients in sauce pan

– Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes

– After cranberries have popped and mixture has thickened, refrigerate in covered container until dinnertime


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