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Today is May 23, 2022

Featured Cookbook

Plated with Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. There is so much to be thankful for this time of year, between spending time with friends and family, eating delicious food and shamelessly napping during the day. Thanksgiving is the only holiday where the dinner table is the center of attention and no wrapping paper is required. And it offers you the excuse to pile your plate high with nutritious, Mississippi grown vegetables such as sweet potatoes, winter squash and green beans.

It is possible to plan a healthy Thanksgiving menu that doesn’t carve out the family’s favorites. You would be surprised at the simple swaps to traditional recipes that will give thanks to a healthy heart with fewer calories, added sugars and salt. From dips to desserts, healthy holiday eating is within reach, especially when you allow Mississippi’s homegrown produce to be plated, first. This holiday season, add several sensible side dishes to your Thanksgiving table.

Sweet potatoes are the darling of Thanksgiving and Mississippi agriculture. Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamins and minerals, thanks to their rich orange pigment and heart-protective fiber. Let the sweet potato’s goodness shine by trying a healthy sweet potato casserole that has no added sugar, limited butter, but still bursts with flavor. Or, simply brush four to six washed sweet potatoes with heart-healthy olive oil and slow cook them on high for 6 to 8 hours. Split and spritz cooked sweet potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Winter squashes typically find themselves on the table as seasonal decorations, but they can also be a star ingredient in holiday recipes. Like summer squash, winter squashes are low in calories and carbohydrates, but rich in wholesome nutrients. Butternut, spaghetti and acorn squashes have a dense texture with a firm flesh that holds up in hearty soups, casseroles, breads and desserts. Try roasted acorn squash sweetened with Mississippi honey and seasoned with nutmeg.

Don’t overlook the easy swaps to save Thanksgiving calories, allowing you to savor your favorite decadent dishes. Choose one traditional casserole to be the sidedish king and finish trimming the turkey with fresh-baked, roasted or steamed vegetables. Steam fresh green beans and sprinkle them with pine nuts for a simple, seasonal side dish. Show gratitude to your family and health by giving these healthier twists a try with classic Thanksgiving recipes.

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media and online at

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