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Heart healthy can taste good for Thanksgiving

Heart health is an issue that is on the mind of many people as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Is it possible to create side dishes to enjoy on this special holiday that are both delicious and heart healthy? Yes it is. It just requires that you keep the normal rules for heart healthy dishes in mind. Side dishes are the delicious extras that make that turkey really shine.

The Mayo Clinic has developed a heart healthy diet plan. By incorporating their suggestions into your Thanksgiving dining plan, you can create a dinner that is both delicious and heart healthy.

Stay away from processed food

Processed food is high in sodium so it is best to create as many dishes from scratch as possible. What that means is not opening a box or a bag to make stuffing and using fresh cranberries to make a delicious cranberry relish.

Heart healthy cranberry relish

This is a simple very basic recipe for cranberry-orange relish. It is not cooked but to develop the flavors it should be made at least 24 hours in advance. You will need:

One bag of fresh cranberries, washed and drained

1 large thin skinned seedless orange (you can manually remove the seeds) cut into pieces

1 cup white sugar

½ cup walnuts (optional)

Food processor

Place the cranberries and orange into the food processer and crop until the pieces are small and it looks well incorporated. Add the walnut and give the mixture a few additional chops.

Place in a glass bowl, add the sugar and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Use whole grains

When you are making your stuffing, this is the place to add the whole grains. Instead of white bread, use whole grain bread. Be sure to check that the fiber content is at least 2 grams per slice, more is better. One good way to add additional fiber to your dish is to add ground flax seeds. If you must use a bagged or boxed stuffing mix, be sure to check the sodium content. Pepperidge Farms Herb stuffing mix has 600mg of sodium and a small amount of fat but it also has 3g of fiber. By adding lots of veggies and the flax seeds you can turn this into a much more heart friendly side dish. Don’t however; cook the stuffing inside the bird as this will really raise the fat level.

Avoid the fat

Thanksgiving is all about being indulgent but indulgence does not have to include a lot of bad fats. By using low and no fat additions to your dishes you can keep the taste high and the fat low.

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a side dish that is found on most Thanksgiving tables. The typical recipe calls for milk and butter. In order to make the dish more heart healthy, use no fat milk or for a nice twist how about buttermilk. The addition of no or low fat sour cream and chives also makes for a tasty dish where no one will notice that missing butter. Many people enjoy garlic and by roasting it and adding it to the mashed potatoes there will be a complex flavor profile with the added health benefit of garlic.

If your family loves sweet potatoes, using them in place of the white potatoes is a very heart healthy option.

Green veggies

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without the green veggies. Green bean casserole is a staple of many American households on Thanksgiving. It is such an iconic dish that changing it would be unacceptable to many people. The best thing to do is to try to find a low sodium cream of mushroom soup and use skim milk. While this may not make it exactly heart healthy, it will make it healthier.

Broccoli is one of the super foods. Adding it to the Thanksgiving feast is a very good idea. Creating a light cheese sauce with skim milk and low fat cheddar cheese makes if feel and taste luscious without all the fat and calories.

These are just a few of the heart-healthy side dishes you can add to your Thanksgiving table. Visit the Mayo Clinic website for additional ideas for how to make your favorite dishes heart healthy.