By Amanda Hill

Thanksgiving represents just how blessed we are here in the United States. Think about it. We all—regardless of religious, political or fiscal beliefs—stop everything for one day to gather with family and friends to enjoy a meal together, laugh and watch football. (This is Texas, y’all.) It’s one of my favorite holidays.

Yet the holidays leave many of us worried about our waistlines. Too many indulgences can lead to a lot more time in the gym come New Year’s. I recently read some great suggestions from Texas A&M University professor and nutrition specialist Dr. Mary Bielamowicz for healthy Thanksgiving recipes and options for both a tasty and nutritious meal.

Reduce the amount of sugar, fat or salt. Dr. Bielamowicz recommends cutting back on these ingredients to make a healthy impact on your favorite Thanksgiving recipes:

  • 2/3 cup of sugar for 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of oil, butter or shortening for 1/2 cup of oil, butter or shortening
  • 1/4 tsp. or no salt for 1/2 tsp. salt

Try substituting ingredients for more healthy options. These basic ingredients can be swapped without changing the taste of your traditional recipes:

  • Plain, low-fat yogurt or applesauce for butter or margarine
  • Fat-free or reduced-fat milk for whole milk
  • Egg substitute or egg whites for whole eggs
  • 1/2 to 1/4 of the amount whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour

Make something totally new, yet familiar. Treat your friends and family to brand new, delicious recipes with the same holiday spirit but less fat, carbohydrates or sugar. Here are some festive holiday recipes from Texas foodies who know a good Thanksgiving meal:

  • Poblano and Cilantro Citrus Roast Turkey, A Southern Fairytale–Instead of stuffing the turkey with cornbread, this recipe uses gala apples, oranges, poblano peppers and cilantro.
  • Crisp Green Beans, Carrying On–Trade the green bean casserole for fresh green beans cooked in garlic, onion and bacon.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Hill Country Cook–Scrap the marshmallow-topped version and opt for this simple recipe for a natural, full flavor.
  • Apple Pie Bites, Texas Table Top–Check back on Friday for one of my absolute favorite “pie” recipes. These bite-sized apple treats have less fat and sugar, but all the flavor of a holiday classic.

Now, one word of advice. With two weeks left before Thanksgiving, you may want to try out some of these substitutions and new recipes to make sure they are guest-ready. If you’re known for your famous corn casserole, plan a test run for any substitutions. Healthy eating is important, but you also don’t want to disappoint.

Do you have tips for healthy Thanksgiving eating? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!