All that exercise probably won't eliminate flab if you insist on gorging yourself with fattening food this holiday season. So we asked Dispatch food editor Robin Davis and Whole Foods healthy eating specialist Carrie Rasmussen to put a healthy spin on holiday favorites. Eat, drink and be merry without secretly dreading your next trip to the scale.

All that exercise probably won't eliminate flab if you insist on gorging yourself with fattening food this holiday season. So we asked Dispatch food editor Robin Davis and Whole Foods healthy eating specialist Carrie Rasmussen to put a healthy spin on holiday favorites. Eat, drink and be merry without secretly dreading your next trip to the scale.

Robin's recipes:

Skillet green beans with orange

Makes 4 servings

This recipe appeared in "Simple Fresh Southern." Matt Lee and Ted Lee recommend using fatter green beans for this recipe. The technique of skillet roasting gives them a charred, smoky flavor. Best of all: They require no oven space, which is at a premium on Thanksgiving.

1 large navel orange

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Finely grate the zest of the orange and reserve it. Remove the remaining peel and pit from the orange. Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the orange segments, letting them fall into a bowl with any juices.

In a large cast-iron skillet or saute pan, heat the canola oil over high heat, swirling it around the pan so it coats the bottom thinly and evenly. When the oil begins to smoke, add the beans (in batches, if necessary - don't crowd the pan) and scatter 1/2 teaspoon salt over them. Cook, stirring every 11/2 to 2 minutes until the beans are half-blistered and blackened, about 8 minutes. Transfer the beans to a serving platter.

Lift the orange segments out of their juice (reserve the juice) and scatter them over the beans. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon orange zest over.

Add the vinegar, olive oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the bowl of orange juice. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the dressing over the beans. Toss, and season to taste with salt, black pepper and remaining orange zest.

PER SERVING: 130 calories; 2 g protein; 11 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 10 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 cholesterol; 367 mg sodium

Cranberry Raisin Salad

Makes 4 servings

This recipe is from "The No-Salt, Low-Sodium Cookbook" by Donald Gazzaniga.


5 cups chopped romaine

3/4 cups dried cranberries

1 cup matchstick-size strips peeled jicama

2 cups fresh mandarin orange or tangerine sections


1/2 cup orange juice with calcium

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the salad ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Combine the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad, then serve.

PER SERVING: 123 calories; 2 g protein; 22 g carbohydrates; 6 g fiber; 4 g fat (0 saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 mg sodium

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Nonstick cooking spray

4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium)

1 cup thin slices of sweet onion

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan (with at least 2-inch sides) with cooking spray.

Cut sweet potatoes with peel into 1-inch pieces and place in pan. Toss in onion slices and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat well.

Roast until potatoes are tender and lightly browned and onions are golden brown, stirring once half-way through cooking, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a serving dish and drizzle with Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

PER SERVING: 238 calories; 3 g protein; 33 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 11 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 cholesterol; 195 mg sodium

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Makes 6 tablespoons

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix together all ingredients in a small jar with a lid, and shake well to combine. Use at once or store, covered, at room temperature for up to a week. PER TABLESPOON: 89 calories; 0 protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 fiber; 9 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 cholesterol; 195 mg sodium

Autumn succotash

Makes 8 servings

This colorful mix of beans and corn is a great accompaniment to the Thanksgiving meal.

2 slices bacon, chopped

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1 package (10 ounces) frozen baby lima beans, thawed

1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon. Cook until the fat begins to render, about

1 minute. Add onion. Saute until bacon and onion begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add beans, corn and water. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.

PER SERVING: 112 calories; 5 g protein; 21 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 1 g fat (0 saturated); 2 mg cholesterol; 144 mg sodium

Cider-braised Brussels sprouts with bacon

Makes 6 to 8

It's important to have a pan large enough to cook the sprouts in a single layer. You can blanch the sprouts up to one day ahead: Wrap in a clean kitchen towel and place in a plastic bag.

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stem ends trimmed, halved through the core

4 to 6 bacon strips, cut into 1/2-inch strips (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup hard cider or beer

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Blanch the sprouts until crisp-tender but no longer crunchy, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into bowl filled with ice and water. When cool, drain well.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, if using, and brown until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Discard the bacon fat or save for another use.

Add the olive oil to the pan. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is frothy, add the sprouts and saute for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan gently from time to time. Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the vegetables are lightly browned, stirring often.

Add the cider, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and lots of black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the sprouts are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Uncover, increase heat to high and cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Season lightly with nutmeg, and salt and pepper if needed. Toss with the bacon, if using, and remaining tablespoon of butter.

PER SERVING: 160 calories; 5 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 11 g fat (5 g saturated); 19 mg cholesterol; 263 mg sodium

Sweet Potato Casserole

Makes 10 servings

This recipe is from "EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook" by Joyce Hendley.


2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 medium), peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks


Nonstick cooking spray

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup 1 percent milk

2 teaspoons grated orange zest, preferably organic

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons frozen orange-juice concentrate

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped pecans

To make casserole: Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with salted water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Cook until tender. Drain. Return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher. Measure 3 cups. (Reserve any extra for another use.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square (or similar 2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

Whisk eggs, oil and honey in a bowl. Mix in sweet potatoes. Stir in milk, orange zest, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish.

To make topping: Mix flour, brown sugar, orange-juice concentrate, oil and butter in a bowl. Blend with a fork until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over the sweet-potato mixture.

Bake the casserole until heated through and the top is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes.

PER SERVING: 223 calories; 4 g protein; 31 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 10 g fat (2 g saturated) 46 mg cholesterol; 163 mg sodium

Creamy Cauliflower Puree

Makes 4 servings

This recipe is from "EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook" by Joyce Hendley.

8 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets (about 1 head)

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 cup buttermilk

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes.)

Transfer cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper. Pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired.

PER SERVING: 108 calories; 4 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 7 g fat (2 g saturated); 3 mg cholesterol; 342 mg sodium

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars

Makes 12 servings

Canned pumpkin is available year-round. Just make sure to choose a can of pumpkin puree (often labeled solid pack pumpkin), not pumpkin pie filling, which already contains spices.

Nonstick cooking spray

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square pan with nonstick spray.

Beat eggs with electric mixer at high speed for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add pumpkin, molasses and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Stir to blend. Add to pumpkin mixture. Stir well.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan. Invert onto platter. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Serve warm.

PER SERVING: 81 calories; 2 g protein; 17 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 1 g fat (0 saturated); 31 mg cholesterol; 55 mg sodium

Carrie's Whole Foods recipes:

Healthed-Up Mashed Potatoes

5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch chunks

1/4 cup vegetable stock

1/4 cup unsweetened milk alternative

Bragg's Liquid Aminos or sea salt (season to taste)

Boil cubed potatoes in water until tender. Drain. Place back into pot and mash until a half chunky half creamy consistency. Add vegetable stock and mash until consistency is creamier. Add unsweetened milk alternative, and mash until consistency is smooth and creamy. Add Bragg's Liquid Aminos or sea salt and pepper.

Tip: Season to taste; that way you won't add too much salt to your dish.

Holiday Sweet Potato Pie w/ Nut & Seed Crust

3 large sweet potatoes (baked)

1/2 cup vanilla milk alternative (almond preferred)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes in foil until soft and syrupy. Scoop potatoes from skins and mash well. Add milk alternative, sugar and spices, (season to taste), until creamy.

Nut & Seed Crust:

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

In a food processor or blender, place all nuts and sugar and blend until nuts emulsify into a pasty, dough-like substance. Place mixture in a pie pan and form into crust, as you would a graham cracker crust. Place pie filling into pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden.

Tip: When fork tines or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie come out clean, the pie is done.

"Steam-Frying" Saute

Instead of using oils to saute vegetables, skip the excess calories and fat by using water to "steam fry" them.

1. Get pan very hot.

2. Place 1/4 cup water or stock into pan. (It will jump from the pan just as oil does)

3. Place vegetables in pan and steam fry until translucent.