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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Healthy Holiday Sides

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Need some healthy, lighter options for your Thanksgiving side dishes?
Read on! Learn more about National Diabetes Awareness Month too!

Add great flavor and brighten up your holiday meals with unique twists on some seasonal vegetables. Check out a tasty new way to combine green beans, cranberries, lemon juice, almonds, and honey for an easy, lighter alternative to traditional green bean casserole. Then mix and roast some savory seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, and paprika on sweet potatoes for a spicy twist on these colorful fall vegies.

Try these recipes at home, and draw your holiday guests to the table with these yummy side dishes! Green beans with cranberries, almonds, and honey? Sweet potatoes with some warm spices? Let's get cooking!

green beans in white bowlWe used fresh green beans for this recipe, but canned green beans work well too! Get your skillet out, warm it up, and get colorful and creative at the stove! Click here for our recipe for the Green Beans, Cranberries and Nuts; and you get some bonus ideas too  several other holiday dishes from the Dining with Diabetes curriculum. See below for more info on what that is!

We used a variation of the roasted vegetable recipe shared above, with some spices of our choice... Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and cut up several sweet potatoes into chunks, leaving the skin on for extra flavor, fiber, and nutrients. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes to start with; the potatoes are ready when you can pierce them easily with a fork. Serve up and enjoy!

Have meat, poultry, or egg product questions? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854). The hotline is staffed by food safety specialists with backgrounds in home economics, nutrition, and food technology who can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round. The hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8am to 2pm, Eastern time, but closed on other federal government holidays.

The hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Send email questions to Check out the FSIS website at Hotline services are available in Spanish. Touch the appropriate number at the prompt to be connected to a Spanish-speaking food safety specialist. Callers also may listen to more than 50 food safety messages recorded in Spanish, 24 hours a day.

Learning about the nutrition value of food can be fun! Learn more via free fact sheets available on Ohioline about adding more grains, vegetables, and fruit to your menu.healthy side ingredients

There are probably zillions of side dish options out there, but if you want to experiment with other fall vegies (such as kale) with ideas from some of our own experts, check out this cool recipe from Ohio State's chef a few years ago: Thanksgiving Side Dish: Ohio State Chef’s Recipe for Kale and Bacon Tart.

You can also make other things with sweet potatoes, like fries. How, you ask? Read on! 
Chow Line: Sweet potato fries are a healthy, delicious option

USDA's site features many recipes, as well as great ideas for incorporating healthy vegetables and fruits into all of your meals. You can also check out this kid-focused newsletter for all-things-sweet potatoes, including activities to do with your kids such as growing a sweet potato vine.

November is NATIONAL DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH. Diabetes is a very serious chronic illness. The disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, nerve damage, vision issues, and kidney problems. Did you know that about 11% of Ohioans have diabetes, and it's one of the leading causes of death in Ohio and the United States? Many people who have diabetes don't realize it; but you can detect it by seeing your doctor and managing your risk with healthy lifestyle behaviors, including physical activity and healthy eating. Learn more about the impact of diabetes in Ohio via the Ohio Department of Health.

Many of our OSU Extension family and consumer sciences professionals work to educate Ohioans about diabetes, how to prevent it, how to understand the impact of it, and how to adjust your food choices to better manage your health. We offer Dining with Diabetes classes in cooperation with community health partners to provide cooking demos, menu planning, carb-counting tips, insight on portion control, label reading, and healthy recipe taste testing. Check out our class overview to learn more about the program and search for a contact in your county to help you start managing your diabetes better today!

The OSU Wexner Medical Center also has nutrition experts who can help clarify confusing nutrition advice you might hear in the media, via your friends, or through others. Ohio State’s registered dietitians are here to help! Check out their Wexner Medical Center blog posts, as well as videos on a variety of nutrition topics.

Sanja Ilic ( serves as an Extension state specialist based in the Ohio State College of Education and Human Ecology, focusing on food safety. She works to promote food safety among consumers, food handlers, and populations at risk. Sanja’s research investigates novel interventions to control and eliminate foodborne pathogens to improve consumer health and wellness. She also coordinates some of her efforts with many of our family and consumer sciences professionals throughout the state.

Learn more about growing your own seasonal fruits and vegies via our experts at Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine -- Seasonal Fruits and Veggies Shine: Three Cheers for Locally Grown Produce.