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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

Whip up a fabulous holiday feast in a hurry.

Lighten Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Jell-O Salads

You probably won't find large Jell-O salads already made (I've seen only small tubs of prepared Jell-O salad at the market), but making them is a snap. If you're making a layered salad (see recipe below) your biggest challenge is having to wait a few hours before you make the second layer (the first layer needs time to gel in the refrigerator).

When making your favorite Jell-O salads, there are a few easy things you can do to lighten them up:

  • Use sugar-free Jell-O for at least one of the layers.
  • For recipes that call for mayo, use light or low-fat mayonnaise.
  • For recipes that call for cream cheese, use light cream cheese instead (fat-free cream cheese may not go over as well with all your guests).
  • For recipes that call for Cool Whip, use light Cool Whip.

Sweet Potatoes

Generally this is a dish you have to make at home, but basically it involves nothing more than assembling the ingredients into the baking dish. Some recipes even call for canned sweet potatoes or yams.

Keep these dishes light by using less butter than the recipe calls for (add some fruit juice in its place), half the marshmallows called for, and substituting Splenda for half the sugar, if desired. You can also use egg substitute instead of some of the eggs.

Light & Festive Cranberry Jell-O Salad

A Pyrex or see-through 9x13-inch dish works well, because you can see the colorful layers from the side.

1 (0.6-ounce) box Sugar Free Cranberry Jell-O (makes 4 cups)
16-ounce can whole cranberry sauce
1 (6-ounce) box Lime Jell-O
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple (in juice), drained
8 ounces light Cool Whip (or similar light topping)
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces

  • Stir 2 cups boiling water into cranberry Jell-O powder in medium bowl, and stir until completely dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in 2 cups ice water. Then whisk in the can of cranberry sauce. Pour mixture into a 9x13-inch dish and, with your whisk, spread the cranberries so they are evenly distributed in the pan. Refrigerate 3-4 hours.
  • Stir 2 cups of boiling water into lime JELL-O powder in medium bowl, and stir until completely dissolved (about 2 minutes). Whisk in the light cream cheese until mixture is creamy. Stir in 2 cups cold water and the pineapple. Slowly pour this mixture over the gelled cranberry layer. Put back in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  • Just before serving, spread the light whipped topping over the top and sprinkle with walnut or pecan pieces.

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