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Cat Cora: Changing Things Up continued...


1. Spray olive oil in an 8x11-inch baking dish and set aside. Pour the lentils into a deep pot and cover with cold water. Heat water to boiling; reduce heat to simmer, and add the raw chunks of squash. Simmer until the squash is soft, lentils are tender, and liquid has reduced by two-thirds, about 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Spoon contents into a colander to drain. With tongs, pull out the chunks of squash and mash them roughly with a fork, ricer, or potato masher.

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

3. In a large bowl, mix the drained cooked lentils and mashed squash with all of the spices. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. (At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.) Bake until piping hot (about 20 minutes if you're putting it into the oven right after mixing; 25 to 30 minutes if it's been refrigerated). Serve warm, topped with shredded coconut.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 285 calories, 14 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 18 g fiber, 3 g sugar, and 34 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 28%.

Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD: Lightening Up

Dietitian, writer, and food expert Carolyn O'Neil's first holiday makeover mission was to lighten up the standard green bean casserole by using fresh green beans, fresh sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions instead of the typical canned veggie/soup/fried onion trio. The result was such a hit at her house that O'Neil's makeovers are now much anticipated. Her latest best twist on tradition? "The addition of fresh salads to the holiday table," says O'Neil. Built with seasonal produce and flavors that complement the winter holiday theme, her salads haven't replaced the obligatory Jell-O salad mold, but the family has created a welcome space for them on the table.

Carolyn's Holiday Tip

"Since I'm a dietitian, friends and family expect me to prepare 'healthy dishes' for holiday meals," says O'Neil. "But the last thing I want to do is start a family feud by banning calorie-laden traditional favorites." Instead, she recommends making lighter dishes an exciting addition to the usual holiday menu. You'll be introducing some healthier fare and keeping the peace.

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