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Stay in the Zone this Thanksgiving

By Lynn Sears

Thanksgiving usually signals the beginning of a five- or six-week eating extravaganza, which ends in remorse, weight gain and diet resolutions on New Year's Day. It doesn't have to be that way.

First of all, the centerpiece of Thanksgiving is the perfectly Zone-favorable turkey. Just make sure to stick to the white meat and don't eat the skin. Vegetables may be dressed up with sauces and spices to be a real treat. Make the traditional green bean casserole topped with one can of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and shredded cheese. Just substitute almonds for the fried onions.

Instead of making scalloped potatoes, make scalloped vegetables. Slice zucchini thin, add olive oil, milk and cheese and bake until the zucchini is tender. Try cold asparagus in a vinaigrette dressing.

Remember, alcohol is treated like a carbohydrate, which means you have to have one block of protein for every drink you have.

As far as the stuffing, yams and mashed potatoes - forget about it. You'll be glad you did when you finish your dinner, satisfied but not stuffed. I've been experimenting with some barley stuffing recipes. The first couple came out tasting like chicken-flavored gravel, but I finally found an acceptable recipe that I adapted from the Web site Saute 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. (I also added two cloves of garlic to give the recipe some zip.) Add 2 tablespoons of minced green onions, 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary, poultry seasoning to taste, 3 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth and 1 cup pearl barley. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and, stirring occasionally, cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. (It took about five minutes longer for me, but I might have been on too low a simmer.)

You can use that recipe as a base and add your favorite stuffing ingredients, except the bread. Try experimenting for some week-night meal prior to Thanksgiving so that you can make adjustments before the big day.

And what about the pumpkins pie? I'm going to tell you a secret. Barry always ends his perfectly zoned Thanksgiving dinner with a piece of pumpkin pie ... and a big slice of skinless turkey breast. It kind of grosses people out to see the pie and turkey on the same plate, but it works for him.

Of course, it would be wise to enjoy a Zone Bar before going to someone else's house for a holiday dinner because it dulls the appetite, and we're not as tempted to over-indulge in the Zone-unfavorable goodies.