It’s not hard — meet your daily fiber needs with our sample dietary fiber meal plan.

Yep, that dreaded F word (read more about that here) still continues to surface, even for those who practice a “clean, whole foods” diet.

Back when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 was released, dietary fiber was noted as a nutrient of concern. This means we, Americans, still aren’t getting enough in our diets. For reference, American men and women eat only about 15 to 18 grams per day!

The Food and Drug Administration updated the percent Daily Value (DV) on the new food label (more about that here) from 25 to 28 grams given the findings on fiber. It’s a stellar nutrient that aids in laxation, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and assists in maintaining normal blood glucose levels.

The DV represents a percentage based on a 2,000-calorie diet that helps individuals identify whether a food item is low (less than 5 percent) or high (greater than 20 percent) of a particular nutrient. Nutrients like saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugar are recommended to be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, nutrients like fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin D are favorable to be above that 20 percent DV.

Where things get confusing is when you think about the other acronyms surrounding dietary fiber, such as the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and Adequate Intake (AI). DRIs refer to the daily recommended intakes of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals for the general healthy population according to specific age and gender. For instance, the DRI for dietary fiber for adult males (19 to 50 years of age) is 38 grams/day, whereas for adult females (19 to 50 years of age) it’s 25 grams/day.

AI is a representative figure that is believed to cover the needs of all individuals in the group, which for dietary fiber is listed as 14 grams/total fiber per 1,000 calories, or the equivalent of the DRIs listed above.

The FDA couldn’t keep it easy for us, huh? Don’t fret, we break down just how to meet your daily fiber needs below, and trust us, with a little prep, you’ll be on your way to meeting if not exceeding your dietary fiber needs in no time!

Sample Dietary Fiber Meal Plan 

Daily Total Dietary Fiber: 64.5 grams

Note: Fiber Values Taken From DGA 2015-2020 Appendix

*As you can see, this is a vegetarian meal plan. If you prefer animal proteins, feel free to substitute the garbanzo beans and black beans at lunch and dinner for a lean protein option, noting fiber content will decrease to a daily total of 48.9 grams, still well above average! 

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Calling all fans of brinner (breakfast for dinner)! This sweet and savory recipe is filling enough for any meal of the day.

Sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably, but they belong to different plant families. Yams are moister and have more variety in shape and color than sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which can help slow the aging process and support strong immunity. Because of their high concentration of nutrients, sweet potatoes are a potent anti-inflammatory food and can help ward off muscle tissue damage related to overtraining or intense sessions at the gym. Try these pancakes for breakfast or any time of day.

Buttermilk Sweet Potato & Sausage Pancakes Recipe

Makes: 4 servings

Serving size: 3 pancakes, ¼ cup apple slices and 1 tablespoon syrup

Total time: 30 minutes (plus potato roasting time)

Ingredients

  • 2 links sweet apple chicken sausage, such as All Natural Al Fresco brand, diced
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato*
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1½ cups all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ small red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook diced chicken sausage until browned, about five minutes. Remove from heat, transfer sausage to a bowl, wipe out skillet with paper towels and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir dry ingredients into sweet potato mixture until combined. Whisk in ¼ cup water to thin the batter.
  3. Place same skillet over medium-low heat or heat an electric griddle to medium-low. Working in batches, cook ¼-cup portions of batter, gently smoothing with the back of a spoon into even rounds. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the cooked sausage over each round. Continue cooking until bubbles appear on the surface and the edges are dry; carefully flip over pancakes and cook an additional two minutes or until browned. Repeat with remaining batter and sausage to make 12 pancakes total.
  4. To serve, stack three pancakes on each of four plates. Top each serving with thin slices of apple, remaining cooked sausage and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts (per serving): calories 426, total fat 9 g, saturated fat 2 g, trans fat 0 g, sodium 750 mg, carbs 70 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 19 g, protein 15 g

*Bake 1 large sweet potato directly on rack of a 450-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Peel and purée. Or substitute with 1 cup canned sweet potato purée.

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A traditional Mexican mole sauce takes hours, but we came up with a lighter version that achieves the same rich flavors in a fraction of the time.

Chocolate lovers rejoice: Rich in catechins, dark chocolate may aid weight loss since catechins can help to increase thermogenesis: the calories you burn digesting food. What’s more, the more bitter the chocolate is, the more fat-burning catechins they contain. Just don’t go cuckoo for cocoa: Stick to one ounce of 82 percent extra-dark chocolate a day.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Ready in 30 minutes • Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

4 oz-can green chilies, chopped

8 oz-can low-sodium tomato sauce

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 oz extra-dark chocolate, chopped

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add chicken, cooking about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Sauté onion until soft, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine until the chocolate has melted.

3. Submerge the chicken in the sauce. Add water as needed so chicken is completely covered in sauce. Simmer on medium heat, about 30 minutes.

4. Serve with brown rice, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime or place chicken in warmed corn tortillas on a bed of shredded cabbage, cilantro and lime wedges.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 260, Total Fats: 2 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 90 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 38 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 30 g, Protein: 24 g, Iron: 1 mg

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Wondering what to do with leftover turkey? This pub-style sandwich should do the trick!

Pulled Turkey Sandwiches with Pomegranate Coleslaw

Ready in: 15 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

Trim Down Tip: Slim down a hearty bakery-style roll by slicing an inch off each half.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white turkey meat, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • whole-grain slider buns

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a small pot over medium heat, gently bringing the sauce to a boil.
  2. Stir in turkey meat and coriander. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Top whole-grain buns with turkey mixture, onions and coleslaw (recipe on page two).

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 310, Total Fats: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 85 mg, Sodium: 300 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 36 g, Dietary Fiber: 7 g, Sugars: 14 g, Protein: 37 g, Iron: 3.5 mg

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These lighter Thanksgiving recipes are so darn tasty, even your pickiest family members won’t complain.

Thanksgiving is a day when you’re practically encouraged to break out some elastic waistband pants, gorge yourself on high-calorie foods, and then lounge on the couch until it’s time to dig into leftovers. And while some embrace this as the perfect excuse for a massive cheat meal, others find these temptations nearly as stressful as their in-laws.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some simple tricks for cutting calorie corners, you can still serve versions of the traditional menu items you and your loved ones crave — and these lighter recipes are so darn tasty, even your pickiest family members won’t complain.

“There’s no doubt that the scents and tastes of certain foods can conjure up mouthwatering memories of holidays gone by,” says Dr. Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research at Slimming World, the U.K. and Ireland’s leading independent slimming organization. “The great news is that you don’t have to give up those foods if you’re trying to keep an eye on your waistline. Lighter versions of your favorite turkey, sweet potato, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie recipes can all be on the menu — it’s important to never feel deprived.”

After all, knowing that you’re not only eating healthier yourself but also helping your family to be healthier will give everyone even more to be thankful for this holiday season.  

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Jazz up your leftover chicken! Pears and a maple syrup dressing add a touch of sweetness to this salad.

The Big Chicken Salad recipe

Takes: 20 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3 cups mesclun greens (a mix of spinach, arugula, Swiss chard and dandelion)
  • 1/2 cup roasted chicken, cubed
  • 1 medium pear,
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1 tsp olive or canola oil

Dressing

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Dash sea salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Chop bread into 1/2″ squares. Toss with oil to coat evenly, and place on a baking tray. Bake about 15 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned.
  3. While bread is baking, whisk dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl. Toss dressing with greens. Top with warm or cold chicken pieces, pear slices and croutons.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 394, Total Fats: 14 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 54 mg, Sodium: 266 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 47 g, Dietary Fiber: 10 g, Sugars: 22 g, Protein: 26 g, Iron: 4 mg

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This turkey meatball recipe is as healthy as it is tasty.

Makes: 4 servings

Hands-on time: 15 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes

To optimize the meatballs’ flavor, create a caramelized crust by first searing them in the skillet until golden brown on all sides.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 15-oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, egg whites, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Shape into 16 meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and sear 3–5 minutes, turning frequently, until browned on all sides.
  4. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, broth, lime juice and cumin and mix well. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and cook 3–5 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.
  5. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Nutrients per serving (4 meatballs and 1 cup bean-corn mixture): Calories: 320, Total Fat: 4.5 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 55 mg, Sodium: 340 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 32 g, Dietary Fiber: 7 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 37 g

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Enriched with egg whites, this simple dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth and quell hunger pangs.

Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice cooked
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp Sucanat

Instructions

  1. Bring milk and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Whisk egg whites and gradually add to boiling rice mixture, stirring constantly until egg whites are cooked, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses and Sucanat. Stir to blend flavors. Enjoy warm or cold.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 111, Total Fats: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 104 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 18 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 8 g, Iron: 1 mg

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These seven recipes allow you to enjoy a sweet holiday treat — without murdering your goals.

So go on — have your cake, then have some more cake!

The holiday season sneaks up fast, and before you know it, we’ve gone from fruity smoothies to pumpkin spice everything to green-and-red goodies galore. But don’t resign yourself to the inevitable holiday weight gain — instead, use these recipes to stay mostly within your healthy eating program (it is the holidays after all!) and enjoy some reduced-guilt holiday cheer.

Though some recipes contain some less-healthy ingredients (e.g., butter), the quantities are minimal and are overshadowed by benefits from items like nuts, seeds, berries and omegas. What’s more, the grams of sugar per serving is in the single digits, the carbs are less than 16 grams and each recipe is 270 calories or less per serving. So go on — have your cake, then have some more cake!

Pistachio Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bark

Makes: 8 servings 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • ¾ cup pitted dates
  • ¾ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

1. Add dates to a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak 10 minutes.

2. Drain dates and place in a food processor or blender container. Add coconut oil, salt, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and process until smooth.

3. In a large bowl, combine date mixture with nuts and pomegranate seeds.

4. Spread mixture over a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze to set, about 4 hours. Once set, chop into bite-size pieces. Store in the fridge.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = ¼ cup): calories 270, fat 24 g, protein 2 g, sodium 74 mg, carbs 16 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 9 g

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Makes: 4 servings 

Ingredients

  • 1 (5.3-oz) container plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries 
  • 4 tbsp milk of choice (more if needed)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Add yogurt, berries and vanilla to a blender cup.

2. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time until well-combined. Continue until mixture is thick and creamy. Serve immediately or store in the freezer for later.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2/3 cup): calories 93, fat 3 g, protein 6 g, sodium 209 mg, carbs 12 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 9 g

Maple-Walnut Chocolate Truffles

Makes: 15 chocolates*

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cacao butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp raw walnut pieces

Directions

1. Melt cacao butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.

2. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and vanilla extract. Then mix in cocoa powder.

3. Pour mixture into silicon molds or cups. Place a few walnut pieces in the center of each chocolate. Allow to cool, then place in the freezer or fridge to set.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 chocolate): calories 46, fat 4 g, protein 0 g, sodium 1 mg, carbs 3 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 1 g

*Number of candies may vary according to the mold.

Chewy Grain-Free Gingerbread Granola

Makes: 20 servings 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup raw pecans
  • ½ cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 275 F.

2. In a food processor or blender, pulse almonds, pecans, coconut and hazelnuts into small pieces. Do not over-blend.

3. Heat coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, spices and salt over medium heat in a large saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

4. Place processed nuts in a large bowl and pour warm coconut oil mixture over top. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseed meal and stir to combine.

5. Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool and harden.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 tablespoons): calories 159, fat 14 g, protein 3 g, sodium 33 mg, carbs 9 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 5 g

Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

Makes: 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole-wheat all-purpose flour*
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add eggs, vanilla and butter and mix with a stand or hand mixer on medium, 1 minute.

3. Stir in cranberries and walnuts by hand until well-combined.

4. Form dough into 2 long, flat logs and place on baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned and firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool, 10 minutes.

5. Cut logs into ¼-inch slices to make cookies. Arrange cookies on 2 baking sheets and return to oven. Bake another 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 cookie): calories 85, fat 3 g, protein 2 g, sodium

103 mg, carbs 14 g, fiber 1 g, sugar 7 g

Apple-Walnut Crisp

Apple-Walnut Crisp

Makes: 12 servings 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced 
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup rolled oats 
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat all-purpose flour*
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp butter diced into small pats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-
inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. To make the crisp topping,
combine oats, flour, brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Toss apples in cornstarch and spread evenly in baking dish. Top with walnuts and crisp topping. Spread butter pats evenly on the very top.

4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until apples are fork-tender and topping
is lightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1/3 cup): calories 167, fat 12 g, protein 3 g, sodium 87 mg, carbs 15 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 7g

Chocolate-Covered Fudge Brownies

Makes: 15 servings

Brownie Ingredients

  • ½ cup sweet potato, mashed
  • ½ cup chocolate protein powder of choice
  • ½ cup smooth nut butter of choice
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

Topping Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cacao butter nibs or chips
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine brownie ingredients until smooth. Should form a thick batter.

3. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Note: The brownies won’t rise much. Allow to cool completely in pan.

4. Once brownies are cool, combine all topping ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.

5. Immediately pour melted chocolate over brownies. Place in the fridge to set, then cut into 9 squares. Store in fridge or freezer.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 brownie): calories 128, fat 8 g, protein 8 g, sodium 31 mg, carbs 6 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 2 g

Smart Swaps

Flip your fave holiday recipe on its head by trading some questionably healthy ingredients for more goal-friendly ones.

1. Mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water in place of one whole egg. This makes a recipe vegan-friendly and adds a boost of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Works well in muffins, cakes and breads.

2. Swap regular butter and oil for your favorite nut butter (in the same quantity) to ramp up the healthy fats and dial down the trans and saturated fats. Try this in cookies, cakes, muffins and sweet breads.

3. Use plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream to slash calories and fat while increasing protein. Think: coffee cakes and cupcakes.

4. Try almond flour and coconut flour in place of white or wheat flour to go gluten-free, increase fiber and slash carbs. Great for breads, cookies, pastries and crusts.

5. Blend pitted dates or ripe bananas into batters to add sweetness and fiber without the added sugar. Try this in cakes, cookies, breads and brownies.

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Transform your end-of-summer barbecue menu with these healthy swaps guests will love.

As summer winds down, there seem to be a lot of “lasts” — the last few carefree days before school starts, the last of the warm weather and sunshine, and the last barbecue of the season.

Whether you’re hosting a Labor Day barbecue or bringing a dish to someone else’s party, you’ll want the meal to be as unforgettable as the summer memories you’re leaving behind. How about giving the same old menu a healthy twist without taking away the yummy traditions guests expect? 

“Food triggers an emotional response for many of us, especially on holidays and family gatherings,” says April Dearden, a certified nutritionist, wellness coach and founder of the New Normal Lifestyle Inc. “There is a comfort and familiarity that comes with the food at these events. Swapping out fats and sugars for herbs and spices creates dishes that are healthy yet don’t leave us feeling deprived. My goal is to make dishes that look and feel like the original version but are so full of flavor that people won’t even know it’s healthy — because it’s just delicious.”

Below, Dearden shares her recipes for revamping your entire menu — from side dishes to desserts. 

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