STEPHEN SCHMIDT, a cooking teacher and cookbook author who revised the poultry section of "The Joy of Cooking," once told me he preferred the term stuffing to dressing.

"Dressing," he declared, was "just a highfalutin' term for stuffing."

Nobody wants to pass on the stuffing - or dressing, the term used when the dish is cooked outside the holiday bird in a separate pan. But nutritionally speaking, wallowing in the stuffing can mean you're racking up some serious carbs. And too many carbs, or the wrong kind of carbs, can cause a spike in blood sugar.

One way to counteract that unhealthy side effect is to add more fiber to your meals, which also reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Nutrition experts urge simple substitutions, such as serving brown rice instead of white rice and whole-grain bread instead of white bread. This Midwestern-Style Dressing, developed by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss, replaces traditional white bread with high-fiber English muffins.

Add the classic combination of onion, celery and mushrooms (more fiber) cooked in a tablespoon of butter for flavor. Finally, bind the mixture together with reduced-sodium chicken broth and an egg white.

Fiber can also serve as a dietary aid because it helps make you feel fuller faster. The recommended daily goal for fiber is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men, but most Americans eat only 16 grams a day.

Shopping tips: As a rule of thumb, one slice of whole-wheat or multigrain bread has 1.9 grams of fiber, but be sure to read the label. For testing purposes, we used Thomas brand high-fiber English muffins.

Ready-made poultry seasoning typically contains marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, thyme and black pepper. Look for it in the spice aisle.

MIDWESTERN-STYLE DRESSING

4 high-fiber (100 calories each)

English muffins, split and toasted

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup finely chopped celery

3/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt to taste

1 egg white, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut muffins into 3/4-inch cubes and place in large mixing bowl; set aside.

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook onion, celery and mushrooms until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour vegetables over muffin cubes. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Allow to stand a few minutes for broth to absorb.

Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray coating. Spoon dressing into prepared dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until center is quite hot. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 124 calories (22 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 317 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

Jill Wendholt Silva is an award-winning food journalist and editor for the Kansas City Star. She is the author of the cookbook "Eating for Life" ($24.95, Kansas City Star Co.), featuring 100 recipes from her weekly column. Contact her at jsilva@kcstar.com.