I firmly believe that holidays are for indulgence. I also know that my body reacts badly to carbs. So what’s a girl to do? Create a low-carb Thanksgiving spread that has all of the indulgence without the excessive carbs, of course!
Let’s talk about alternatives to our favorite Thanksgiving dishes that will keep us moving toward our goals without sacrificing taste, shall we?
Good news! Turkey is 100% low-carb. Phew!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s turn to sides.
I’ve got you covered! If you missed my last post, it was all about mashed cauliflower. This creamy, cheesy recipe is the perfect stand-in for mashed potatoes when you need to eat low-carb.
Traditional cranberry sauce is loaded with sugar. I opted to make this recipe from Diet Doctor, which is sweetened with applesauce. I added some orange zest and a pinch of cloves to mine, and only made half a recipe as it’s really just for me.
Harsh truth, friends: Sweet potatoes are high in carbs. (Insert sad trombone sound here.) There are several low-carb “sweet potato” casseroles out there (like this one) that use a combination of cauliflower, pumpkin, and low-carb sweetener to mimic a similar flavor to sweet potatoes. I’m sure they’re good. But I seriously love sweet potatoes. Like, “sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G” kind of love. And I’m mostly sort of “meh” about pumpkin. I know, it’s like white girl heresy to say that. But when I want sweet potatoes, I want sweet potatoes. So I’m going to have sweet potatoes.
I’m keeping this moderately low-carb by keeping the portion small and not adding any sugar. Those three rounds in the picture above weighed 60 grams, which puts them at a full 10 grams of carbs for that serving. It’s a carb splurge for me. But these sweet potatoes are SO. GOOD. They’re roasted, then smothered in brown butter and sprinkled with toasted pecans. I don’t even miss the marshmallows.
Here’s how to make them:
Slice a medium-sized sweet potato into 1/2-inch rounds. Coat with melted coconut oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they’re fork-tender and starting to caramelize. Place on a dish and keep warm. While the sweet potatoes cook, toast 2 Tbsp chopped pecans in a dry skillet over low heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Remove from skillet. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat, and stir gently until the butter turns golden brown. It will smell like heaven. Remove from heat and whisk in a pinch of cinnamon and freshly-grated nutmeg. Pour brown butter over sweet potatoes and sprinkle with pecans.
Green Bean Casserole
I’m going to have to beg for your forgiveness on this one. I’ve been developing a recipe for low-carb green bean casserole and it’s almost where I want it, but not quite. So I’m going to beg off sharing the recipe until December, but I promise you I will have it in time for you to put it on your Christmas dinner table. Until then, I’ll point you to a couple of other recipes out there.
This one is a bacon-y, cheesy green bean casserole from Low Carb Maven.
Here’s a simple, albeit deconstructed, one from Diet Doctor. It looks easy.
I’m bringing rolls to our family Thanksgiving dinner this year. I will probably make some regular carb-laden ones for everyone else, but I wanted to see if I could find a decent recipe I could eat. Low-carb bread is inherently tricky, and after trying a couple of psyllium-husk-based recipes and just not being excited about them, I stumbled upon this one by Low Carb Maven. It’s a fathead dough, like my pizza, but with different proportions that hold up better to being a roll. I used oat fiber in mine, added a little yeast, then split each portion into three, rolled them into balls, and baked them in a muffin tin to make clover rolls. I have a convection oven, so I think next time I’ll turn the heat down about twenty-five degrees and see if they brown a little more slowly. I was really happy with this recipe and even Hubs said, “It tastes like bread.” Hashtag winning.
Stuffing and Gravy
Ok, friends. Don’t hate me. Stuffing has never been my number one Thanksgiving food, and I’m really not a gravy girl. So I’m just not going to bother making any for myself. I have enough to do without making foods I find just “ok,” can I get an amen?
But I know that some of you out there live for stuffing and gravy so I will send you over to some recipes I found that I would totally try if I were so inclined.
Here’s a paleo stuffing from Diet Doctor that looks like it’s worth a try.
This one from I Breathe I’m Hungry uses cauliflower instead of bread, which would make it easier than having to make some kind of low-carb bread first.
Oooh, and this one from Spinach Tiger looks promising as well.
This recipe from the Keto Diet App Blog looks amazing. If I were making gravy, I’d probably make this one, although admittedly it has a lot of steps. It looks soooo good, though.
Here’s a simpler recipe by I Save A to Z
What is holiday indulgence without dessert? But when you cut out sugar, flour, and most fruits, it can feel sort of limiting. No worries, I got you covered.
One of the desserts I used to love to make on Thanksgiving before my keto days was pumpkin cheesecake, made with a gingersnap crust. So I developed a recipe for a low-carb version with all the same flavors.
A note: This does use a small amount of low-carb sweetener. I personally chose Allulose as my sweetener. It’s a rare sugar that’s not metabolized. There aren’t a ton of studies on it yet, but it does not raise blood glucose levels. It tastes like sugar, although I think it’s slightly less sweet. I find for myself it causes less stomach upset than sugar alcohols like Erythritol, and I find the flavor much better. However, it’s more expensive. That being said, I still choose to use it sparingly. In this recipe, you can substitute whatever low-carb sweetener you prefer. Read more about Allulose here.
This makes one 4″ cheesecake. I personally split this into two servings. It’s perfect for if you’re the only one eating low carb because then you can eat one serving at dinner and still have one for Black Friday, aka Thanksgiving Leftovers Day. If you want to make a full-sized cheesecake, I think you’d probably want to quadruple the recipe. In that case, you could use 2 whole eggs instead of 4 egg yolks.
Another note: This recipe contains a small amount of molasses to achieve the gingersnap flavor. This does add a small amount of sugar, about .5 carbs per serving. You can omit this if you desire, but it really helps the flavor.
I don’t have step-by-step photo directions for this one, but here’s a printable!
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake
1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp blackstrap molasses (optional, but recommended)
1/4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated fine
cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1.5 Tbsp low-carb sweetener of choice
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt butter in a medium microwave safe bowl. Add almond flour, molasses, and grated fresh ginger. Add a dash of cinnamon and ground ginger, and a very small pinch of cloves. Press this into the bottom and about 1/2 an inch up the sides of a 4″ springform pan.
Beat the cream cheese and sweetener with an electric mixer until incorporated. Add sour cream and egg yolk. In a separate small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree with the pumpkin pie spice. Add about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Alternate spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture with pumpkin mixture on top of the crust. Once all the filling is in the pan, use a knife to gently swirl the filling to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cheesecake is set but still jiggles slightly in the center.
Top with whipped cream, if desired.