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Last-Minute Low-Carb Thanksgiving Tips
Originally published November 20, 2009, updated November 5, 2023.
Why would I bother having even a bite of candied sweet potato?
Planning for Thanksgiving
In case you hadn’t noticed, Thanksgiving is upon us, and it seems incumbent upon me to say something, and quickly. So here are a few ideas for making it to December without gaining several pounds.
Is Thanksgiving an Indulgence Day or a Normal Low-Carb Day?
First, decide whether you’re going to have an indulgence day for Thanksgiving, or if you’re going to do your best to de-carb your feast. Most of you will probably go for the indulgence, and I don’t blame you. Since this year it will be just me and that nice boy I married, I’ll be de-carbing the dinner.
It will still be more carbs than we’d normally get, but it won’t carry anything like the carb load of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you are planning an indulgence, give a little thought to which of the carb foods served at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner really matter to you, and which are merely incidental.
Choosing Your Side Dishes and Desserts
For instance, I love stuffing, but really don’t care about candied sweet potatoes. So while I have been known to have stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner, Even the full-carb kind, although not since I gave up gluten. Speaking of sweet potatoes, if you’re fond of them, please be aware that there is no law requiring you to bathe them in Karo Corn Syrup or stud them with mini marshmallows.
That nice boy I married is quite fond of sweet potatoes, so I’ll be serving him a simple baked sweet potato with butter. He likes that better than the sugary kind. They’re also good sliced and layered in a casserole with a little orange juice and grated zest, some sweetener, and butter, and then baked until tender.
FYI, sugar-free sweeteners make a brilliant pumpkin pie filling. Haven’t tried the new erythritol stevia blends this way yet, or, uh, the new allulose monk fruit blend. But I don’t know why they wouldn’t work fine as well. And I may even try brown sugar-style swerve this year. For a New England touch, add a little sugar free pancake syrup or maple extract.
Low-Carb Pie Crust
For years, I’ve made a super low-carb pie crust from crushed pecans. Yum. Sugar-free sweeteners also make a great whole-berry cranberry sauce. Just follow the recipe on the bag of fresh cranberries, substituting your favorite sweetener for the sugar. I’ll be using allulose this year. You can add a sprinkle of guar gum or xanthan gum to thicken it up, if you’d like.
I generally don’t bother. You can make cranberry orange relish with sugar-free sweetener too. It works wonderfully. If you’re fond of cranberry sauce, throw a few bags of fresh cranberries in your freezer. They’re one of the few fruits that is still strictly seasonal, but they keep very well frozen. Sadly, I have no sugar-free substitute, jellied cranberry sauce, but I don’t like the stuff anyway.
I may serve Faux-Po, that’s a half a head of cauliflower and six ounces of potato, which is a piece about the size of a tennis ball, steamed and pureed together instead of mashed potatoes, but more likely, now that I’ve come up with a good substitute for the long defunct Ketato’s mix, See the recipe here. I’ll probably just add some of that to my potatoes. Believe it or not, I had never even heard of that green bean casserole made with the mushroom soup and canned onion rings until I was in my 30s.
Try low carb potato substitutes from Amazon.com.
Low-Carb Side Dishes
My mom always served green beans almondine. Steamed green beans tossed with almonds toasted in butter. Loved them. Have them every Thanksgiving. And they’re a whole lot lower carb than the casserole. Easier too. Consider adding an extra low-carb side dish or two. How about a salad? Guar gum or xanthan gum make fine thickeners for giblet gravy.
I’ve also been trying glucomannan, which is another finely milled, flavorless, soluble fiber, like the guar gum and the xanthan gum. Great for more flavorful gravy. Save any water you cook your vegetables in and use it in place of plain water. And of course, you’ll be using broth. Saves the water soluble vitamins too.
Low- Carb Thanksgiving indulgence lasts for one meal, and one meal only
Get it through your head that your low-carb Thanksgiving indulgence lasts for one meal, and one meal only. Continue to chow down on carby leftovers all weekend, and you’ll be heading into December already a few pounds up. Not good. Have leftover turkey and leftover green beans, not leftover potatoes and pie.
Refusing Holiday Foods
Unless you make a low-carb pie, of course. If you’re eating your Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house, you’ll have little control over the menu, but you’ve still got total control over what goes into your mouth. Politely refuse any carbs you don’t absolutely want. Ignore people who try to pressure you to eat anything that’s not one of your favorites with phrases like, but it’s traditional or it’s a holiday, live a little.
They don’t have to live with your waistline or your health problems. Thanks for watching! Listen to my previous podcast dealing with the holiday food pushers for great ways to defend yourself. Personally, I am not a football fan, never really was, but after 23 years as a professional massage therapist, including working with some pro football players, I just can’t watch all of those 300-pound guys running sideways into each other’s knees.
After Thanksgiving Dinner Activities
I know too well what they’re doing to their bodies. Ouch. If the weather’s nice, I’ll be following Thanksgiving dinner with a walk, which will serve the dual purpose of working off a little of the surplus food and getting me away from the leftovers until I’m actually hungry again. If the weather’s not cooperating, consider board games, Cards Against Humanity, pull out the Christmas decorations and start decking the halls, dig out some old photos and ask the elderly relatives who all those people are.
And make notes on the back of each photo. Staring at the television is conducive to eating and you know it. If you’re hosting, send any carby leftovers home with your guests. If your hosts want to send leftover pie with you, ask for a little leftover turkey instead.
And have a wonderful day and a Low Carb Thanksgiving!
© by Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the thankful author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.