Includes 13 Favorite Low Carb Thanksgiving Recipes
Preparing a big Thanksgiving féte is fun, but a lot of work! For the low carb dieter, though, it presents a special challenge: how to create a festive menu that will please the palate without blowing the diet!
The core of the meal is, of course, usually turkey, which you can feel free to indulge to your heart’s content. But how about those trimmings? Here are some ideas and hints.
- Stuffing/dressing – cannot be based on bread, rice, cornbread, etc.
- Gravy – thickened without flour or cornstarch
- Vegetable side dishes – the main challenge is potatoes/sweet potatoes
- Cranberry sauce – sugar-free
- Appetizers and relish trays
- Desserts – sugar-free, no crusts, flour, etc.
That is a daunting list, but let’s take it up, one item at a time.
Turkey can be roasted or, for the brave soul with the right equipment, deep-fried! There are dozens of websites, from www.foodandwine.com to www.butterball.com that will guide you through the how-to’s of preparing your turkey.
Stuffings/Dressings will have to be based on vegetables, meats, or low carb bread substitutes. My personal favorite is actually based on pork rinds! Before you turn your nose up, though, do give it a dry-run; you will be very surprised at how much it tastes and looks like bread-based stuffing. Other options include mushrooms, cauliflower, sausage, nuts and seeds, onions, celery, chicken livers, tofu, and faux breads made from protein powder. CarbSmart has several bread mixes available that can be used for that, but allow yourself some time to make them ahead. (See the recipes below!)
Gravy can be thickened any of a number of ways. The experienced cook can use tempered egg yolks and cream, or a pureéd mirepoix. But the simplest thing to do is use a low carb product called Konjac Glucomannan Powder.
Vegetable side dishes are pretty easy. Choose a low carb vegetable that you like, such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, creamed spinach, cabbage, green beans, etc.; serve it with a cheese or hollandaise sauce, if you want to get fancy. If your family likes that classic green beans/mushroom soup casserole, try it with a jar of Alfredo sauce with additional mushrooms added to the sauce instead of the cream of mushroom soup, and top it with crumbled pork rinds and dried onions.
But what about the carby veggie dishes? What is Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes? It’s actually quite easy to make acceptable substitutes for these carb-laden dishes. You can make a mashed cauliflower casserole instead of mashed potatoes or a Faux Sweet Potato casserole from pumpkin. The recipes are below.
Cranberry sauce is actually pretty easy to make. Substitute Splenda, stevia, or another heat-stable artificial sweetener for the sugar. This time of year, Jell-O has sugar free cranberry Jell-O, which is a real boon to the low carb cook.
Appetizers and relish trays can be stocked with low carb goodies, and most dips are actually quite low carb. Provide crudités, olives, and perhaps pork rinds for the low-carbers, crackers for everyone else. The classic Hot Artichoke Dip is a good choice, as well as other recipes for dips which contain spinach, cheese, shrimp, crabmeat (not surimi/fake crabmeat, which is surprisingly high in carbs), mayonnaise, sour cream, and so on.
Desserts are a challenge, due to not only the sugar but the flour! The simplest solution is to make your favorite cheesecake recipe, but with a ground-nut-based crust and substituting Splenda for the sugar. Pumpkin mousse or pumpkin pie with a nut-crust are other workable alternatives. And don’t forget that whipped cream, sweetened with artificial sweetener!
With a little forethought and planning, you CAN stay on your diet through the holidays!
Try These Awesome Low-Carb Thanksgiving Recipes
Rani’s Pork Rind Stuffing
(Will stuff a small roaster, double or triple the recipe if you want more.)
- 1 3-4-ounce bag plain pork rinds, lightly crushed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 can chicken broth
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- herbs to taste (suggestion: thyme and sage)
- 2-4 tablespoons butter
Cook the onions and celery in the butter until tender. Toss with the crushed pork rinds. Pour the beaten egg over the rinds and toss lightly. Add up to 1/2 can of broth until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Bake as for regular stuffing, in a casserole or in the bird. This looks and tastes like the ‘real’ stuffing!
***Note: It is now recommended that stuffing be cooked outside the bird in a separate casserole for safety reasons.
Better Than Bread Stuffing
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sausage
- (about 2 links or 1/2 package Jimmy Dean Sausage – I used hot)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Cut the cauliflower in corn-sized pieces and steam it until it’s soft but not mushy. Set aside.
Saute the butter, sausage, chopped mushrooms, diced celery, diced onion, and chopped garlic until soft.
Add the shredded cheese, eggs, white pepper, salt, dried parsley, sage, hot pepper flakes. Toss well to combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
Spoon the entire mix into a casserole. Flatten the surface with the back of large spoon.
Bake in oven while roasting your meat. (I do it by itself in a 350 oven until it’s hot and the cheese melts.
Let the casserole stand while you get the rest of the dinner ready.
- 1 head cauliflower, trimmed, washed, and cut into chunks
- cream or sour cream
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Steam the cauliflower until it is well-cooked. Drain it thoroughly.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and mash it up. (You can mash it by hand with a potato masher or a mixer if you like it a little chunky, or in a food processor or stem-wand type mixer if you like it smooth.)
Add the cream or sour cream a tablespoon at a time until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Variation: Twice-Baked Not-Potato Casserole
Add grated cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and a beaten egg to the Faux Mashed Potatoes. Place in a casserole and broil until the top is browned.
Cheesey Smashed Cauliflower (Faux Mashed Potatoes Variation)
- 2 heads fresh cauliflower, steamed until tender and mashed
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups sour cream
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 to 1/2 cups diced sauteed onions (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
Mash all ingredients together and place in a buttered 9X12″ casserole or baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and the casserole is heated through. Recipe can be doubled. Reheats well.
Serves 16 @ 2.6 grams carbohydrate per serving.
Rani’s Faux Sweet Potatoes
- 1 small can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar Twin
- 2 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup pecan meal
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- pinch of cinnamon (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon Splenda
- 1 tablespoon unflavored protein powder
Mix all of the casserole ingredients together and transfer them to a medium-sized, lightly greased casserole.
In a small bowl mix together the streusel ingredients and cut them together to form small crumbs. Sprinkle atop the vegetable mixture in the casserole.
Bake at 350 degrees until warmed through and the streusel sets a bit.
Rani’s Low Carb Green Bean Casserole
This is very similar to the traditional green bean casserole that uses canned cream of mushroom soup!
- 2 cans French cut green beans (You may substitute frozen green beans if you prefer them.)
- 1 jar Five Brothers Alfredo Sauce With Mushrooms
- 1 4-ounce can mushrooms
- 1/3 cup plain pork rind crumbs
- 2 tablespoons minced dried onions
- shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
Combine the green beans, Alfredo sauce, and mushrooms thoroughly. Pour into a casserole or baking dish. Top with the crushed pork rinds, minced onions, and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the casserole is hot, bubbly, and lightly browned.
Rainbow Sauteed Broccoli
- 1 10-ounce package frozen broccoli, thawed
- 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
- 1/2 cup butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the broccoli, pepper, and mushrooms in the melted butter until crisp tender. Season to taste and serve warm.
Cranberry Sauce A La Magic
- 1 package fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 small package sugar free cranberry Jell-O
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/2 teaspoon dry stevia or artificial sweetener (to taste)
In a saucepan, cook the cranberries in about 1/4 cup of water until they pop. Lightly mash them with the back of a wooden spoon or with a potato masher.
Add the stevia or other artificial sweetener and the orange extract.
Make the Jell-O according to the package directions, but with just one cup of boiling water and 3/4 cup of cold water.
Stir the prepared Jell-O into the cooked cranberry pulp and chill until set.
Makes 1 pint.
Magic’s Cheese Rolls
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 3/4 cup grated cheese
- (I use a pepper-Jack and cheddar blend.)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup unflavored protein powder
- 1 teaspoon parsley or herbs of your choice
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/3 cup water
- nonstick baking spray
Whisk together the eggs and the softened butter.
Stir in the grated cheese, then add the salt, baking powder, protein powder, and parsley or herbs of your choice. The mixture will be very dense.
Stir in the cream and water.
Spray a cookie sheet in 12 spots with nonstick baking spray. Spoon the batter into 12 mounds.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
Makes 12 rolls @ 9.9 grams of protein, 8.2 grams of fat, and 1.3 grams of carbohydrates with just a trace of fiber.
Rani’s Zucchini Dinner Muffins
- 3/4 cup unflavored protein powder (I use MLO, which is a soy/whey combination, or Trader Joe’s soy)
- 1 medium zucchini, grated, drained, and patted dry
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 cup (more if needed) chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter.
- pinch of garlic powder or minced garlic
- nonstick spray
Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to blend. Add wet ingredients, and mix gently – only as much as you need to lightly blend.
Bake in foil muffin cups which have been sprayed with nonstick spray at 400 degrees for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.