Make-Ahead Low-Carb Holiday Recipes Part I: Appetizers, Salads & Beverages

Low Carb Cooking 101 Special Edition: Appetizers, Salads, And Beverages

Written by Di Bauer November 30, 2001, Updated by Andrew DiMino on January 8, 2023

Low-carbers seem to have a particularly hard time around the holidays. Many of the “special” holiday foods seem to be carb-laden, and many of us become grumpy and frustrated when we can have what we’ve always had. Some of us have family members who can’t understand why we eat the way we do and use holiday meals to ambush us.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The trick is to find low-carb recipes that non-low carbers find irresistible.

The worst thing about preparing holiday meals is… preparing the holiday meals. It really is difficult timing everything to be ready to serve at the same time, especially when you want to socialize with your family and friends and not be isolated in the kitchen silently (or not so silently) tearing your hair out by the roots.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, either. I come from a long line of “make/do aheaders.” My mother would sometimes have to dust the dining room table because she’d set it so far in advance of the party. That’s carrying it a wee bit too far, although setting the table a couple of days ahead of time isn’t a bad idea.

For the next three weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite low-carb make-ahead recipes with you. This week appetizers, salads, and beverages hold the center stage. Next week we’ll take a look at meats (those won’t be make-ahead recipes, though) and vegetables. In two weeks I’ll share special holiday dessert recipes.

Check out our other Make-Ahead Holiday Recipes

Low-Carb Green Beans and Bacon

For even more holiday recipes, check out the article Rani Merens, author of The Low Carb Cook’s Corner, wrote just before Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for stuffing and gravy recipes, go there. I won’t be covering them in Low Carb Cooking 101 since she had already beautifully done so.

Remember, when you’re planning your holiday meal to offer variety in the colors and textures, just as you would for a more relaxed family meal.

Make a timetable of exactly what you need to do and when you’re going to do it. No, you won’t end up following it exactly, but it will give you some time guidelines so you know precisely where you stand in your preparations. Feeling in control of things will make it more likely that you’ll feel stronger and more able to be in control of your own dietary needs.

If you’re serving buffet style, know where you’re going to put what and make certain that you have outlets where you need to plug in things. If you need to use extension cords, try and get some in a color that blends into your surface and absolutely get some wide, clear tape so that you can tape them down. You don’t want anyone tripping over them or snagging them with something on the buffet!

Check to make sure you have appropriate serving dishes for everything you make.

I always make a list matching serving dishes to recipes, physically taking the serving dishes out of wherever they’re hiding, and sticking little post-a-notes with the recipe name on each. This eliminates unwanted surprises, like needing three crockpots when you only have two.

And always, always remember that something is going to go wrong. Don’t castigate yourself, don’t worry about it, and sail right on. Face it; do we remember the things that went right at past holiday meals? Heck, no! We remember when Mom forgot to put the lid on the blender before she turned it on. We remember when Uncle Bruce dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor and stuffing squirted all over the cabinets. We remember Aunt Ida’s crunchy mashed potatoes. We laugh about it now and it bonds us together. Sometimes having something go wrong is a good thing, don’t you think?

If the stress of the holiday gets to you anyway and you want to cheat, read the article I wrote last year, How To Survive A Holiday Meal. It can’t hurt.

The Recipes

Low-Carb Deviled Eggs
Enjoy them and the entire holiday season. I hope I’ve made it a little easier for you to stay on plan.

Low-Carb Spinach and Strawberry Salad Recipe
Return to Low Carb Cooking 101: Low Carb Lessons from CarbSmart.

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