There’s no better time to be following the keto diet than now, since the internet is teeming with delicious, low-carb and keto-inspired Thanksgiving recipe ideas.
While it’s true that many classic Thanksgiving dishes — like mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie — are high in carbs and sugar, they don’t necessarily have to be. These days, low-carb substitutes are available for just about everything (flour, sugar, etc.).
By putting together your plate thoughtfully and also bringing a dish that is compliant with the keto diet food list to the gathering, you can enjoy the feast without feeling like you totally derailed your diet.
4 Keto Diet Tips for Thanksgiving
1. Put a low-carb spin on your favorite recipes
If you’re concerned about having limited options, plan ahead and show up with something sugar-free/low-carb to offer. This way you know for certain there’s at least something you’ll like.
Here are some crowd-pleasers to consider bringing to the table:
- Apps and snacks — Make your own meat and cheese plate, kale salad, vegetable chips/fries (such as green bean or carrot fries, or turnip chips), prosciutto wrapped brie bites, deviled eggs or sesame-coated mixed nuts.
- Low-sugar cranberry sauce — Combine one bag of unsweetened/uncooked cranberries, put them in a pan with a cup of water and about one cup of your favorite keto sugar substitute (such as stevia or monk fruit) then boil for 10 minutes to thicken.
- Low-carb stuffing — Try using paleo bread mix to make low-carb “biscuits” or cornbread, then add high-quality sausage and veggies like mushrooms, celery, carrots and onion.
- Side dishes — Whip up mashed turnips or cauliflower with scallions and butter, creamed spinach or kale, veggie and sausage-stuffed mushrooms or artichokes, prosciutto wrapped asparagus or a cheesy vegetable casserole topped with slivered almonds.
- Grain-free biscuits, rolls and keto-friendly breads — Rather than using regular grain flour, opt for recipes that use coconut or almond flour. Combine these with eggs, sour cream, butter, cheese and herbs to make tasty knots, skillet breads, popovers and more. The options are endless when it comes to flavor; for example, try adding jalapeño and cheddar, or garlic and parmesan.
- Desserts — Skip the sweets and bring along a sugar-free coconut cream pumpkin pie, pecan bars, chocolate keto cheesecake, or almond flour-based spiced walnut loaf.
2. Fill up on mostly turkey and veggies
What types of Thanksgiving foods are keto-approved? Thankfully, some of the best kinds — including the turkey, gravyvitac and many of the most popular vegetable side dishes.
If you’re in charge of helping to prepare the turkey, feel free to add extra butter and lots of herbs for flavor, then collect the pan juices to make a keto gravy with a thickener like xanthan gum or glucomannan instead of flour.
Fill your plate with as many low-carb veggies as you can. Side dishes like roasted Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, baked spaghetti or acorn squash and zucchini or cauliflower gratin all make great keto side dishes. Because these are full of fiber and high in volume, they’ll help you feel satisfied and “crowd out” cravings for high-carb dishes.
3. Go light on (or skip) bread, alcohol and dessert
Some people estimate that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner provides more than 100 grams of sugar (not to mention nearly 1,500 calories)!
Now that you know which foods to emphasize, let’s take a look at those you’ll want to limit:
- Stuffing made with bread, cornbread, etc.
- Regular rolls, biscuits and breads
- Sweet and regular potatoes, including casseroles
- Cranberry sauce
- Most butternut squash soups
- Pie, pastries, cookies, brownies, etc.
When it comes to alcohol, what should, and shouldn’t you drink at Thanksgiving? The lowest carb/sugar options are dry wines (like merlot and pinot noir), champagne and spirits (like whiskey, gin, tequila, rum and vodka) mixed with seltzer or lemon/lime.
Hold off on fruity cocktails, craft beers and sweet whites in order to keep carbs in check. Whichever you choose, stick to one or two drinks if possible, and make sure to sip on plenty of water throughout the day.
4. Consider incorporating fasting before/after
For most people, it’s an unrealistic expectation that they’ll stick to their diet perfectly over the holidays. Rather than stressing, try to eat mindfully and strike a balance by paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Splurge on the dishes that you look forward to the most, and forgo those that don’t necessarily feel special.
One way you can help to balance things out is by doing intermittent fasting before and/or after the big day. For example, you might choose to skip breakfast and even lunch on the day of Thanksgiving and to “break your fast” with an early dinner. Try to avoid eating late into the night, and then fast again until about noon the next day.
If you anticipate being tempted by leftovers the next day, politely decline (especially desserts!). No matter how much you wind up abandoning your diet, remember that it’s only one day after all. Simply let it go and get back on track the following day.