Thanksgiving is and will always be one of my favorite holidays. A time for family and friends to come together and share laughter and reflect on the past year. For those of us eating low carb/ketogenic, the upcoming holidays don’t have to mean that our diets will be sabotaged by carbohydrate-laden foods.
Often, my patients tell me, “This is so hard to do during the holidays! This is the worst time to be eating low carb!” My response never falters: This is the BEST time to be eating low carb! Getting through the the holiday without gaining weight, becoming inflamed, needing naps that take us away from living life, being full of energy and not getting bloated?! Yes, please.
I promise, eating low carb doesn’t have to be boring and bland. We can swap out some of the Thanksgiving favorites for healthy, low carb versions loaded with flavor! Your body (and your family) will thank you.
Let’s review a few tips to stay KETO-giving:
- Prepare ahead. Whether you are hosting or attending a Thanksgiving feast, offer to bring/make a low carb version of a side dish or appetizer. This will also solidify that you have something safe to eat.
- Don’t show up starving. When we are ravenous and our stomach is telling us to eat NOW, we are more prone to grab food that isn’t our best option. If you aren’t sure of the menu or whether there will be any healthy options, eat a nutritionally dense snack before you attend. This will allow you to make better options and not fall into a carb-coma. Snacks should be full of good saturated fats that will help increase our satiating hormone called Leptin. Now we can easily pass up the tables of snacks without feeling like we are missing out.
- Remember your goals: What is the driving force of eating low carb? When we remind ourselves of the reason we are eating healthier, it allows us to keep ourselves laser focused. More times than not, that dessert or roll will not make us feel well. Ask yourself: Is having a headache, fatigue or brain fog the next day worth it?
- Eat the most nutritionally dense foods first. Stick with the basics, loading up on the turkey, meat and veggies while staying away from the starches and desserts. When dipping, swap out those crackers with veggies.
- Portion control. To avoid the carb hangover the next day, remember to not go overboard. Eat until 90% full. By not eating to our stomach’s maximum, it will prevent your eyelids from feeling like they immediately weigh 10 pounds and forcing you to take a nap. Now you wont miss your favorite game, conversation, or that story that your family likes to tell (even though you’ve heard it a million times).
Ketogenic Full Course Thanksgiving Menu
Pumpkin Chipotle Soup
What a better way to start out your thanksgiving dinner than a delicious, warm cup of soup. This version has a little spice to it! You can also add butternut squash that has been roasted with coconut oil, salt and pepper to kick it up a notch, giving it more depth.
- 2 TBSP Grass fed butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 TBSP chipotle
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp granulated xylitol
- 2 cups organic pumpkin purée
- 32 oz chicken bone broth
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat butter in a pan and add onions and garlic cooking until translucent. Add the chipotle, coriander, cumin, allspice and xylitol cooking for another 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin purée and broth to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Using a hand held immersion blender (or traditional) blend the ingredients until smooth. Next, add the heavy cream and vinegar and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh cilantro and dollop of sour cream.
Passing around fresh vegetables cooked in grass fed butter or coconut will always be my favorite. Enhancing the nutritional density and bringing out the natural flavors makes me oh so happy. But, if you want to spruce up an old favorite try topping it with a delicious homemade hollandaise sauce.
- 50 spears of asparagus
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup cubed grass fed butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet or glass pan with approximately 2 TBSP grass fed butter cooking in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are pale in color. Continue to whisk in lemon juice over a low flame (double boiler preferred).
- Stir the yolks until thick add the butter slowly until melted and well combined.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper. If it’s too thick you can add a small amount of water.
- Top your roasted asparagus with your delicious hollandaise sauce!
Twice-Baked Cauliflower Mash
Yes, cauliflower is the almighty substitute. You can make it into rice, nachos, pizza crust, and even pass it off as a “potato”. There are many versions of mashed cauliflower but this is my favorite. Move over potatoes… You have a permanent replacement! I can tell you that following this recipe will forever change you and your family’s mind about ever eating mashed potatoes again (and they re heat very well for left overs)!!
- 2 large heads cauliflower
- 3-4 TBSP grass fed butter
- 4 oz organic full fat cream cheese
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup fresh shredded cheddar cheese
- Crumbled bacon (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Steam the cauliflower until tender. Place into a food processor with the butter and salt/pepper until smooth.
- Add the cream cheese and heavy whipping cream to the cauliflower mash and continue to blend until mixed.
- Place the mixture in a glass baking dish and top with the cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.
- Cover and bake at 350 degrees until warm.
Mushroom, Bacon, and Cauliflower Casserole
- 8 oz uncured bacon, chopped
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 TBSP fresh thyme
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 16 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 4 cups cauliflower crumbles (or 1 head)
- ¼ cup chicken or beef bone broth
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 2 tsp coconut aminos
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- To make your own cauliflower crumbles add to food processor and pulse until broken down into crumbles. Set aside
- Cook the bacon pieces over medium heat in a Dutch oven or pan. Remove bacon and set aside once crisp. Keep 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pot.
- Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook in the bacon grease for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper to mixture and cook for approx 10 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and cauliflower crumbles and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach, bacon, and coconut aminos, stirring until spinach cooked.
- Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes or until warm
Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
We all know how to make a delicious, moist turkey infused with fresh herbs and spices. If not, I can also give you some tips. But, if you want to try something different for the holiday here is a fantastic pork tenderloin wrapped in my favorite condiment….bacon.
- 16 oz pork tenderloin, pounded flat
- 14 slices uncured bacon
- ½ small onion
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP grass fed butter
- 2 oz spinach
- 3 oz cream cheese
- 3/4 tsp thyme
- 3/4 tsp Rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a meat hammer, pound your pork until approximately ¾ inch thick. Lay it flat on a cutting board and cut off excess edges to make it square or rectangle.
- Sauté onions and garlic in butter until tender
- Add the spinach to the garlic and onions and cook for 2-3 minutes then add cream cheese.
- Stir in the cream cheese and add ½ tsp of the spices. Let sit.
- Start your bacon weave that is the same size as your pork. This takes time but is worth it!
- Lay your pork tenderloin on top of the bacon weave and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread the onion, garlic, cream cheese and spinach mixture on the pork leaving some room along the edges free.
- Gently roll the pork and bacon adding toothpicks along the way if necessary. Season with salt and pepper along with remaining ¼ tsp spices.
- Bake for 75 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
That’s right, I said stuffing. This is the one side dish most people on a low carb skip. But what if we could do a low carb version? Number one, if you are going to use bread (EEEK!) go for the healthier sprouted bread instead. This will enhance the digestibility and nutritional density of the stuffing but please remember it’s still bread. Small portion please!! This recipe may be long and labor intensive but it’s a great way to still have your stuffing and eat it too.
- 4 TBSP ground chia seeds
- 4 TBSP psyllium powder
- 2 cups ground almond meal
- ½ cup whey protein
- 1 tbs baking powder
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp parsley flakes
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 2 cups warm water
- Mix all dry ingredients well.
- Add the 2 cups of water and mix in a blender.
- Let dough sit for 10 minutes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Using MCT oil or grass fed butter, oil a 6”x10” baking dish
- Place dough in dish and smooth down until level
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
- Let cool
- 3 oz pancetta, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- Sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 cups mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
- 3 oz prosciutto
- 1 cup bone broth
- 1 tsp sea salt
- In a large frying pan brown the pancetta with the sage and garlic.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes stirring often
- In the meantime, cut the bread into cubes
- Place bread cues on a cookie sheet and place under high broiler for 5-10 minutes or until brown and crispy.
- Remove the mushrooms and place in a bowl.
- In the pan, now brown the prosciutto strips until crispy
- Mix the browned bread cubes in the bowl with mushrooms.
- Add the prosciutto and macadamia nuts to mixture then the broth
- Mix well and place in a buttered dish for 30 minutes
Pumpkin Crumble Bars
There are many things we can do with pumpkin making into a fluff, cheesecake, or doing a crust-less pie. All keto version of course! This is a recipe that is a delicious treat and is safe on any table for the holidays.
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup pumpkin purée
- 25 drops liquid stevia or ½ cup xylitol mixed with 1/3 cup water
- 3 ½ TBSP unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 2 TBSP coconut oil or grass fed butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking soda and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar mixed (it’s fizzy!)
- 1/3 cup ground almond or pecans
- 3 TBSP unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 TBSP granulated xylitol
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 ½ TBSP coconut oil or butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 8×8 pan
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup coconut flour, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp sea salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside
- In a separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, 3 ½ TBSP almond/coconut milk, 1/3 cup pumpkin purée, 2 TBSP melted coconut oil/butter, xylitol, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix well. Add the baking soda-vinegar mixture to egg mixture.
- Add coconut flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.
- Pour and spread batter into pan and set aside
- In mixing bowl combine crumble topping ingredients using a fork to mix until a paste forms.
- Take the crumple topping and scatter onto pumpkin batter.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is browned and toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool, then refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.
- Cut into bars and serve.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to be thankful. Every day we have the ability to be surrounded by people who make us laugh, smile, and fill us with love. We have sunshine, a roof over our heads, and air that fills our lungs making us living, breathing beings. Family, friends, pets and children that bring purpose to our lives.
Now, add on the fact we can be thankful that we have food, fresh living food, that is within our grasp. We have the tools to use this food to nourish our body and enhance the innate ability to heal ourselves. How cool is that!?
Our bodies are amazing and capable of so much more than we will ever understand. Love it, feed it, nourish it, and it will repay us with whole body health. So this upcoming Thanksgiving, while sitting around your table surrounded by family and friends, take a moment to look around, inhale a big breath and say thank you.