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Keto-Friendly Recipes for the Holidays: Dishes and Strategies to Try This Thanksgiving


Don't let one day sabotage your ketosis

Traditional thanksgiving day celebration.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many people are starting to plan their menus and recipes for the holidays. But for anyone following the ketogenic diet, navigating the carb-rich spread of mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie can be tricky.

Fortunately, you don't have to let one day derail your diet plans. Instead, you can use these tips and tricks to plan a Thanksgiving menu that has keto-friendly options. Here's what to know.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb style of eating. Those on a keto diet typically consume around 75 percent of their calories from fat, 20 percent of their calories from protein and 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates.

When the body is deprived of carbs, it starts to break down fat molecules, and rely on ketones to help fuel  bodily functions. This is referred to as a state of "ketosis," hence the name "keto." The research on this style of eating is relatively limited but growing and a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obese men following a short-term keto diet lost weight and felt less hungry compared to other dietary interventions.

How to Approach Thanksgiving on a Keto Diet

Approaching the Thanksgiving table is a bit different when you're following a high-fat and low-carb diet. At first glance, it seems like everything is off-limits. But with a few swaps here and there, you can have a tasty and enjoyable meal without knocking your body out of ketosis.

Below are some effective ways to tackle the turkey day meal:

  • Load up on higher-fat cuts of turkey. While protein is somewhat limited on the keto diet, try choosing the fattier cuts of the turkey, such as the dark meat or skin. Top it with a flour-free gravy.
  • Make a keto charcuterie board. With crackers, chips and bread, appetizers can be the downfall of a keto diet. This year try swapping out the traditional apps for a keto-friendly charcuterie board stocked with meats, cheeses, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and non-starchy vegetables, like cucumbers and peppers.
  • Use low-carb cauliflower. This vegetable can act as a stand-in for starchy sides like mashed potatoes, bread in the stuffing or pasta in the mac and cheese.
  • Pile on the non-starchy vegetables. You can substitute traditional Thanksgiving vegetables for non-starchy options, like Brussels sprouts, mushrooms or asparagus. Roast them with generous amounts of olive oil and bacon for a higher-fat twist.
  • Rethink baked goods. Instead of using traditional flour in pie crusts, consider turning to lower-carb nut flours. You can also replace the sugar in most treats with zero-calorie erythritol — it happens to work wonders in cranberry sauce.
  • Practice portion control. Even if you create an entire keto-friendly menu, it's still important to eat in moderation. In other words, enjoy your food thoroughly and eat mindfully as you savor each purposeful bite.

3 Simple Keto Thanksgiving Recipes

Not sure where to start with your keto Thanksgiving menu? These three crowd-pleasing recipes for the holidays are incredibly simple and tasty:

1.     Cauliflower mash: Chop and steam a head of cauliflower and transfer it to a food processor with 2+ tablespoons butter, 1 clove garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Process until smooth.

2.     No-sugar cranberry sauce: Combine a 12-ounce bag of cranberries, ½ cup erythritol sweetener,1 tablespoon orange zest and ¾ cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

3.     Parmesan-crusted green beans: Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a bowl, toss 1-pound green beans with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and 2+ tablespoons olive oil. Spread the green beans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

With a little planning and creativity, it's possible to enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal while following the ketogenic diet. Give these strategies (and recipes) a try to see what works best for you. 

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Those on a keto diet typically consume around 75 percent of their calories from fat?
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