Here are 10 strategies for maintaining a keto eating regimen during Thanksgiving.
How to build a keto-friendly Thanksgiving feast
You’ve made the leap to the keto diet, which is heavy on fats and low on carbs. As the holidays approach, you may be wondering whether this eating regimen is compatible with a Thanksgiving feast, given that traditional versions of the meal lean heavily toward carbohydrate-loaded foods like bread stuffing and mashed potatoes.
There’s no need to fret, says Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian and keto diet expert with Abbott, a global health care company headquartered in Chicago. She works with Abbott’s ZonePerfect, which makes keto nutrition shakes. She’s also the author of “Sweat. Eat. Repeat.” The book, scheduled to be released in late 2019, includes a section on the keto diet and guidance on whether it may work for the reader. “Certainly, it’s not always easy to stay the keto course over the sugarplum-filled holidays, but with a few tweaks to your favorite recipes, you can do so,” Nisevich Bede says.
Here are 10 strategies for maintaining a keto eating regimen during Thanksgiving:
Try to maintain daily dietary goals.
To stay on your keto eating regimen during Thanksgiving, it’s useful to adhere to your daily dietary goals, Nisevich Bede says. That means 75% of your calories should come fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. Keto-friendly holiday foods can help you stay on or close to these goals.
Prepare keto-friendly appetizers.
An array of keto-friendly appetizers can help you stay on your regimen during Thanksgiving, says Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian based in Chicago. She’s the author of “Once Upon a Pumpkin: 50 Creative Pumpkin Seasoned, Flavored, Shaped & Spiced Recipes.” Deviled eggs are a good keto-friendly appetizer because they provide protein and fat, with less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per egg, she says. Sweet potatoes cut into circles and topped with mashed avocado and bacon or turkey bacon are another good option. Other keto-friendly appetizers include jalapeno peppers filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon or spinach and bacon-stuffed mushroom caps. You can sub in turkey bacon for regular bacon with both offerings.
Other good keto appetizer options, according to Maxine Smith, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, include:
— Roasted, mixed nuts.
— Cooked, cold shrimp.
— Marinated olives.
— Sliced and cubed cheese.
— Mixed vegetable tray with guacamole or salsa.
Use pumpkin in various recipes.
From soup to desserts, you can use pumpkin in a variety of keto-friendly recipes, Michalczyk says. Pumpkin is a keto-friendly fruit with 4 grams of net carbs for each 1-ounce serving. For people on the keto regimen, consuming pumpkin in moderation is a good option. One example of a keto-friendly appetizer is pumpkin shooters — small, appetizer-sized portions of soup. “Pumpkin soup shooters would be a great keto-friendly appetizer to start the Thanksgiving meal, and for dessert, consider making your traditional pumpkin pie keto-friendly by swapping out regular sugar for a keto-friendly sweetener,” she says. Other ways to get your pumpkin fix include a low-carb pumpkin roll, pumpkin keto cookies or keto pumpkin mousse.
Keep the traditional Thanksgiving bird.
Roast turkey — the traditional main course of a Thanksgiving feast — fits perfectly into the keto diet, Smith says. “The turkey is naturally keto,” she says.
Make keto-friendly gravy.
To make keto-friendly gravy, substitute flour typically used to thicken the condiment and instead use a thickening agent like xanthan gum, Michalczyk says. Xanthan gum is used as a binding agent in a number of gluten-free foods and will create a thick gravy without the flour — or the carbs.
Homemade gravy thickened with cornstarch is another option that offers minimal carbs, Smith says, noting that 1 tablespoon of cornstarch thickens about one cup of gravy.
Tweak the traditional bread stuffing.
Traditional stuffing made of bread isn’t keto-friendly because it kicks up the carbs, Smith says. “Not to worry: An almond flour cornbread makes a perfect base for the stuffing,” she says. Mix cubes of that cornbread with herbs, sautéed onions, celery and any other of your traditional favorite ingredients. Smith says her family recipe includes finely chopped turkey liver.
Another option is to make cauliflower stuffing, Michalczyk says. Cauliflower rice is a great choice for the base to prepare a keto-friendly stuffing. Chop a small head of cauliflower into florets and mix it with traditional stuffing ingredients such as carrots, celery and onion, plus spices. Cook on the stovetop in a large skillet until the ingredients are all soft and combined.
Use almond flour to bake rolls and crackers.
Don’t limit your use of almond flour to stuffing, Smith advises. Almond flour makes a great base for rolls and crackers. “Adding a bit of rosemary or dill and a dash of onion powder adds the savory tastes of autumn,” she says. “Brushing with an egg wash and rolling in caraway or sesame seeds add an extra toasty dimension.”
Soups are good options for the Thanksgiving table, Nisevich Bede says. “Cheese and cream bases offer plenty of nourishing fats, but remember to consider the inherent carbs that dairy can contain,” she says. “When in doubt, grab broth-based soups which offer the electrolytes you need to stay well-hydrated while on keto.” Great choices include a variation of French onion soup with no bread but plenty of buttery onions and topped with cheese.
For sides, bring on the veggies.
Roasted vegetables make great side dishes if you’re on the keto diet, says Dr. Andrew Abraham, founder and chief executive officer of Orgain, which sells keto-friendly nutrition products. He’s based in Irvine, California. “Toss some bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, mushrooms and broccoli in avocado oil and season with salt and pepper,” he says. Roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes for a delicious, keto-friendly side dish. Swap out mashed potatoes, which are high in carbs, for mashed cauliflower.
Prepare keto-friendly desserts.
You can make keto-friendly pumpkin pie or cheesecake using almond or coconut flour instead of baking flour, Abraham says. Sweeten the confection with monkfruit or stevia instead of sugar.
Another option is a custard made out of heavy cream or coconut milk with eggs, Smith says. Sweeten it with stevia, monkfruit or erythritol, she suggests. For flavoring, consider cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla or maple extract.
To recap, here are 10 strategies to prepare a keto-friendly Thanksgiving feast:
— Try to maintain daily dietary goals.
— Prepare keto-friendly appetizers.
— Use pumpkin in various recipes.
— Keep the traditional Thanksgiving bird.
— Make keto-friendly gravy.
— Tweak the traditional bread stuffing.
— Use almond flour to bake rolls and crackers.
— Serve soups.
— For sides, bring on the veggies.
— Prepare keto-friendly desserts.
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