This will be my first holiday season as a pre-diabetic and a low-carber. Last year at this time, I’d had my baby and the gestational diabetes had seemingly disappeared. Although I was eating very healthfully, I was able to enjoy and indulge in all Thanksgiving and Christmas had to offer. Not so this year. I’d like to throw caution to the wind and eat all of my favourite carb-filled foods, but I can’t ignore the detrimental effects this would have on my system. I am simply not willing to compromise my health for a day of indulgence.
I have given this matter a lot of thought. We haven’t settled on a Christmas menu yet, but I think I’ve got Thanksgiving under control in a way that will allow me to “indulge” in some of my favourite flavours without going off track. It helps that we aren’t having any visitors this year, so my immediate family are the only guinea pigs for my experiments. But I figured it was worth sharing my thoughts on the matter, in the hopes that it might help any other diabetics and low carbers looking for ideas on surviving the holidays.
Fortunately, the main star of Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey, is already low carb, as long as it isn’t drowned in floury gravy. As for the rest of the dishes, here is my plan:
The sugar-free cranberry sauce is already made and in a jar in the fridge. It’s an easy one to make over, since cranberries are naturally low in carbs. You could take almost any cranberry sauce recipe and substitute your favourite sweetener. I will share my basic recipe below and you can jazz it up with whatever spices or low carb flavourings you like.
This year, the stuffing will be made with a loaf of my Rosemary Olive Oil Quick Bread, as I think the texture and consistency will lend itself well to almost any stuffing recipe. I will be sure to share the details if it turns out as well as I think it will. I will partake of the gravy, but it will be thickened with some arrowroot starch instead of flour, in the hopes of keeping carbs to a minimum. I’m not one who drowns anything in gravy as it is, but I do enjoy a little poured over my stuffing. And for veggies, we are eschewing the green beans and yams in favour of the lower carb alternatives of broccoli and cauliflower.
Dessert will be a low-carb pumpkin spice cheesecake. Thankfully, cheesecake also lends itself well to a low-carb makeover, as evidenced by my Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins. I am planning on a full-sized cheesecake with a pecan-based crust, and again, if it turns out well, I will happily share the recipe.
Of course, there are some dishes that simply can’t be made low carb, no matter how much you try. For these, you simply have to choose to have just a little taste, or abstain altogether. My husband’s amazing mashed potatoes will be making an appearance, and I do plan on a bite or two, but I will have so many other things to eat, I don’t believe that this will be a hardship for me.
To remain on track over the holidays, a little forethought goes a long way. With so many wonderful foods to suit any dietary restriction, there is simply no need to feel deprived at the holiday table. Whether you are gluten-free, low carb, dairy-free or vegetarian, planning ahead and using a little ingenuity can help you stay the course without feeling like you are missing out on anything.
For more low-carb holiday meal ideas, check out this article at MastersInHealthcare.com: “100 Delicious Holiday Recipes for the Low Carb Crowd”
Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
1 12oz bag of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated erythritol (more if you like it sweeter)
30 drops stevia extract
In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, water and erythritol to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have popped.
Remove from heat and stir in stevia. Let cool in pan and then transfer to a glass jar. Store in fridge.