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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

November 22, 2021, Wheeler, Christi MS, RDN, CSP
Keeping Keto: Thanksgiving Edition
Keeping Keto: Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I start decorating for Fall when it is still triple digits and am adamant there be no Christmas decoration until after Thanksgiving. There is something magical in the air as the weather starts to cool. Family and friends gather, and memories are made. With many special events and holidays cancelled last year, I have a feeling this year will be all the sweeter but savoring these moments while balancing special dietary needs can be a challenge.

Here are some easy tips and swaps to keep keto this Thanksgiving while still enjoying those traditional favorites:

Consider time-restricted eating (TRE). Plan when your Thanksgiving meal is going to be and consider an extended fast in advance (which means no nibbling as you prepare the feast). Fasting increases levels of ketosis, which may allow for a few extra carbs during your eating window. Note, a “few extra” is not a hog-wild binge, but rather room for a bigger portion of non-starchy vegetables or keto-friendly dessert. A good starting point is 16 hours of fasting with an 8-hour time frame for eating. TRE is a tool that is not appropriate for everyone, so talk to your dietitian to see if and how this can be factored into your nutrition plan.

Eat off a salad plate. Choosing a smaller plate will naturally reduce portion sizes and ultimately carbohydrate intake while tricking your brain into thinking your portion is sufficient because it is filling up the plate. Fat is more than twice as calorically dense than protein or carbohydrates - meaning you will get the energy you need, in a smaller volume.

Choose dark meat over white meat. While turkey itself is zero carbs, dark meat has a higher fat content than white meat. If you do opt for white meat, make sure to add extra fat (butter, oil, avocado, mayo, or cream).

Stuffing swap. Regular bread is an obvious keto no-no, but you can substitute a keto bread or biscuit as an easy swap in your favorite stuffing recipe.

Sugar-free cranberry sauce. Add equal parts of water, fresh or frozen cranberries, and strawberries or peeled oranges to a small saucepan and simmer until the cranberries have popped. Blend or mash to fully incorporate the fruits. If you need a little more sweetness, add your favorite keto-approved sweetener such as liquid stevia, monk fruit, or powdered erythritol to taste. I personally like to add a few dashes of ground cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger.

Sweet potato casserole. Sub sweet potatoes for butternut squash, which is much lower in carbs and use a keto-friendly brown sugar alternative. Skip the marshmallows and serve to the whole lot, keto or not. It’ll be our little secret. I made this recipe two years ago and it was a hit!

Mashed potatoes and gravy. Steam chopped cauliflower and use a cheese cloth to squeeze out extra water. Blend cauliflower with a little heavy cream and a generous amount of butter to recreate that fluffy texture we all crave. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. If there is a cauliflower hater in your midst, try turnips. Roast turnips at ~350 degrees until tender and blend or mash with cream, butter, and desired seasonings.

Crustless pumpkin pie. Using a standard pumpkin pie recipe, you can easily swap out sugar in the recipe for powdered keto-approved sweeteners like erythritol, which is available in both brown and white sugar replacements. Skip the crust and bake in small ramekin dishes for single servings. If you prefer the whole shebang when it comes to pie, check out this recipe from the Charlie Foundation for a keto pumpkin pie, crust and all. Whichever you choose, top it off with some homemade whipped cream.

Whatever you serve this holiday season, remember to savor the moments with the ones you love most of all. Enjoy!

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