Planning Your Low-Carb Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner

Holiday feasts don't have to be packed with carbohydrates

Roasted squash
Darren Muir/Stocksy United

Many people seem to think that Christmas and Thanksgiving are "all about the carbs." Or that a holiday is a time to throw caution to the winds and just eat whatever is served at the feast. But it really doesn't have to be that way. You can decide to have a holiday meal with any amount of carbohydrate you choose and actually feel good the next day. These tips work well for any large holiday meal.

1. Choose current favorites that are lower in carbs

Turkey is obviously the low-carb star of the Thanksgiving feast.

There might be vegetables or relishes which are family favorites and don't have a lot of starch or added sugars. Think back through holidays past and resurrect the side dishes that are lowest in carbohydrates.

2. Consider scaling back some of the traditional side dishes

Did you know that plain roasted yams with salt, pepper, and butter are delicious even without a pile of marshmallows on top? Instead of a rich vegetable casserole, how about a simpler vegetable side dish, such as green beans with almonds? Have a sauteed mushrooms and pepper dish, or a salad with a cranberry vinaigrette dressing.

3. Serve low-carb, high-flavor nibbles first

If you decide to eat more carbohydrates than usual, consider holding off until you get to the table. Use vegetables with dip, cucumber rounds instead of crackers for spreads, and peanuts or other nuts instead of chips. For an easy holiday favorite, try these five-minute sweet and spicy pecans.

4. Prepare a low-carb relish tray for the table.

The following are good choices: dill pickle spears or chips, sugar-free gherkins or bread and butter pickles (Mt. Olive is one brand), olives, marinated artichokes, Italian hot peppers (make them sweeter by adding some sugar substitute to the brine), roasted red peppers, radish blossoms, baby carrots, and celery sticks.

5. Make a list of "must haves" for your Thanksgiving table

Make a list of the foods you simply cannot do without. Now, can you "de-carb" any of them? Here are 10 lower-carb versions of traditional favorites. Steps that you can do ahead of time to lighten the workload on Thanksgiving Day are noted.

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