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December 03, 2020 / Nicole Villeneuve

11 Low Carb Holiday Recipes

Bacon and brussels sprout hash in a gray bowl with a fork sitting on top of a napkin.

During the holidays, food takes center stage and gatherings often include carbohydrate-rich meals. If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, low carb meal planning for your holiday dinner will make a tremendous difference. Enjoy healthier, low carb holiday recipes by making thoughtful changes to your menu.

Benefits of a Low Carb Diet

Although maintaining a low carb diet during the holidays might seem challenging, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the benefits. Low carb diets may result in weight loss and overall health improvements. Eating well during the holidays won’t just help you manage your weight, it will help you feel good, mentally and physically.

Have you ever wondered how many carbs are in the average holiday dinner? According to the Calorie Control Council, the average holiday dinner contains upwards of 3,000 calories. Many people consume closer to 4,500 calories depending on how many drinks, appetizers, and desserts they eat. This means there can be around 563 grams of carbohydrates in just one meal.

Low Carb Holiday Recipe Ideas

Even though the typical holiday menu involves a large amount of carbohydrates, it is possible to enjoy the holidays while maintaining a low carb diet. Eating low carb doesn’t have to feel restrictive. Here are 11 low carb holiday recipe ideas that offer you healthy twists on the usual seasonal staples as well as some flavorful alternatives.

1. Cauliflower mash

Pot roast with grilled onions on top of a bed of mashed cauliflower on a gray plate with a fork on the side.

Mashed potatoes are a seasonal favorite, but if you’re aiming for low carb holiday recipes, you’ll want to swap them out. Mashed cauliflower has a similar taste and texture with a much lower carb content. Steam and mash the cauliflower, then season with garlic, herbs, butter, salt, and pepper to taste. For an alternative to turkey, we love this slow cooker pot roast with cauliflower mash.

2. Low carb gravy

Cooking skillet filled with mashed potatoes, a beef patty, a side salad and a white cup full of low carb gravy, all sitting on a wooden table.

Making traditional gravy involves adding flour to meat drippings to achieve the desired texture. If you’re willing to be a bit patient, you can make a low carb gravy by skipping the flour. Simply stir the drippings over heat with a little extra broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Continue stirring until the liquid reduces to the gravy-like texture you know and love.

Another option is to use a low carb alternative to thicken your gravy, such as arrowroot flour.

3. Parmesan green beans

Pork chops with goat cheese and green beans on a blue plate with a fork and a knife on top.

Traditional green bean casserole often includes a breadcrumb topping or a starch as a thickener. Go lighter and fresher this year without sacrificing flavor. Coat green beans in a little olive oil and garlic, toss in grated parmesan and bake for 12-15 minutes at 425F. The result is a crispy, cheesy, low carb holiday recipe that everyone will enjoy.

If you’re looking for a complete meal with a citrus take on green beans, seared pork chops with goat cheese, green beans and a roll is a delicious choice.

4. Roasted brussels sprouts

Seared scallops, roasted brussels sprouts and pancetta on a gray plate next to a blue napkin and metal fork.

Brussels sprouts are another easy, low carb holiday recipe idea. Toss halved sprouts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then roast in a pan with pine nuts and parmesan. Add bacon or pancetta to include a serving of protein.

Thinking of enjoying seafood as the main dish this year? Seared scallops with brussels sprouts and pancetta could be just the menu item for you.

5. Bacon-wrapped asparagus

Bacon-wrapped asparagus on a white plate with herb garnishes on a white table cloth.

High in flavor and low in carbs, bacon-wrapped asparagus is simple to prepare. Wrap the asparagus in strips of bacon and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. These work well when enjoyed as an appetizer while everything else is cooking.

6. Stuffed mushrooms

White rectangular plate with four stuffed mushrooms on top on a wooden table.

Stuffed mushrooms have the potential to pack a lot of flavor as an appetizer or side dish. Instead of stuffing your mushrooms with breading, fill them with a mixture of Italian sausage, cream cheese, and chopped mushroom stems.

Stuffed mushrooms also make a great main dish. These crab-stuffed mushrooms with spinach salad taste indulgent, but still support a low carb holiday menu.

7. Low carb rolls or biscuits

Grain-free cheddar and zucchini scones on top of a blue plate next to a blue and white stripped napkin.

Rolls or biscuits are a holiday staple that are nearly impossible to give up. Instead, opt for a low carb version. Try a recipe that uses almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour. Some recipes will also use beaten egg whites to help give low carb biscuits a fluffier texture.

Thinking creatively will help you achieve a low carb holiday dinner. These grain-free cheddar & zucchini scones are made with almond and coconut flours and add a savory side to your feast.

8. Broccoli and cauliflower soup

Cauliflower soup with basil as a garnish in a blue bowl next to a metal spoon.

Homemade low carb soups capture the comfort of a holiday dinner without the additional carbohydrates. An added benefit is that the liquid content keeps you hydrated and fuller for longer. Pureed broccoli and cauliflower make the perfect base for a healthy vegetable soup. Cauliflower soup with parmesan, thyme and pita both comforts and satisfies.

9. Pumpkin soup

Curried pumpkin soup with crispy tofu next to a gray napkin and metal spoon.

Pumpkin doesn’t just shine as a pie during the holidays. For a low carb holiday dish, make a savory pumpkin soup using chicken broth, heavy cream, and pureed pumpkin. If heavy cream isn’t for you, this curried pumpkin soup with crispy tofu uses coconut milk to give it a rich, creamy flavor.

10. Eggplant stuffing

Four baked eggplant slices with ricotta and basil on a blue plate next to a maroon napkin and fork.

Replace bread cubes with chopped eggplant to make your favorite stuffing recipe low carb for the holidays. Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. When baked, the texture is similar to bread, which makes it an easy substitute.

Feel like trying something new this year instead of stuffing? Eggplant also makes a tasty side dish. Baked eggplant and ricotta stacks are a rich, low carb addition to the holiday table.

11. Chocolate dessert

Two clear mason jars full of chocolate pudding with fig and goji berry garnishes on top of a gray napkin on a wooden table.

Just because you’re having a low carb holiday dinner doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy dessert. While there are many sweets with low carbohydrate counts, we think this coffee-infused chocolate pudding is perfect for a special occasion.

The Takeaway

A low carb holiday dinner is still all about family, food, and gratitude. By making small adjustments to your usual recipes you can adapt your meal to suit your dietary needs. After all, the food you put in your body matters and is the basis for your healthy lifestyle. For people on a low carb diet, making low carb food swaps may improve your mental and physical well-being.

We know the busy holiday season can make it challenging to stick to your diet and health regimen. Let PlateJoy help with your keto meal planning so you can maintain your health this holiday season.

Nicole Villeneuve

Nicole Villeneuve is a certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. A graduate of Yale University, she previously worked in book publishing, with a focus on cookbooks and health, and ran the food blog Paper and Salt. Her writing has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Daily Beast. Nicole lives in San Francisco and loves cooking, reading, exploring new restaurants, and running by the ocean. You can (very occasionally) find her on Twitter.

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