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November 12, 2018

Low Carb Thanksgiving Sides: Healthy Alternatives for Holiday Favorites

Bacon and brussels sprout hash

At Thanksgiving, we tend to eat our carbs with a side of even more carbs: buttered rolls, mashed potatoes, and stuffing all topped with gravy. If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, you’ll want to re-evaluate what constitutes a “staple” of the Thanksgiving spread.

These ideas for low carb Thanksgiving sides offer new options as well as fresh takes on the classics. Enjoy a delicious holiday meal without cheating on your diet (or filling your fridge with dangerous leftovers!).

Cauliflower mash

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving favorite, but if you’re on a low-carb diet, you’ll want to swap them out. Mashed cauliflower has a similar taste and texture with a much lower carb content. (It takes less time, too!) Steam and mash the cauliflower, then season with garlic, herbs, butter, salt, and pepper to taste.

Low-carb gravy

Making traditional gravy involves adding flour to meat drippings in order to achieve the desired texture. But if you’re willing to be just a bit more patient, skip the flour. Simply stir the drippings over heat with a little extra broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar until the liquid reduces to the gravy-like texture you know and love.

Parmesan green beans

Traditional green bean casserole often includes a breadcrumb topping, or a starch as a thickener. Go lighter and fresher this year (but still get all the 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 Thanksgiving side that everyone can enjoy.

Roasted brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are another easy, low-carb Thanksgiving side. Toss halved sprouts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then roast in a pan with pine nuts and parmesan. Add some bacon or pancetta if there are no vegetarians at the table!

Bacon-wrapped asparagus

It’s as simple and delicious as it sounds. Wrap the asparagus in strips of bacon and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Serve for the main meal, or enjoy as an appetizer while everything else is cooking.

Stuffed mushrooms

Another appetizer-or-side option! Instead of stuffing your mushrooms with breading, fill them with a mixture of Italian sausage, cream cheese, and chopped mushroom stems.

Low-carb rolls or biscuits

Rolls or biscuits are a Thanksgiving staple that are hard to give up. To opt for a low-carb version, try out 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, like this one from Create Delicious.

Broccoli and cauliflower soup

Homemade soups capture the comfort of Thanksgiving dinner without the extra carbs--plus,the liquid content keeps you fuller longer. Pureed  broccoli and cauliflower make the perfect base of a healthy vegetable soup. Enjoy topped with cheddar cheese and bacon.

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin isn’t just for pie at Thanksgiving! Make a savory pumpkin soup using chicken broth, heavy cream, and pureed pumpkin.

Eggplant stuffing

Replace bread chunks with chopped eggplant to make your favorite stuffing recipe low-carb. Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. When baked, the texture is not that far off from bread, either, making it an easy substitute.

- Emily Polson

Want more holiday inspiration? Check out even more Thanksgiving ideas for paleo, keto, and gluten-free diets here!

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