Low Carb Thanksgiving Menu 2013

This year will be my 3rd low carb Thanksgiving. I know, I know, Thanksgiving only comes once a year, so why not take a break from low carb & enjoy traditional Thanksgiving cuisine? Well, as I stated in my last post, all those “only ones” adds up (plus, it takes 14 days for the body to recover from crappy carbs–I don’t have time for that mess šŸ˜‰ ). AND, why would anyone think a low carb Thanksgiving be less satisfying that ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving cuisine anyway??? šŸ˜‰

My 1st low carb Thanksgiving (2011) was perhaps the most difficult for me–so for those of you doing this for the 1st time, I understand your anxiety. What made that particular Thanksgiving so difficult was the fact that I was not at home preparing the entire meal myself & I knew there would be MANY high carb choices on the table that year. My husband & I always spent Thanksgiving in Indiana with my husband’s family & I was the lone low-carber in the bunch. To survive that Thanksgiving without ruining my diet, I prepared several satisfying low carb dishes to contribute to the meal (including a dessert). Even though potatoes, dinner rolls, stuffing, corn, and chocolate pies were a part of that Thanksgiving spread, I was good–I had plenty of low carb choices & I didn’t feel deprived. I’ve said this before, but it’s important to have foods you will enjoy when faced with a gathering that won’t be tailored to your low carb needs. Also, don’t feel bad about not eating high carb foods prepared by the dinner hosts; a quick explanation should suffice (and if not, what kind of friends are they anyway???). I got over that one really quickly! AND, most people will totally understand & be supportive of your choices.

Last year (2012) my husband & I stayed home for Thanksgiving; the timing was not great for us to leave for a week. Staying home meant I was in complete control of the menu! This gave me great freedom to fix only low carb fare. Everyone enjoyed dinner so much, they came back Friday evening for a leftover meal. šŸ˜€

This year, we will also be home for Thanksgiving. I’ve been working on the menu with my mom for a couple of weeks now, & I’m pretty excited about it. I am not preparing the entire meal myself this year; my mom, a fellow low-carber, will be preparing about half of the offerings for this year’s feast. This year will be another fabulous low carb Thanksgiving!

A couple of weeks ago, I received a request for my low carb Thanksgiving menu, & I’m so very happy to be able to share it with you now.

Our 2013 Thanksgiving menu:

  • Roasted turkey with herb butter
  • Spinach, cranberry & bacon salad
  • Mashed cauliflower
  • Whole cranberry sauce
  • Broccoli casserole
  • Green beans
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Deviled eggs
  • Apple pie bread
  • Pumpkin cheesecake

For anyone interested in the recipes for these dishes, I’ve included them below (some recipes can also be found throughout my blog):

Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter

INGREDIENTS:

  • THAWED whole turkey (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • two bunches of fresh parsley, one chopped & one left in tact (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • A couple Tablespoons of fresh sage (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • A couple of Tablespoons of fresh rosemary (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • A couple Tablespoons of fresh thyme (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into about 4 pieces each
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into about 4 pieces each
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic (adjust amount depending on personal preference)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

HOW TO:

  1. Be sure to follow cooking instructions according turkey size (you’ll find this guide on the turkey’s outer packaging — turkey cooking times vary by weight). Preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. Make sure your turkey is well-thawed — I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COOK A FROZEN TURKEY!!! Also, be sure to safely thaw your turkey; if you do not have time for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator, be sure to follow the quick thaw method (place wrapped turkey in kitchen sink & cover with cold water, change water every 30 minutes until thawed).
  3. Remove & dispose of all outer turkey wrapping. Once turkey is removed, rinse under cold water & pat dry (patting dry is important). Place the turkey giblets aside if you will be using them (be sure to remove everything from the neck cavity).
  4. While the turkey is drying, prepare herb butter.
  5. In a food processor, add butter, garlic & herbs (add only 1 bunch of parsley). Give the ingredients a few pulses until everything is well incorporated (you may need to scrape the sides of the bowl & pulse again).
  6. Place the turkey in roasting pan & truss the turkey.
  7. Insert the remaining bunch of parsley, onions, carrots, & celery in the turkey cavity.
  8. Liberally rub the herb butter mixture over the entire turkey; be sure to insert some of the butter in-between the turkey skin & flesh on the top (near the neck cavity) of your turkey.
  9. Sprinkle sea salt & cracked black pepper over the turkey.
  10. Place turkey in the oven & follow cooking instructions tailored to your turkey size. DON’T OVERCOOK — this is why turkey sometimes gets a bad reputation! I use a meat thermometer to ensure I never overcook turkey.
  11. After turkey is done, remove it from the oven, tent with aluminum foil (without touching the turkey) & allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving (this will make it super juicy)
  12. Carve & enjoy! šŸ˜€

Spinach, Cranberry, & Bacon Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 pound – pound of bacon (depending on your bacon preference)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (this will add a few carbs–you may delete if you prefer, but the dressing will have a more watery consistency)
  • 4 Tablespoons Splenda
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6-8 Tablespoons chopped red ions (depending on your onion preference)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (these have some carbs, you may want to use less/more depending on your needs)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

HOW TO:

  1. Wash & dry spinach & place in a large bowl.
  2. Cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon & allow to drain on paper towels.
  3. Use the bacon drippings to create the salad dressing. Add flour to drippings & stir until well blended.
  4. Add Splenda, vinegar, black pepper, & salt to the mixture & stir until well combined.
  5. Pour over spinach.
  6. Add onions, cranberries, & walnuts to spinach & toss everything well.
  7. Place finished salad in serving bowl.
  8. Delish! šŸ˜€

Mashed Cauliflower

INGREDIENTS:

  • Head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (depending on your cheesy preference)
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • Chopped chives
  • Salt & pepper to taste

HOW TO:

  1. Cut cauliflower into chunks (medium sized is best) ā€” completely remove the stem.
  2. Place cauliflower chunks into a microwave safe bowl with the heavy cream & butter & cook 7 minutes (cover with paper towel).
  3. Stir cauliflower & cook another 7-8 minutes
  4. Place cauliflower & remaining ingredients in food processor ā€” process on HIGH until everything is incorporated well.
  5. Add salt & pepper as needed.
  6. Spoon into a serving bowl, sprinkle with chives & ENJOY!

Whole Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of cranberries (fresh or frozen; I prefer fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

HOW TO:

  1. Wash cranberries well.
  2. Add all ingredients to a saucepan & bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and stir. (Berries will begin to pop)
  4. Allow to cook (while stirring often) until desire consistency is reached (approximately 10 minutes).
  5. Place in serving bowl (you can allow to cool, even chill, if desired).

Broccoli Casserole:

***Stay tuned for this recipe*** (this is my mom’s & I have to get it from her) šŸ˜€

Green Beans (Southern Style):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs. fresh green beans, be sure to string & break
  • 1 hunk (around 1 lb.) of peppered pork side meat
  • salt & pepper to taste

HOW TO:

  1. String & break green beans; wash well.
  2. Place beans in a pot, fill with water (just enough to cover beans).
  3. Add pork side meat; cover pot.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Immediately reduce heat to low/medium low & cook approximately an 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Remove lid, increase heat to medium high to high & allow liquid to reduce (I allow almost all liquid to reduce) — watch the pot carefully & stir often; when you reduce liquid quickly, burning can happen quickly.
  7. When liquid has reduced, add salt/pepper as needed.
  8. Spoon beans into a serving bowl. ENJOY! šŸ˜€

Baked Sweet Potatoes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sweet potato per guest
  • vegetable oil
  • course sea salt
  • aluminum foil
  • butter (optional)
  • cinnamon & Splenda (optional)

HOW TO:

  1. Preheat oven to 475
  2. Wash & dry each sweet potato.
  3. Rub each potato with vegetable oil.
  4. Sprinkle course sea salt over entire sweet potato.
  5. Wrap each sweet potato in foil.
  6. Place wrapped sweet potatoes on a baking sheet & bake for 1 to 1/2 hours (until sweet potatoes reach desired softness–I like mine super soft, so I opt for 1 1/2 hours).
  7. Remove baking sheet from oven. Unwrap potatoes & place on serving platter.
  8. Offer butter, cinnamon, & Splenda for folks to add to their sweet potatoes as desired.

Deviled Eggs:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (I add one tablespoon at a time & check texture before adding more mayo–I don’t like super gooey eggs)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard (you may want more or less depending on your taste preference)
  • 1/4 white distilled vinegar
  • Dash black ground pepper
  • Dash salt
  • Whole green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • Sprinkle of paprika

HOW TO:

  1. Place the eggs in a pot, cover with water, place on high heat & cover with lid.
  2. When eggs come to a boil, remove the lid & reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from stove & drain water.
  5. Rinse eggs in cold water.
  6. Peel eggs.
  7. Slice eggs in half & remove the yolks.
  8. Place yolk in a mixing bowl along with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, & pepper.
  9. Mix well.
  10. Spoon yolk mixture into a plastic sandwich bag (to resemble a pastry bag). Snip off one end of the plastic sandwich bag & twist the top to keep the egg mixture from seeping out.
  11. Squeeze the yolk mixture into the egg whites
  12. Add an olive to the middle of each egg.
  13. Sprinkle eggs with a dusting of Paprika.
  14. Enjoy! šŸ™‚

‘Low Carbified’ Apple Pie Bread Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

bread:

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c Splenda
  • 1/2 c heavy cream (soured w/ 1 tsp of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c almond flour (I process my own from natural almonds in my food processor
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 c shreaded peeled apples (I used my food processor)
  • 1 c chopped pecans (optional)

topping:

  • 1/2 c Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans

HOW TO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray & set aside.
  3. In the food processor, beat butter until smooth.
  4. Add Splenda & process until combined. Add heavy cream & baking powder, process until combined.
  5. Add vanilla and eggs; process until combined.
  6. Add almond flour & salt & cinnamon; process until combined.
  7. Stir in apples & nuts.
  8. Pour batter into the loaf pan & spread evenly.
  9. To make the topping: combine Splenda Brown Sugar Blend with almond flour in a small bowl.
  10. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.
  11. Stir in nuts.
  12. Sprinkle topping over batter.
  13. Bake 1 hour (or until toothpick comes out clean).
  14. Cool in pan for 10 min.
  15. Remove from pan. Cool completely.
  16. Wrap & store overnight before slicing (I store in the refrigerator overnight).
  17. Place on serving platter & enjoy! šŸ˜€

Pumpkin Cheesecake

***At this moment, I’m not 100% sure that I will be using this recipe…I’ve been thinking about trying something new. If I choose to try something new, I’ll update here. šŸ˜€ ***

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour (I make my own–process raw almonds in the food processor until a flour-like texture is reached)
  • 2 Tablespoons Splenda
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cinnamon (optional)

CRUST HOW-TO:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a 9″ springform pan with aluminum foil & spray the foil with cooking spray.
  • Process almonds in the food processor until flour-like consistency is achieved (you can purchase almond flour if you choose)
  • Add remaining ingredients to processor & pulse until everything is combined.
  • Spoon mixture into a 9″ springform pan.
  • Press mixture into the bottom & sides of pan (I only go up about 1/3 way up the sides of the pan with my crust).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven & allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour cheesecake mixture into the crust & bake.

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 3, 8oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1, 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 cup Splenda (taste the cheesecake mixture BEFORE adding eggs to tweak the sweetness–you may desire a sweeter cheesecake & choose to add more Splenda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (again, taste the mixture BEFORE adding eggs to determine your spice level–you may want more pumpkin pie spice)
  • 3 room temperature eggs

CHEESECAKE HOW-TO:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Process cream cheese in food processor until smooth
  • Add pumpkin, Splenda, vanilla, & pumpkin pie spice to cream cheese
  • ***You may want to taste the mixture at this point to determine if you need more Splenda and/or pumpkin pie spice
  • Add one egg at a time into the pumpkin mixture; process each egg until completely combined
  • Pour mixture into the crust pan
  • Prepare a bain marie for the cheesecake. (Choose a pan wider than your springform pan, wrap the bottom & sides of your springform pan completely in foil, place the springform pan inside the larger pan, fill the larger pan with boiling water until the water level reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan–this is why you want to be sure to wrap the springform pan WELL with foil)
  • Carefully place the cheesecake (inside the bain marie) in the center of the oven.
  • Bake 50-55 minutes.
  • Turn off oven & crack the oven door. Allow cheesecake to stand in oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove cheesecake from the bain marie, & place the springform pan on a cooling rack until the cheesecake is completely cooled.
  • Run a knife around the entire edge of the cheesecake (to help release it from the springform pan), cover cheesecake, & refrigerate at least 4 hours (I prefer chilling overnight).
  • Remove cheesecake from the springform pan (unlatch the latches, & you may need to run a knife around the edges once again; because the bottom & sides of the pan are lined with foil, the cheesecake will release easier.
  • Remove foil & place cheesecake on a serving platter, slice, garnish if desired.
  • Enjoy! šŸ™‚

So, that’s my Thanksgiving menu for this year. I hope this gave you a bit of inspiration for your own low carb feast. šŸ˜€

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