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Making NEW Diabetes-Compatible Holiday Traditions

Making NEW Diabetes-Compatible Holiday Traditions

There have been countless articles about what to avoid when going to holiday dinners and parties. But what (uh oh) happens if YOU are the one that wants to, or has to be the host of the BIG dinner?

Well, in truth it is not any more difficult than dealing with the crazy relatives than it ever was. It’s a given that Aunt Tiffani, Uncle Teddie and their hateful children are going to be a pain. She ONLY likes dark meat, and he hates turkey. Their children have a favorite word….eueewe! Your restaurant is open. The Turkey part is easy and works for everybody except of course Uncle Teddie. Try a simple glaze of low carbohydrate orange juice and chicken broth, and some olive oil. It makes the most beautiful brown turkey you can imagine without raising your carbohydrates.

It is the rest of the meal, the sides that are the challenge. You can make a set of sides for everybody else and some diabetes-compatible sides for yourself, but aren’t you making enough dishes already? It is Thanksgiving and you want to keep it as traditional as you can.

Even if you do not have Diabetes, this holiday eating season can pose some strange challenges. There was one year when I invited some of my friends and their kids to dinner. A week before, the youngest child announced to the world that effective immediately she was a vegetarian. Another year, my niece and her husband were coming and he is Muslim. I needed a substitute for the pork sausage in the dressing I have made for eons. Then of course you remember Uncle Teddie?

It must be the call of the roasted leftover turkey that causes me to give up my resolve to not make dinner.

Here are some tips to make your holiday easier.


Make one really great thing like a cheese, spinach, and artichoke dip with low carb pita chips. Buy the rest. Big olives, Stuffed grape leaves, icicle radishes. Assign someone to make the drinks while you are NOT slaving in the kitchen.

The stuffing/dressing

Stuffing…not really a problem. Take your favorite recipe and substitute a lower carbohydrate bread (around Double fiber, Sandwich Thins, Thomas’ Light English muffins, or Joseph’s Oat bran, Flax and Wheat bread). Make life easier and prepare this one or even two days in advance (unless your traditional stuffing contains oysters). I like to bake it in a large loaf pan.

The cranberry sauce

Instead of buying that can of jellied cranberry sauce, make the best cranberry sauce ever…yourself. Start with fresh cranberries and cook them using water and a sugar substitute. Since the substitute does not react like sugar with the berries, you just need to stir in a package of unflavored gelatin at the end to make it gel. A few chopped walnuts and some shreds of orange zest and you are all set. Best of all, you can (and should) do this a day ahead.

You say potatoes

I say mashed cauliflower or roasted turnips. Mashed cauliflower is very easy and roasted turnips may soon become a family favorite. Just peel the turnips and a couple of apples, cut them up into 2 inch dice and toss them in a mixture of butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roast them at 425 degrees until the edges start to brown.  Mix them together and you are done.

Sweet potatoes. Roast them in their skins (more flavor, more vitamins). Make a flavored butter to serve on the side, using salt, pepper, ginger and cinnamon. Make your life easy. Instead of big sweet potatoes, get small ones. 1- They cook faster. 2- YOU can control your portion while others get to have more if they like. 3 – These are sooo delicious you will forget why you ever used marshmellows.

About that green bean casserole

Forget it. Why not do a great side of fresh string beans and toasted almonds? You have your beans and you have the crunch, not from over processed and salt laden onion sticks but from heart healthy almonds. I don’t have polite words to describe the fake cream of mushroom soup.


You can make a pumpkin pie. Just use a sugar substitute and an almond flour crust. Or how about that Apple, Cranberry, and Walnut cake I posted here a few weeks ago?

The hardest part of the dinner (aside from the family) will be convincing somebody else to do the dishes.

In case you think I forgot Uncle Teddie, think again. How about getting him a small ham, glazing it with the same glaze you used for the turkey plus a touch of Dijon mustard? He may be so grateful he may even keep you in his will.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.