Ultimate Low Carb Turkey Dinner

Late fall in the United States.  People who are new to the low carb lifestyle despair of their turkey dinner, thinking they will just be noshing on turkey and looking forlornly at all the other goodies on the table. No so!  Plan a little ahead of time and you can be eating your bird smothered in gravy, rolls dripping in butter, sweet potato casseroles, mashed, um, veggies, and pumpkin pie!

Turkey

My husband and I found our perfect turkey recipe by splicing together two different Alton Brown recipes.  Or rather techniques.  We use a brining solution made of salt and brown sugar and combined with a bunch aromatics like herbs and oranges bring out your turkey’s full flavor.  Brining a turkey does increase its salt content slightly, so for my readers who are being conscious of their sodium intake you may want to find a different technique.  But neither the brown sugar nor the fruit should substantially add any sugars to the meat.

For the most delicious, moist turkey you’ve ever had, you are going to need:

  • ¾ pound (roughly ¾ of one of the round canisters) of Salt
  • 1 pound of brown sugar
  • 1 orange, cut into quarters
  • Dried Herbs – parsley, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, sage
  • 1 32 oz container of chicken, turkey or vegetable stock

Find a container large enough for your turkey and some extra liquid.  We use a large Igloo Water Cooler that we set aside for our turkeys.  It usually fits a 13-15 pound bird quite nicely.  Pour some water in the bottom of the cooler or container, and pour in your salt, brown sugar, orange, herbs and stock.  Mix until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Put your bird into the water and then fill the rest of the container with water until the bird is just covered.  Do a little stir to make sure the brining solution covers the bird and then fill the container up the rest of the way with ice.  Cover and let sit in a cozy nook in  your kitchen for 12-15 hours.  We prep the bird in the afternoon of the day before we eat it.

Now comes the fun part.

The next day preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Don’t freak out.  It will only be for a short time.  Before your bird goes in the oven, get out some aluminum foil and make a triangle big enough to cover the breast side of your turkey, and mold it over the breast to get the right shape.  You do this step now so you don’t have to try and shape it when the bird is in a searing 500 degree oven.  You’re welcome.

Now you’ll need an apple and an orange, both cut into quarters and stuffed into the cavity of the bird.  Then spray or rub olive oil over the entire skin of the bird.  You can also re-herb the bird at this point if you want but DO NOT use more salt.  Now place the bird in the oven without the aluminum breastplate for 30 minutes.  Once the time is up, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cover the breast with the aluminum foil.  Cook per the turkey label’s instructions based on the poundage of the bird or until a meat thermometer pushed into the deep parts of the meat, like the breast and legs, measures at 165 degrees.

If you find that the bird is browning too quickly you can cover the rest with aluminum foil in the last hour of roasting.  Take the bird out of the oven and then let it sit for about a half an hour before diving in!

Gravy

You can find gravy that is, at minimum, gluten free at your local grocery store.  Its a little harder to find one that is both gluten free and low carb friendly.  This recipe from Healthy Little Peach is easy, delicious and low-carby gluten free.  A win-win in my book.

low carb gluten free homemade gravy
Low Carb Gluten Free Gravy via healthylittlepeach.com

For the perfect Thanksgiving turkey gravy, just replace the beef broth with drippings from the turkey pan, or my personal favorite, take the neck and organ meats that come with your turkey and boil them in about 4 cups of water until the water is reduced and the odds and ends have cooked through.  You can either eat the organs yourself, or find a lucky dog or cat.  Then follow the directions as stated in the recipe!

Cranberry Sauce

This little gem from Keto Connect is the answer to canned sauce that is pumped full of sugars and corn syrup, or homemade recipes calling for loads of sugar or fruit juices.  Cranberries, as a fruit, do have sugar in the form of fructose but it is lower on the GI scale and therefore won’t affect your blood sugar too drastically.

no sugar added cranberry low carb sauce
No Sugar Added Cranberry Sauce via KetoConnect

Make this the day or two before Thanksgiving because it refrigerates well.  Also, don’t stress about finding fresh cranberries.  Frozen ones are usually available in your local grocery store this time of year and work just as well as fresh.

Sweet Potato Casserole

You don’t need mounds of brown sugar and marshmallows to make a sweet yet satisfying sweet potato casserole.  In this recipe from Very Well Fit, cinnamon and nutmeg are the keys to fool your mouth into thinking there’s more sugar than there really is!

sweet potato casserole thanksgiving low carb no added sugar
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole via Very Well Fit

This is a very large casserole.  Sometimes too much of a good thing is bad for your willpower.  You could very easily halve this recipe and only have a small amount so that you won’t be tempted to overindulge.

Mashed “Potatoes”

Creamy and delicious, mashed potatoes have always been a staple at my Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner tables.  But potatoes are so starchy and they are relatively high on the GI scale.  Not to worry though.  Cauliflower is a great replacement.  A warning — if you’re a texture eater like I am, the mashed cauliflower is not the same texture as mashed potatoes.  It tastes wonderful but there’s nothing like potato to give you that soft, velvety texture.  Flavor wise, this recipe for mashed cauliflower from The Lazy Keto comes just about as close are you’re gonna get and she gives some easy and practical tips on how to make this the best non-potatoes ever.

low carb gluten free mashed cauliflower
Cauliflower Mash via The Lazy Keto

Dinner Rolls

I’m giving you two options depending on how you feel.  This first recipe uses a fathead type dough to give you a bread-like consistency, albeit very cheesy tasting still. The second would not be for those closely following the keto diet, but rather those looking for a gluten free option.

low carb gluten free easy rolls dinner
Easy Low Carb Dinner Rolls via Low Carb Maven

Low Carb Maven’s recipe, Easy Low Carb Dinner Rolls, is a great alternative if you just need something to dip in all that gravy goodness.  One suggestion when making anything that resembles fathead dough.  It does take a bit of kneading before the consistency is right.  The dough is notoriously sticky but I’ve found a way that makes the kneading, rolling and clean up a breeze.  Once you finish stirring it together, take a piece of Press & Seal or plastic wrap, spray it down with a little cooking spray and then fold the dough over and over using the ends of the wrap to fold them over with.  When its the right consistency, you can then use the same wrap to roll it out to make whatever shapes you want. This dough is very soft and won’t require a lot of pressure when rolling it out.

gluten free dinner rolls
Gluten Free Dinner Rolls via Hello Gluten Free

Hello Gluten Free’s Dinner Rolls is a pretty straightforward gluten free recipe.  If you don’t have the gluten free flour the recipe calls for, I’m sure any brand will do.  Keep in mind that the amount of xanthan gum is for a flour blend that already contains it.  Your best rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour.  With xanthan gum, a little goes a long way.

Green Bean Casserole

low carb green bean casserole
Low Carb Green Bean Casserole via NutButterLover

I was introduced to green bean casserole when I lived in Texas for a while.  Its a staple in the South and with good reason.  Its savory deliciousness, as you’ll see when you make NutButterLover’s Low Car Green Bean Casserole.  Now the ingredient that makes this dish not very low carb or gluten free is the cream soup that the recipe usually calls for.  You can handle this a few ways.  If you’re familiar with making a rue, you can always make the cream part of the recipe like I do in my recipe Creamy Chicken and Broccoli.  If you’re going for purely gluten free, they have gluten free cream soups.  I bought a couple of the Great Value brand at Walmart.  Then lastly, as the recipe calls for, making a cream sauce without thickener.  Any way you make it, you’ll be glad you did.

Pumpkin Pie

low carb gluten free pumpkin pie
Easy Low Carb Pumpkin Pie via Wholesome Yum

Last but definitely not least is pumpkin pie.  Now I have a confession to make.  I really don’t like pumpkin pie.  Ok, that’s not true either.  I hate pumpkin pie.  Its a texture thing, so I don’t like most other types of custard pies with the exception of cheesecake.  However, I know a huge majority of you, including my husband, love it and I’ve included a pretty great recipe for it.  Wholesome Yum’s Easy Keto Low Carb Pumpkin Pie is pretty much what it says it is.  Probably the hardest part will be the Almond Flour Pie Crust recipe you’ll need to make in advance.  Another way is to try it without crust at all.  Pour the pumpkin custard into a well greased brownie pan, either 8 x 8 in or 11 x 7 in and back until the middle jiggles just a little.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic start to the holiday season and here’s to healthy, flavorful eating!

 

 

Homestyle Banana Bread

Quick breads are one of my favorite treats.  Banana bread, pumpkin bread, they are all yummy.  And they make your kitchen smell awesome.  Its one of those things that you think to youself, “Well, I guess I can’t have that any more now that I’m following a low carb lifestyle.”  But I’m happy to report that really super cleverer people than me have found ways to make one of the best comfort foods, like this homestyle banana bread, ok to indulge in every once in a while.

freckled bananas

This recipe from Low Carb Yum has been a favorite in my house for while.  Sometimes you just can’t eat the bananas fast enough.  They get soft and develop those dark freckles.  And thankfully that is when they are perfect for banana bread. 

Now I would not be me if I didn’t have to put my own flair on this family favorite.  One of the things that I noticed when I first made these is that because of the lack of gluten, the bread tends to be crumbly.  I’d worked on finding a happy medium.  Xanthan gum is a good replacement for the gluten.  Be aware though.  Xanthan gum can be, well, gummy.  Especially in a high moisture food like a quick bread.  Less is always more.  If you find that the bread is still gummy in the middle decrease the amount of gum in the recipe.  

banana bread in a mixer

I also found that straight almond flour was a bit more dense than I liked.  I played with it a bit and found that a combination of almond flour and coconut flour helps with the denseness.

banana bread in bread molds

I also increased the amount of banana originally called for.  It does increase the carb count slightly but adding that extra banana gives the bread that cozy banana flavor you want in banana bread.  I also find that banana bread without a ton of sugar in it can be bland.  I discovered a long time ago, the remedy to the blandness is cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cinnamon especially brings out the natural sweetness of the banana.  The nutmeg gives the bread a warmth like you would get from a bakery.

low carb homestyle banana bread

Not in the mood for banana?  Maybe a little chocolatey goodness with a lower wait time?  Try my Chocolate Protein Mug Cake.  Mix it together, pop it in the microwave and less than two minutes later you have chocolatey goodness!

 

Homestyle Banana Bread
Serves 10
Low carb treat for when you need some home baked goodness!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe medium bananas
  2. 2 tbsp. butter
  3. 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1/3 c almond flour
  7. 3 tbsp coconut flour
  8. 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
  9. 1/4 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 c no calorie sweetener
  11. 1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Mash bananas with mixer or fork. Add in butter, oil, eggs and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add in flours, gum, salt, sweetener and baking powder. Mix until well combined.
  3. In a well greased bread pan, pour in batter and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the top of bread is starting to turn a golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Notes
  1. If middle is still liquid but top is browning too fast, cover top of bread with some aluminum foil and bake until middle is done.
Adapted from Low Carb Yum
Adapted from Low Carb Yum
Simply Tasty Foods https://simplytastyfoods.com/

Crockpot Meatloaf

Today, I’m sharing an old family recipe. I got this great Betty Crocker cookbook for my wedding. It had a recipe for meatloaf that my husband and I were delighted to find was absolutely delicious. Its been a household staple since.  Honestly though, I don’t make it very much. On lean paydays, it takes a lot of ground beef that sometimes you just can’t justify. And its a very long cook time – nearly 60-65 minutes in a conventional oven. Plus, once my husband and I started eating low carb/keto, the bread in my normal recipe made it a no-no.  So I set out to find ways to make one of our favorite dishes that was diet friendly and easy to make.  And what I came up with is my crockpot meatloaf.

crockpot meatloaf ingredients

The beauty of the internet is that you can sometimes find solutions to the problems you have with your favorite recipes. I starting seeing recipes for crockpot meatloaf. At minimum, that solves one of the problems with the long cook time. Throwing the loaf together is pretty simple and then letting it cook all day in the crockpot guarantees little stress after a busy day.

crockpot meatloaf in crockpot

Almond flour also solves the bread problem. The flour helps to bulk up the meatloaf and makes it a-ok for keto as well as low carb eating.  I will give you a bit of a warning however.  Make sure not to overcook your meatloaf.  This holds up pretty well, even with the lower fat ground beef but overcooking can dry it out.  Learn from  my mistake.  Its not pretty but it sure did taste good!

low carb keto delicious mess

 

Crockpot Meatloaf
Serves 6
Easy to throw together dinner that turns out so yummy in your crockpot.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs ground beef
  2. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  3. 3/4 c milk
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp pepper
  6. 1/2 tsp ground sage
  7. 1 tbsp soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 tsp minced garlic
  9. 1/2 medium onion, diced
  10. 1/4 c almond flour
Instructions
  1. In large bowl combine all ingredients until well blended.
  2. Form loaf shape in crockpot.
  3. Set to HIGH and cook for 4 hours or until juices run clear.
Notes
  1. You can also set the crockpot to cook on LOW and cook for about 6 hours if you need more time.
  2. Remember, do not overcook as this will dry the loaf out and it tends to fall apart.
Adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook
Adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook
Simply Tasty Foods https://simplytastyfoods.com/

Vanilla Almond Granola

One of the best things about making your own food is the way it makes your kitchen smell. I guess there could be an argument the other way around but for this one, you’ll be glad its baking in your oven. Granola is a great snack no matter how you eat it but my favorite way to eat it is on yogurt. I justify it by the fact that I’m only eating tablespoons at a time rather than fist-fulls. This recipe for Vanilla Almond Granola is based on a recipe from sallysbakingaddiction.com. The combination of sugar free pancake syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon give it the right amount of sweet spiciness and the coconut oil helps bring together the rest of the ingredients for the right amount of crunchiness that you look for in granola.
 

whole grain sugar free granola vanlla almond
Now before you sniff at me for my choice of sweetener, let me tell you – not all no- or low-calorie sweeteners are made the same. Some are great for cooking or baking such as sucralose or Splenda, as it’s commonly known. Its a stable sweetener. Other sweeteners are fabulous for their taste, if you don’t prefer the taste of sucralose.  Some people like how they’re obtained from natural sources, as in the case of stevia or agave nectar. I actually did try agave nectar with this one. The dark version has a taste surprisingly like pancake syrup by itself. So I thought it would be the perfect choice for this recipe. What I didn’t realize is that it DOES NOT like heat. It was crispy before the first 15 minutes were up. I was really quite surprised. It turned out a lot better when switched up to the sucralose in the mix.whole grain sugar free granolaI can also happily report that this is kid approved.  As soon as I had them try it, they all wanted some yogurt to put it on.  I call that a serious win.
 
You know what else is really, really good and kid approved?  Quick Mini Quiches can be made a million ways and are a cheesy, easy way to send your kids to school with breakfast in their stomachs.  Try it and tell me what you think!

 

Vanilla Almond Granola
Serves 16
Crunchy, sugar free and healthy snack!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  2. 3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  3. 1/2 cup wheat germ
  4. 1/2 cup non-sweetened coconut flakes
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/2 cup sugar free pancake syrup
  7. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and then mix until evenly coated.
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and then spread granola mix over the sheet evenly. You can also line with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  4. Place sheet in oven and allow to bake 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Notes
  1. Serving size is roughly 3 tbsp. of finished granola. The recipe yields about 3 cups.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Simply Tasty Foods https://simplytastyfoods.com/