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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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!