Lighten Up!

Make your table diabetes friendly when you lighten up on carbs this Thanksgiving. More than 9% of the US population has diabetes and more than an additional 25% has prediabetes. Combined, that’s about 1 in 3 of us. A few simple changes to your Thanksgiving menu can make it healthier for diabetics, prediabetics, and, well, everyone really.

I understand that tradition plays an important role in holiday menu selections. When I begin planning for Thanksgiving, I always envision my grandmother’s table. I can’t help it. The image just pops into my head and the next thing you know, I’m craving corn, green beans, cornbread stuffing and that cranberry relish made with frozen cranberries and oranges.

And I know that the holidays are a time when most of us allow ourselves a splurge on the calories. With that in mind, I’m not suggesting you suddenly serve nothing but raw kale and arugula with a squeeze of lemon. You don’t really have to change much at all.
Here are 5 simple ways to reduce the carbs in your Thanksgiving meal.
1)Leave the crackers and bread off the appetizer platter. If you serve dips, offer fresh vegetables or fruit instead. Better yet, serve deviled eggs, butternut squash soup, stuffed mushrooms, roasted nuts, or a relish tray.

2)Add turnips to the mashed potatoes. Turnips have a high water content, less starch, and fewer calories than potatoes. One cup of turnips has 34 calories and 8 grams of carbs. One medium potato has 161 calories and 37 grams of carbs. Try replacing 1/3 of the potatoes in your recipe with turnips that have been peeled and cubed. Boil them right along with the potatoes and adjust the seasoning as needed. I love the resulting mash.

3)Make a sweet potato soufflé. Instead of adding brown sugar and marshmallows to canned sweet potatoes, begin by baking fresh sweet potatoes. Mash the baked potatoes, add a little flour, seasoning, eggs, and sweeten with natural unsweetened applesauce. When you reduce the sugar, you automatically reduce the carbs.

4)Prepare less stuffing and fewer rolls. When there’s less on the table, everyone will automatically reduce their portions so that there will be enough to go around. You don’t have to make anyone share a roll, but provide one for each person rather than two or three.

5)Serve panna cotta for dessert. Adorned with fresh berries and served in glassware, panna cotta looks fancy, but only takes about 15 minutes of prep and cooking time (plus 6 hours of cooling time in the fridge). There’s one tablespoon of sugar in 6 servings and no crust to add carbohydrates.
panna cotta
If panna cotta is too much of a divergence from your traditional desserts, then consider cheesecake with a nut crust, a cherry tart, or an apple tart. If none of those suffice, you can still reduce carbs by limiting the number of dessert selections or the serving size.

As you can see, a few small changes can make a big difference when it comes to carbs. Why not make this Thanksgiving just a tiny bit healthier for the diabetic at your table? You’ll be making it healthier for yourself as well.

And once you’ve finished the meal, don’t forget to laugh. Life is always better when you lighten up!

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