friends sitting around a table

Thanks Be! Low-Carb Thanksgiving Recipes to Serve and Share

This is an updated version of a post that was first published in November of 2016.

Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is all about the food; massive quantities of food prepared from heirloom recipes. Think of a Thanksgiving spread in any cooking magazine and you’ll imagine lots of serving dishes occupying a vast expanse of dining room table. Trouble is, traditional menu items and portion sizes often give even a healthy digestive system a workout. For people who struggle with intestinal gas and/or bloating, Thanksgiving Day can turn into an endurance contest.

If you’re hosting, you’ll want to make sure that everyone enjoys the feast. If you’re a guest, you may not be sure what’s ‘safe’ and what should be off-limits. Here’s how to enjoy Turkey Day either way.

It’s Your Party

Say low-carb and people immediately think “no flavor,” but that’s not the case with these recipes. Here are some thoughts on the care and feeding of everyone – including you – with an abundance of tummy-friendly versions of favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Pre-holiday prep

Shop Ahead

Whether it’s your first Thanksgiving or your fiftieth, you’ve probably figured out that this meal isn’t going to come together in an hour. Reduce your stress level by doing as much as possible before the big day.

First, check the ingredient listings in your recipes. Look in your pantry and fridge to figure out what you already have. If you spend a half hour in the kitchen now, you’ll save money on unnecessary duplications and avoid emergency runs to the supermarket.

Don’t forget dishwasher/dish detergent, aluminum foil, wax paper, twine (to bind the turkey legs), or any special kitchen equipment (large pans, utensils, thermometer, etc.) you may need.

If you’re buying a frozen bird, check out this handy USDA reference chart to calculate the estimated hours per pound to safely thaw your bird in the fridge or in cold water. FYI: even the faster cold water method takes up to twelve hours.

How to keep guests fed and entertained throughout the day

Whether you’re expecting a lot of company or just want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible on Turkey Day, check out these make-ahead recipes.


Just in case everything hasn’t been timed to the minute, you may need to serve something quick. Prep a couple of Mark’s Daily Apple’s appetizers, such as this antipasto tray (avoid the pickles unless fermented foods are already part of your diet) and keep your sanity. (Hint: make a small plate for yourself; even the cook has to eat! Remember to drink lots of water while you’re cooking.)

The Main Event

If you’re not a stuffing fan, you’re not alone! Serve a savory, stuffing-free bird with this Easy Low Carb Roasted Turkey and Gluten-Free Gravy recipe. The recipe jumpstarts prep for a Thanksgiving favorite by moving the aromatics to the pan, thereby making the “foundation of your pan gravy.”

Skip the commercially prepared rubs and make your own. The DIY alternative can save the added carbs often found in commercially prepared condiments.  Garlic, saffron, basil, marjoram, onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme are all you need.

You Won’t Have to Pass On These Stuffings!

Traditional stuffing has lots of bread – and lots of carbs. Try this Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom and Wild Rice stuffing instead.

Savory Pecan-Bacon Stuffing

Sweet and Light Paleo Cornbread Stuffing

Starters and Sides

Low-carb cranberry sauce

Skinny Mom Cranberry Relish

Chai Butternut Squash Soup

Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Love and Lemons Cauliflower mashed “potatoes”

Vegan Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Cup of Jo’s Butternut Squash Risotto

The Grand Finale

People generally stick with the classics for Thanksgiving dessert. Save molecular gastronomy for another time – today is all about pumpkin or apple pie. All that refined sugar and wheat flour in heirloom piecrust recipes can trigger intestinal gas, so fool your guests’ taste buds with one of these tummy-friendly options:

Low-carb Yum’s piecrust

Low-carb Diet’s pumpkin pie

Living Healthy With Chocolate’s apple pie

Glamorous Bite’s apple galette

Hint: Double the piecrust and cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’ recipes to make a delicious, low-carb use of any leftover gravy, turkey, and vegetables. Pat the bottom layer of the extra crust into a pie plate, roll out the top layer onto wax paper, cover with another layer of wax paper, then refrigerate.

Remove your pie shell and top layer when you begin clearing the table. Beginning and ending with the cauliflower mash, layer other leftover vegetables and cubed turkey into the pie plate. Remove one layer of waxed paper from the top crust and drape, pastry side down, over the filled bottom layer. Crimp and seal the edges; cut four steam vents in the top. Refrigerate until about two hours before dinnertime.

Remove from the fridge and allow to pie to rest at room temperature for about a half hour. Place in a cold oven, then bake at 375 degrees for an hour, or until the top is golden brown. With refrigerator space at a premium, this is a great way to reduce the need for storage containers and solve the Black Friday dinner dilemma.

You’re the Guest

Want to have a great evening but don’t want to feel as stuffed as the turkey? Here’s what to watch for:

The ‘Welcome’ Drink

Hosts have been taught to greet guests with the offer of a drink. Accept non-carbonated water or – if it’s offered – herbal tea. A punch glass-sized serving (4 ounces) of apple cider is okay: that’s about 15 carbs and roughly 60 calories.  Otherwise, that welcome drink could be the first of three or four alcoholic beverages by the time the last plate is scraped. Can you really afford all those extra carbs?

One last word about alcohol: the more you drink, the more difficult it’ll be to eat wisely throughout the day.


You’ll likely see dishes of nuts, platters of antipasti, baskets of party mix and/or trays full crackers. Ignore them. All those little nibbles are provided to keep you from getting too hungry if dinner isn’t served on time, but they also pack astonishingly high amounts of carbs and calorie per ounce. One serving of Macadamia nuts, for example, contains about a tenth of the average woman’s daily caloric allowance. Deli meats are often prepared with nitrates and other GI-irritating additives.

Instead, opt for a balance of healthy fiber and low-carb finger foods. If you’re offered whole-grain crackers, a couple will help take the edge off your hunger but not make you feel bloated.

Cherry tomatoes are a neat, flavorful nibble that can help satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you regularly consume fermented foods, say ‘yes’ to pickles or olives. The spicier the food, the less likely you are to overindulge.

Drink water in between trips to the buffet table.

Say ‘yes’ to herbal tea: mint, ginger, and chamomile help aid digestion.

Dinner is served

In a perfect world, you’d be able to dig in and enjoy as much as you want of everything that’s served. If the meal features dishes you can’t eat or can only eat in moderation, here’s what to do:

Do help yourself to a fairly large serving (4 or 5 ounces) of turkey. Fortunately, it’s a a great choice for most folks. Just avoid eating the skin, which can cause digestive upset.

Don’t announce that you’re on a restricted diet. Your hosts have no way to remedy the situation once the meal is served. (If, on the other hand, your dietary restrictions were overlooked, just politely accept a small portion of what’s offered and either leave it uneaten or take a bite.)

Do accept a serving of baked sweet potatoes and/or green vegetables (such as peas or beans). Cranberry sauce, particularly the canned variety, is high in sugar. One tablespoon won’t hurt.

Don’t indulge in the green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow, creamed onions, etc.; these traditional favorites have the nutritional profile of pumpkin pie. You know you’re going to want dessert, so don’t exhaust your carb budget early in the meal.  You’re going to feel robbed if you have to pass up dessert.


This is likely going to contain the motherlode of carbs or gas-producing ingredients. A typical serving of apple pie has only 10 grams of carbohydrates. That’s only 3% of the RDA for those on a 2000 calorie diet, but gas sufferers have other concerns. The crust is usually made with butter (dairy) and flour (wheat) that can cause gas; apples contain the FODMAP fructose (although cooked apples are easier to digest). Have it plain, not with ice cream. Pumpkin pie tops out at 323 calories and 45 carbs. It’s also likely to be prepared with milk or cream and topped with whipped cream. If you’ve followed our advice to this point, go ahead and help yourself to one piece of pie. You’ve earned it!

You’ve probably been looking forward to seeing loved ones all year. The last thing you want on your mind is gas and bloating!

If you can’t resist that second helping of stuffing, two CharcoCaps® capsules will  help promote digestive comfort.*  CharcoCaps® dietary supplement, Anti-Gas Detoxifying Formula will let you enjoy your favorite foods and beverages with less worry.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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