It’s that time of year again! Pumpkins and leaves and food.  Oh, the food!  I LOVE fall! Time to gather around the table with friends and family alike and celebrate gratitude. And a keto Thanksgiving. Wait, what? Why?

Blame it on that time my family said, “By the way… this year, you are hosting.”

Oh!

No. Ok, yeah…  It’s going to be fine.  I mean, it made sense.  I have kids, and this is their space, and uh…  how many people are coming again? Right.  And, unlike my toddlers, they probably wanted to eat what I cook. So…

But it’s Thanksgiving, so the menu is, like, a given.  Isn’t it?

I mean, dad is diabetic so we have to go low carb.  One kid is refusing to eat meat right now (I have no idea from whence that came, I am starting to wonder if she is even mine…except I was there.)  There is that one family member who has a personal vendetta against vegetables.  I can’t remember if it is onions or walnuts that aggravate grandma’s diverticulitis.  Maybe both?  Someone has gout, right?  Doesn’t red meat cause gout to flare up?

Appetizers, main course and desserts – oh my!

After a minor mental break down, I rallied.  There had to be a “diet” out there that could accommodate most of this mess and allow everyone to fill their bellies without having to think too hard.  I was the host, that was my job. (Sound familiar, mamas??)

So, I researched.  A little obsessively, I might add – I REALLY like food.

And I would love to share my menu with you in case it could save you any of the frantic thoughts listed above.  I settled on a mostly Ketogenic menu, as it seemed to fit most of the dietary needs of my guests.  A keto Thanksgiving could serve as low carb and gluten friendly.  It would be low sugar (because the kids would be wild enough with grandparents there), but still tasty.  I could serve two separate meat dishes and put all nuts and most dairy on the side.  Gout, lactose sensitivities, allergies, diverticulitis, low sodium – check!

The most common response to this is: That doesn’t sound tasty at all, Rochelle.

Spoiler alert, many of these recipes are still staples in our house because they were such a hit.  I understand each palate is different, but I hope you can find some keepers!

Still somewhat of a novice, I enjoy cooking.  I also work full time out of the home (with two additional part-time gigs), have two kids and am still a wife, friend, sister, student, blah, blah, blah.  (I really have trouble saying “no” which is likely how I got into hosting Thanksgiving, anyway…) All of that to say, I am going to try to make this as easy as possible for myself — and for you.

Menu, cooking devices, shopping lists, timelines — OK, here goes!

Keto Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers

Main Dishes

Desserts

Shopping List

  • Turkey (Pick one that fits in your refrigerator – that may be a tidbit I learned the hard way. Otherwise, there is a calculator for that!)
  • Beef Roast (3-5 lbs – this will save and reheat quite well with your antipasti leftovers)
  • Prosciutto
  • Brussel Sprouts (Fresh, or frozen-steamable if fresh are too scary – these will be a little more mushy)
  • Asparagus (Fresh)
  • Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes
  • Basil Leaves (Fresh)
  • Rosemary (I prefer fresh, dry is fine)
  • Parsley (Optional)
  • Paprika (Optional)
  • Mozzerella pearls
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Brie
  • Cheeses of Choice – (pre-sliced if that saves you some time – Antipasti plate)
  • Walnuts/Pistachios/Pecans (One or all – leftovers can go on the antipasti plate)
  • Olives (Green, black and Kalamata if you need some direction – stuffed looks extra fancy – Antipasti plate)
  • Gherkins (Antipasti plate)
  • Pepperoncini (Antipasti plate)
  • Marinated Artichokes (Antipasti plate)
  • Sundried Tomatoes (Antipasti plate)
  • Salami (Antipasti plate)
  • Crackers
  • Red Potatoes
  • Pears
  • Blueberries (or strawberries – topping for Baked Brie)
  • Oranges
  • Craisins (Maybe one or two bag(s) of fresh cranberries. They are good for decorating or boiling for their aroma… or punch! And they freeze well.)

Halfway there… stay with me:

  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar (or Truvia/Swerve if you are going for a lower sugar content)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cinnamon (Ground)
  • Honey (Truvia Nectar is a good low carb alternative)
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
  • Hazelnut Flavoring (optional)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Sauce (low sodium if you need that for dietary reasons.  Also, a couple leftover packets from Panda Express will cut it if you don’t keep this around the house)
  • Olive oil
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Beef Broth (I keep Better than Bouillon in my house for whenever the need arises – so handy!)
  • Mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • Garlic (I choose pre-minced. It’s just faster.)
  • Bacon Crumbles (Should you choose to not make your own)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Heavy Cream (Whipping Cream)
  • Cream Cheese
  • Butter (the real stuff…it’s a special occasion after all.)
  • Whipped Cream (in the can, because realistically, it’s so much more fun)
  • Eggs
  • Canola oil or Coconut oil
  • Orange Juice

Cooking Devices

  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Crock Pot
  • Instant Pot (optional)
  • Bread Maker (optional)

Timeline

Weekend before Thanksgiving:

Is your turkey frozen? Start thawing it! (Thawing time depends on the size of your turkey – Google it)

**Optional: If you know that hosting (or football) is going to command your day on Thursday, there is some additional prep work that can be done ahead of time.

  • Topping for Baked Brie, whichever one on which you decide
  • Bacon crumbles (should you choose to make your own)
  • Toppings for Brussel Sprouts
  • Herb Butter for Turkey
  • Slice cheese for antipasti platter

Tuesday:

Cranberry Orange Bread – I throw all the ingredients (dry first, then wet) for this in my bread maker and let it do its thing. I found my bread maker second hand and it is by far one of the best $15 I have ever spent.  Set it, and forget it.  I don’t glaze mine, but if you want to you can make the glaze ahead and put it on there with flourish as your guests are ready for dessert.

**Note – if you followed the shopping list, you have all you need to make blueberry lemon bread as well should you get inspired.  And the plain glaze works for both.

Brine the turkey – this will take the longest and if you can get this done two days before the big day, you will thank yourself later.  Set it and forget it…for now.

Garlic Aioli – Ten minutes tops to prep this and stick it back in the refrigerator. My kiddos like to help with this one and the mess-to-payoff ratio is ideal.  This can be used with the asparagus or most everything on the antipasti plate.  I like big flavor and do not tend to skimp on the lemon or the garlic. (You can buy this in the store if you really don’t want to make it.  I like the flavor of the home made better.)

Put your roast in the refrigerator to thaw, if it is frozen.

Wednesday:

Put all ingredients for the Balsamic Roast in the crock pot and set it on low to cook overnight – it’s worth it.  It can still be done the day of (6-8 hours on high) if you forget.  This can also be done in an Instant Pot if you don’t have a crock pot or are running out of time.  This is another one I don’t skimp on flavors.  I mind the ratios in the recipe, but I tend to add more for maximum flavor.

**Pro-tip: If your roast is thawed, you can always brown it before you put it in the crock pot.  Bonus points if you brown some onions in the pan before the roast, and then toss the whole shebang in the crock pot.

Caprese Salad Skewers – My kids love to help with this one too; it’s kind of like playing with food.  On a toothpick/cocktail stick, place a mozzarella pearl, then a basil leaf (cut to taste – or use the whole darn thing for more flavor.  It’s one large leaf per skewer in my house) and lastly a grape tomato (or half of a cherry tomato).  Cover on a platter or place in a tupperware and stick those puppies back in the fridge.  The mozzarella tends to weep a little bit, so I wouldn’t do these more than one day ahead.

Balsamic reduction – This is just a concentrated form of balsamic vinegar.  (You can buy this ahead in the store if you need extra time.)  It is pretty easy to make at home though and you can add things to it as you do it more to alter the flavor.  Reduce it on the stove for about 20 minutes and you are done.

Chocolate (Hazelnut) Mousse – I prefer mine with a bit of hazelnut flavoring – but ultimately it’s optional.  I have placed these in individual containers to simply pull them out of the refrigerator, top with shipped cream and serve.  Pretty clear plastic cups make for easy clean up, too.

Thanksgiving Day

Apps First!

Antipasti Platter – Open it, plate it and set it out! Feel free to use leftover berries, cheeses, Craisins and nuts in addition to olives, lunch meats and sauces.  If there is time, decorate with the leftover herbs and whole fresh cranberries.

Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus – Wrap and roast. Set out with the aioli.

Baked Brie – Roast, top and serve with crackers

Now that your guests are distracted by yummy treats…

Turkey – This guy will need the most cooking time, so plan your prep around him.

Herb smashed red potatoes – Boil, cool, smash, season and roast

Brussel Sprouts – Cut (if you purchased larger sprouts), season and roast

Baked Pears – If you have pre-cut these, they can be done after the main meal and about 20 minutes before you eat dessert.

My kiddos love this menu as there is a certain level of do-it-yourself.  There is an option to add some form of fruit or cheese to just about everything. And whatever is left can be dipped in something.

Admittedly, I now LOVE to host.  I love being in my own space and serving others within that space sings to my introverted soul.

I hope this menu helps out for your next hosted meal.  Or perhaps you find some staples for your family.  If nothing else, if it makes hosting either less scary or less stressful, I would consider it time well spent.

Bon Appetite!

thanksgiving dinner
Photo Credit: Alysia Loerch Photography
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Rochelle is a desert-rat from Arizona who kept moving north until she hit Colorado Springs; good luck getting her to leave now. She wasted no time snagging her husband under the pretense of athleticism and outdoorsy-ness. Among other things, eleven years of marriage has yielded two beautiful daughters, Harper and Quinn. Momming these super-sassy littles is her biggest adventure yet, and provides for some serious writing material. Rochelle works out of the home also, and has a diverse background in public relations, social work, student advising, youth ministry and pyrotechnics. She is presently finishing up her MBA and is juggling all of it fairly well for a person with little to no hand-eye-coordination. She is a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child and she is beyond grateful for hers.