A Diabetic’s Guide to Thanksgiving

  • November 21, 2016
A Diabetic’s Guide to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most highly-anticipated meals of the entire year, but it can be disastrous on your waistline. Not only are the stuffing, cranberry sauce and potatoes packed with carbohydrates, but they’re also high in calories. In fact, the Calorie Control Council estimates that the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving!

Although the holidays are a tempting time of year to ignore your dietary guidelines, if you are diabetic adhering to a diabetes diet is key in managing this chronic disease. Luckily, keeping your diabetes in check on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be restricting. All it really takes is some careful planning and replacing foods high in carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar with healthier options.

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Delicious Recipes for a Diabetic Thanksgiving

From the turkey to the side dishes, these recipes for diabetics allow you to enjoy the all the different tastes of the season without jeopardizing your health. Plus, there’s no reason why you can’t indulge in these appetizing dishes year-round.

Herb-Roasted Turkey (Courtesy of the American Diabetes Association)

(makes 12 servings)

Not only is this herb-roasted turkey a good source of protein, but it also has enough flavor that you don’t have to top it off with any cranberry sauce, which is high in carbohydrates and added sugar. But if you’re still craving some cranberry sauce, just add a tablespoon to your turkey – any more than that and it won’t benefit your diabetes diet.


5 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

3 teaspoons fresh minced sage, divided

3 teaspoons fresh minced thyme, divided

3 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 ½ cups low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 5-pound turkey breast, skin on, washed and patted dry


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large roasting pan with foil. Set a rack inside the roasting pan and coat it with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the butter with 2 teaspoons each of the sage, thyme and rosemary, plus salt and pepper. Save the remaining teaspoon of each of the herbs.

3. Combine the chicken broth and wine in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Add the remaining teaspoon of sage, thyme and rosemary, and lower to a simmer.

4. Separate the turkey breast skin from the meat to create a pocket without removing the skin. Rub the butter herb mixture all over the breast meat, and place the skin back down on the breast.

5. Set the turkey on the prepared rack in the pan, and roast the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F and the juices run clear (typically takes about 90 minutes). Baste every 15-20 minutes using the chicken broth and white wine mixture.

6. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.

Turkey Pan Gravy (Courtesy of Diabetic Living)

(makes 12 ¼ cup servings)

What would the Thanksgiving turkey be without some gravy? Enjoy all the flavors of your favorite Thanksgiving side without the calories or fats thanks to this recipe.


1 medium onion, peeled and halved horizontally

Reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Lightly coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat. Add onion halves to skillet, cut sides down. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until onion is charred. Remove from heat and set onion in skillet aside.

2. Strain liquid from turkey roasting pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4-cup heatproof glass measure; discard solids. Skim off and discard all of the fat from the liquid. Add enough canned chicken broth to remaining liquid to measure 3 cups total liquid.

3. Add broth mixture, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, and black peppercorns to onion halves in skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 7 minutes. Strain broth mixture, discarding solids; return broth mixture to skillet.

4. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, the flour, salt, and ground black pepper, whisking until smooth. Add to broth in skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for another minute, and serve with the turkey.

Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes (Courtesy of Diabetic Living)

(makes 4 ¾-cup servings)

Pumpkin is the food of the season, and this recipe is perfect for any diabetic Thanksgiving dinner. The best part is that these pumpkin mashed potatoes are so flavorful that you don’t even have to add any extra butter or sugar.


1 pound medium baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)

1 tablespoon butter or tub-style vegetable oil spread

1/8 teaspoon ground sage

1/4 cup fat-free milk


1. In a covered large saucepan, cook potatoes and garlic in enough boiling water to cover for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain.

2. Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed until nearly smooth.

3. Beat in canned pumpkin, cream cheese, butter, ground sage, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Gradually add milk, beating until light and fluffy.

4. Return to saucepan; heat through.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole (Courtesy of Diabetic Living)

(makes 12 ½ cup servings)

Although green beans are a non-starchy vegetable, this kind of casserole is often filled with calories and unhealthy fats. Recipes for diabetics, like this one for green bean casserole, are a much healthier substitute.


1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon dry ranch salad dressing mix

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 large onions, halved and sliced (2 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup soft whole wheat or white bread crumbs (1 1/3 slices bread)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large saucepan, cook green beans in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes; drain and place in a 2-quart baking dish; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, dry dressing mix, salt, and pepper until combined. Whisk in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; remove from heat.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender and starting to brown. Remove 1/2 cup of the onion mixture; set aside.

4. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir into sauce mixture. Pour over beans in dish; toss with tongs to coat.

5. In a small bowl, stir together reserved onion mixture and bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over bean mixture in casserole. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

Have a Happy & Healthy Diabetic Thanksgiving

Even after adhering to a diabetes diet, it is still possible to experience a diabetic emergency, which is the last thing you want to worry about while celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones. To prevent a life-threatening scenario, ensure your safety every day of the year with a Medical Guardian medical alert device. Should you ever experience a diabetic shock or fainting spells, you can rest assured that Medical Guardian will get you the help you need right away.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Medical Guardian is a leading provider of innovative medical alert systems that empower people to live a life without limits.

KEYWORDS: diabetic Thanksgiving, recipes for diabetics

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