by Joan Copeland

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. No need to think about what present would make a friend or relative happy, just gather around a big table and enjoy company, conversation…and food. I really like food. I like cooking and I really like eating—not so fond of cleaning up afterward, however.

When I lost most of my pancreas to surgery a few years ago and became diabetic, holidays became more stressful. Most of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas foods—potatoes, butternut squash, stuffing, homemade bread, cranberry sauce, gravy, pie, ice cream—contain far more carbs than my little remaining piece of pancreas can handle. Trying to guess how many units of insulin might cover my favorite foods is impossible.Thanksgiving_Dread And then, if I inject enough insulin to cover everything, my family will want to postpone dessert until later, not understanding that I cannot do that.

Fortunately, there are a number of holiday foods that I really enjoy: meat, sautéed brussels sprouts (per James Beard’s recipe), asparagus, green beans, spinach salad. Acorn squash has less carbs than butternut and can be seasoned with butter and herbs or spices rather than brown sugar. Turnips can be mashed with a little heavy cream or cream cheese and make a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes—even better if you add a little crumbled, crisp bacon.

WRAP can be very useful in helping you survive the holidays with your sanity and blood sugar intact. Keep track of your Wellness Tools. Enlist the support of your family and friends. If you are hosting dinner, make sure you make foods that YOU can eat and enjoy. If you are a guest in someone else’s home, bring a vegetable dish that you know won’t spike your blood sugar. If you can’t resist your holiday favorites, fill your plate with safe foods first, and leave room for small servings of your favorites.

Here are a couple tasty, low carb pumpkin alternatives that are easy to make:

Pumpkin Custard
4 eggs, beaten
2 pounds cooked pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup xylitol
1/8 tsp stevia
1/8 tsp black strap molasses
Mix the above ingredients together until well blended.
Add 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and mix well.
Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole or glass baking dish. Bake at 325 about 45 minutes, maybe more, until the center is firm.

Pumpkin Muffins (makes 6)
In medium bowl, mix together:
1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Cut in 1/4 cup coconut oil, butter or lard
In separate small bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 really large egg
1 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp xylitol
1/8 tsp black strap molasses
Mix wet ingredients into dry, divide into 6 well greased muffin cups, bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.