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30 ‘Diabetes-Friendly’ Thanksgiving Recipes That Type-2 Diabetics Can Enjoy

Eat, be merry, and still keep your blood sugar on track.

diabetic thanksgiving recipes, thanksgiving recipes for diabetics
Mike Garten

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year for family to spend time together—and enjoy an indulgent meal. But for the 30 million Americans who live with type 2 diabetes, a spread of carb-heavy foods and sugary desserts can make managing blood sugar spikes difficult.

Of course, it can be even harder than usual to stick to a diabetes-friendly diet when all of your friends and family are chowing down on your mom's homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie. However, it's important to remember that you can enjoy the feast, too—it's all about moderation.

"Eat the foods you love and look forward to throughout the year, while being mindful of how you are balancing your plate," says Lori Zanini, R.D., certified diabetes educator and author of the Diabetes Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed. "Deprivation never works, and it usually leads to overeating later."

So how do you let yourself indulge without going overboard? Keep these tips from Zanini in mind before your feast:

Pile on the protein. Foods that are low-carb and high-protein will be the best options. Your body digests protein more slowly, thus creating less of an impact on your blood sugar levels. Go for the turkey first!

Choose the right carbs. "I always recommend that carbs come from high-quality, plant-based sources such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and berries," says Zanini. "These types of carbs will also come with fiber, which helps food digest slower." Limit the added sugar.

Keep your portion sizes in check. After all, there will be leftovers. "Quantity and portion sizing will be the most important factor in keeping your blood-sugar levels balanced through the holidays," Zanini explains.

Make smart swaps. You can make tiny changes to almost any recipe to make it more diabetes-friendly. For example, when making baked goods or desserts, substitute a healthier type of flour, suggests Zanini. "Coconut and almond flours can be especially helpful in lowering the carbs, but whole wheat, oat, and chickpea flours will also add higher-quality carbs compared to white flour, creating a more diabetes-friendly dish," she says.

Get moving. If you do overeat (hey, we are all human!), try going for a walk after the big meal, which will help prevent a blood sugar spike.

So there you have it—there's no need to fret over the holiday spread. To make things easier, we've rounded up diabetes-friendly alternatives to nearly every turkey day favorite, plus a few recipes from some of our favorite bloggers to make your meal planning easier. Trust us: The entire family will have no problem digging into these mouthwatering dishes.

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1 Roasted Pumpkin and Pomegranate Salad
autumnal salad with fried pumpkin, lentils, radicchio, pomegranate seeds, leaf salad and parsley with dressing
Westend61Getty Images

Loading up on fiber-filled fruits and vegetables is a great way to help prevent blood sugar spikes, and this salad is a light and seasonal way to do just that.

Get the recipe for Roasted Pumpkin and Pomegranate Salad »

2 Roasted Butternut Squash With Ricotta Salata
roasted butternut squash with feta cheese
haoliangGetty Images

Cheese makes everything better, including this plate of roasted butternut squash that's sprinkled with tangy ricotta salata.

Get the recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Ricotta Salata »

3 Apple-Cranberry Compote
homemade cranberry sauce
RenphotoGetty Images

Ordinary cranberry sauce gets an upgrade—plus an extra dose of fiber and a lot less sugar—with this tart twist that draws on maple syrup for sweetness and incorporates an apricot surprise.

Get the recipe for Apple-Cranberry Compote »

4 Sweet Potatoes With Shredded Salad
sweet potatoes with shredded salad

A Thanksgiving staple full of nutrients, sweet potatoes are a must-have come Turkey Day. We love this sweet and savory sweet potato option that foregoes added sugars and uses the potato's natural sweetness and 2 tbsp. of maple syrup for a delicious side dish.

Get the recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Shredded Salad >>

5 Ginger Pumpkin Pie
ginger pumpkin pie

What's Thanksgiving without some pumpkin pie? The great thing about our pumpkin pie recipe is that the entire pie is made with only 1/2 cup of brown sugar. The rest of the sweetness comes from the natural pumpkin and ginger.

Get the Ginger Pumpkin Pie Recipe >>

6 Apple and Sweet Potato Hash Browns
sweet potato hash browns
Getty Images

You'll gladly swap out your sugary marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes for these savory crispy sweet potato tots. Psst: They hide a whole apple for more digestion-promoting fiber.

Get the recipe for Apple and Sweet Potato Hash Browns »

7 Green Beans With Almond Gremolata
green beans with almond gremolata

Green bean casserole is typically loaded with breadcrumbs. Have a healthier (and lower-carb!) take on the Thanksgiving veggie favorite with this recipe. Coming in at only 9 grams of carbohydrates per serving, it's crunchy, tasty, and packed with nutrients.

Get the Green Beans with Almond Gremolata >>

8 Cornbread, Apple, and Sausage Stuffing
oven dish full with meat stuffing with apple slices
wsmaharGetty Images

This carb-heavy side dish gets a diabetes-friendly twist with the addition of sausage, protein that promotes stable blood sugar by taking longer to digest, as well as fiber-filled apples and fennel.

Get the recipe for Cornbread, Apple, and Sausage Stuffing »

9 Creamy Pumpkin-Peanut Soup
high angle view of pumpkin soup on wooden table
Irena Jovanovska / EyeEmGetty Images

Start the meal off right with a cozy-satisfying starter soup made from two quality carbs that help keep blood sugar levels balanced: pumpkin and peanuts.

Get the recipe for Creamy Pumpkin-Peanut Soup »

10 Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad With Hazelnuts, Broiled Lemon, and Pecorino
shaved brussels sprout salad recipe
Mike Garten

Sliced Brussels sprouts are tossed with chives and parsley, then topped with Pecorino Romano, hazelnuts, and lemon slices for a holiday salad that's anything but boring. Fun fact: Brussels sprouts contain a compound called glucosinolates, which are linked to lowering cancer risk. Combined with the fact that this dish packs 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving, there's no reason not to have it on your table.

Get the recipe for Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Hazelnuts »

11 Butternut Squash Soup
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes butternut squash soup
Mitch Mandel; Thomas MacDonald

Start off with this aromatic and vitamin-rich soup to keep hunger and portions in check. This butternut squash soup is seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and fresh tarragon to infuse it with mouthwatering flavor. We use low-fat buttermilk in place of the full-fat version and light molasses for just a touch of sweetness.

Get the recipe for Butternut Squash Soup »

12 Cranberry and Apricot Compote
cranberry apricot compote
Mike Garten

Even if you're usually not the biggest fan of cranberry sauce, you have to give this version a try. There are zero grams of added sugar in this naturally sweet dish, which incorporates a secret ingredient for extra antioxidants and minerals: dried apricots. A bit thicker than your average sauce, this cranberry-apricot compote will give your turkey an added punch of flavor.

Get the recipe for Cranberry and Apricot Compote »

13 Spice-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips With Yogurt and Turmeric Vinaigrette
sweet roasted carrots with tahini sauce, pomegranate
Sima_haGetty Images

Spice up Thanksgiving with this Indian-inspired dish featuring roasted carrots and parsnips, which are rich in key minerals like calcium and magnesium. And instead of pairing these superstar veggies with a traditional dressing, try an equally creamy combo of Greek yogurt and turmeric, a higher-protein, lower-saturated-fat alternative that's just as tasty.

Get the recipe for Spice-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Yogurt and Turneric Vinaigrette »

14 Butterflied Turkey With Herb Gravy
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes butterflied turkey with herb gravy
Con Poulos

No Thanksgiving table is complete without an herb-roasted turkey. This recipe calls for garlic, fresh thyme, parsley, sage, and reduced-sodium chicken broth, which add flavor and depth. Just be sure to remove the skin from the turkey to cut back on fat and cholesterol.

Get the recipe for Butterflied Turkey with Herb Gravy »

15 Ginger and Garlic Green Beans With Red Bell Pepper Strips
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes ginger and garlic green beans with red bell pepper strips
Alexandra Rowley

Trade in the calorie-laden creamy casseroles for this flavorful green bean side dish that’s healthy enough to have more than one helping.

Get the recipe for Ginger and Garlic Green Beans With Red Bell Pepper Strips »

16 Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake
pumpkin maple cheesecake recipe prevention
Alexandra Rowley

Fall into autumn with this delicious and low-cal pumpkin maple cheesecake. With only 21 grams of carbs and 150 calories, this cheesecake will hit the spot.

Get the recipe for Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake >>

17 Cauliflower Stuffing
diabetic thanksgiving dishes cauliflower low carb stuffing
Food, Faith, Fitness

It goes without saying that stuffing is one of the most carb-heavy dishes at Thanksgiving—and also one of the most popular. To keep the carbs at a minimum, this blogger tossed out the bread and incorporated bite-sized cauliflower pieces. Cooked together with crunchy celery, onions, garlic, and a host of spices and herbs, you won't even miss the bread in this warm, delicious stuffing.

Get the recipe from Food Faith Fitness »

18 Maple Butternut Squash, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pumpkin Seeds, and Cranberries
diabetic thanksgiving recipes roasted brussels sprouts salad
Julia's Album

This colorful autumn salad pulls in some of our favorite seasonal veggies. Plus, at only 232 calories per serving, this tasty side dish is diabetes-friendly. To slash the carb intake, you can use less maple syrup if desired.

Get the recipe from Julia's Album »

19 "Sweet Potato" Mash with Pecan Topping
low carb sweet potato mash with pecan topping

A lower-carb alternative to sweet potato casserole, this dessert uses pumpkin and cauliflower, with a topping of candied pecans for a little sweetness and crunch. Trust us, you won't even taste the cauliflower—it's mainly there to bulk up the mixture—and you'll feel even better eating it for only 235 calories per serving.

Get the recipe from Lowcarb-ology »

20 Low-Carb Cornbread
low carb cornbread
Elana's Pantry

Who says you can't still enjoy a bit of bread on Thanksgiving? This blogger swaps in almond flour for a lower-calorie cornbread to go with your meal. You can even add in 1/8 teaspoon of Stevia for added sweetness.

Get the recipe from Elana's Pantry »

21 Spiced-Up Fall Squash Salad
diabetic thanksgiving recipes fall squash salad
Love & Lemons

This autumn salad will fit in perfectly on your holiday table, and it's jam-packed with nutrition to boot. Roasted butternut squash is tossed in spices and paired with fresh greens, chopped dates, pomegranate seeds, and goat cheese, then coated with a dressing made from organic apple cider vinegar, dates, and seasoning.

Toasted pistachios add extra crunch to this flavor feast, and Zanini says they're her favorite replacement for croutons. "They're among the highest snack nut in protein and fiber," she explains.

Get the recipe from Love & Lemons »

22 Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
diabetic thanksgiving recipes maple mashed sweet potatoes
Chocolate Slopes

Since sweet potato casserole is such a Thanksgiving staple, here's another way to adapt this classic recipe to be diabetes-friendly: Blend mashed sweet potatoes with plain yogurt.

"This creates a delicious dish that has higher quality carbs with added protein from the yogurt to slow absorption and prevent a spike in blood sugar levels," explains Zanini. A bit of maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg gives this creamy side dish its sweet fall flavors.

Get the recipe from Chocolate Slopes »

23 Caramelized Brussels Sprouts With Maple Orange Glaze
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes caramelized brussels sprouts with maple orange glaze
Pinch of Yum

These mini cabbages get a touch of sweetness from pure maple syrup and the juice of one orange, so it wont make your blood sugar levels sky rocket. They also help the Brussels sprouts crisp up in the oven without using too much oil.

Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum »

24 Mushroom & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes mushroom  quinoa stuffed acorn squash
Simply Quinoa

Quinoa offers plant-based protein and a nutty taste to this delicious side dish, while mushrooms lend a meaty texture and a dose of vitamin D. To boost the flavor and nutrition, this blogger also adds some nutritional yeast and tops it off with pomegranate seeds for a pop of color.

Get the recipe from Simply Quinoa »

25 Toasted Pine Nut Herb Pumpkin Muffins
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes toasted pine nut herb pumpkin muffins
Running to the Kitchen

Swap blood-sugar-raising dinner rolls for these gluten-free pumpkin muffins, which are made with cashew meal, tapioca flour, and coconut flour. Real pumpkin puree keeps them nice and moist and packs them with vitamin A and fiber. Chopped rosemary and sage give them mouthwatering flavor that can't be beat.

Get the recipe from Running to the Kitchen »

26 Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with Kale
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes sweet potato mac and cheese with kale
The Foodie Dietitian

This classic Thanksgiving side dish gets a nutrition upgrade with sweet potatoes, whole-wheat macaroni, and kale. In place of regular bread crumbs, this recipe calls for panko breading and fresh sage, which give it a nice crunch. Yum!

Get the recipe from The Foodie Dietitian »

27 Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes rosemary roasted root vegetables
Sweet Peas and Saffron

If you could describe autumn with food, it would be this exact recipe. Packed with carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and beets, this vibrant dish is as nutritious as it is colorful. Be sure not to overcrowd your sheet pan to ensure the veggies turn nice and crisp.

Get the recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron »

28 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes pumpkin whoopie pies
Lemons and Basil

This perfectly portion-sized treat will satisfy your pumpkin pie craving without the risk of going overboard. The pumpkin cookies are made with real pumpkin puree, oats, and cashew meal, while the cream cheese frosting has hints of vanilla and cinnamon. The good thing about this recipe is that it has zero refined sugars. That said, it calls for honey, which you can limit to keep your blood sugar under control.

Get the recipe from Lemons and Basil »

29 Sweet and Spicy Pecans
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes sweet and spicy pecans
House of Yumm

If you're hosting Thanksgiving, your guests will absolutely love this pre-dinner snack. Lightly sweetened with corn syrup and brown sugar, these spiced nuts will hold over your guests while the turkey cooks!

Get the recipe from House of Yumm »

30 Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Parfaits
healthy diabetic thanksgiving recipes pumpkin pie greek yogurt parfaits
Destination Delish

Another healthier alternative to pumpkin pie, this artfully designed and festive parfait features real pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, lemon juice, and pumpkin pie spice. Top each cup with granola and nuts for a hearty crunch.

Get the recipe from Destination Delish »

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