If you’re interested in trying out the keto diet, you might be a little worried about what you’ll be able to cook when the holidays come around. After all, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, and many other festive staples are all, unfortunately, loaded with carbohydrates.
While some people might try to convince you otherwise, eating keto around Christmas doesn’t have to be hard! While you will have to pass on some of the more traditional holiday dishes, there’s still plenty of room to get creative and enjoy delicious food. In this post, we’ll show you just how many keto-friendly meals there are that are perfect for Christmas!
This post is all about keto-friendly holiday eating. We’ll provide links to some of our favorite festive recipes that are low in carbs, as well as a brief rundown of what the keto diet is.
What Is Keto?
If you’re not familiar with the keto diet, we’re here to get you acquainted. Below is a quick introduction to ketogenic eating, its benefits, and what you can and can’t eat when you go keto.
The Basics of Keto
At its core, the keto diet is a way of eating that discourages eating carbohydrates. While some low-carb diets mainly focus on carbohydrate reduction, keto is about carb elimination.
The goal of nearly completely cutting carbs out of your diet while on keto is to get your body into a state known as ketosis. In ketosis, your body starts burning its fat reserves for energy instead of the energy it would normally derive from carbs.
The Benefits (and Drawbacks) of Keto Eating
For many keto adherents, the main goal of sticking with the diet is sustainable weight loss. Research on keto eating seems to indicate that the diet can reduce the amount of hunger that you feel by decreasing your body’s production of the hormones that regulate your appetite.
However, while the keto style of eating has been shown to have benefits in many cases, it’s still important to make sure that the lifestyle is right for you before you go all in. The ketogenic diet can be intense, and it might feel a bit extreme if you’re used to eating a carbohydrate-rich diet. In addition, vegans and vegetarians may have a particularly hard time making keto work, as plant-based eating usually encourages the consumption of healthy sources of carbs.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether keto is right for you based on your preferences, needs, and lifestyle. At JOW, we believe that enjoying your food is an essential aspect of being healthy. That means that if you love carbs and feel like your body needs them, you might want to skip keto.
What Can – and Can’t – You Eat on Keto?
If you decide to jump in and try the keto diet, here’s what your plates will primarily contain:
- Meat: Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and fish are all keto-friendly, thanks to their minimal carbohydrate content. These foods are high in protein and also often contain a significant amount of fats. You’ll find plenty of varieties of meat in the recipes below.
- Eggs and dairy products: Eggs are also keto-friendly due to their low carb count, high-fat content, and moderate protein payload. Other dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter are also often part of a keto eating plan, albeit in moderation. These foods contain some carbohydrates in the form of lactose, so they can’t be eaten in abundance on a keto diet.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, and many more are all staples of the ketogenic diet. While eating keto, you’ll ideally be taking in a lot of vegetables, using them to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to fuel your body.
- Nuts and seeds: Eating a moderate amount of certain nuts and seeds is encouraged on the keto diet. Walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and others are all high in fat and low in carbohydrates, which makes them ideal for keto eating. However, larger servings of nuts are usually discouraged, as they can be high in calories and increase your overall carb intake.
- Some fruits: Overall, fruit is a bit controversial among keto adherents. Some fruits are much higher in sugar (i.e., carbs) than others, and eating these fruits tends to be universally discouraged for keto eaters. That means pineapple, mangoes, apples, peaches, oranges, and other popular fruits are off-limits while eating keto. Instead, you can help yourself to small servings of berries on occasion.
So, What Can I Cook on Keto?
Now that you know what you can and can’t eat on a keto diet, it’s time to introduce you to some delicious recipes that are 100% keto-friendly! Keep reading to get inspired.
1. Beef, Green Beans and Mashed Cauliflower
We’re big fans of making steak around the holidays, as it’s always a perfect meal for special occasions. Whether you opt for a flank, a T-bone, a New York strip, or a different cut, a wintertime steak is guaranteed to please!
To make the case for steak even stronger, this high-protein food has virtually no carbohydrate content, making it an ideal choice for keto eaters. It also contains plenty of nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Pair your steak with cooked veggies, and you’ve got yourself a simple, delicious, and nutritious meal for the holidays.
Our recipe for beef, green beans, and mashed potatoes makes the perfect starter steak, and it’s an excellent introduction to cooking beef if you’re unfamiliar. However, there’s just one ingredient in this recipe that we’ll need to swap out to make it keto-friendly – the potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are delicious, to be sure, but they’re also high in carbohydrates, which makes them incompatible with a ketogenic diet. To keep this recipe low on carbs, you can opt to swap out the potatoes for mashed cauliflower, a simple, tasty, and low-carb alternative.
Mashed cauliflower is unbelievably easy to make – all you need to do is chop a head of cauliflower into florets, boil them in a pot, and mash the boiled florets with a fork or potato masher. Add in butter, salt, and pepper, and you’re good to go! To reduce your carb intake, you can easily swap out mashed cauliflower for potatoes in just about any recipe.
2. Duck Breast and Sauteed Cauliflower
It’s looking like this holiday season is the time when cauliflower finally gets to hog the spotlight! This low-carb recipe centers around a classic festive food – roasted duck breast. Enjoyed around the holidays in Europe for centuries, roast duck is high in protein and contains virtually no carbs. That low carb content makes duck an excellent choice for keto eaters.
When preparing roast duck around the holidays, it’s always a good call to use some savory, festive spices. You’ll fill your home with warm, inviting aromas when you cook your duck with fresh thyme, basil, cloves, coriander, and garlic. Yum!
One of the main reasons we think keto eaters will love this recipe is simple – it’s nearly entirely built on meat and vegetables. In addition to the rich, savory duck, you’ll get an added boost of flavor and texture from red onion and cauliflower. These two veggies contain barely any carbs, and they respond incredibly well to roasting in the oven.
3. Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon and Cauliflower
We’re just big fans of cauliflower around here.
This recipe is another keto-friendly gem that we think is perfect for the holidays. Roasted proteins are wintertime staples, and oven-cooked salmon is no exception. Among adherents of the keto diet, salmon is a legendary food thanks to its high protein content and abundance of omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon pairs perfectly with a marinade of sweet maple syrup and tangy dijon mustard. If you’re trying to avoid carbs entirely, however, we recommend going easy on the maple syrup for this recipe. While this delicious natural sweetener can be used in moderation by keto eaters, too much of it will start to rapidly increase your carb intake. So, the best way to keep this recipe keto-friendly is to make your marinade a bit more tangy and a bit less sweet.
4. Chicken, Chorizo, and Roasted Veggies
This is another mouth-watering one-pan dish that we love to make around the holidays. The aromatic blend of garlic and spices really brings the chicken and chorizo to life, and every bite of roasted red pepper is bursting with flavor. If you’re eating a strict keto diet, you’ll want to opt out of using potatoes, as they’re relatively high in carbs. However, that doesn’t mean your roasted chicken and chorizo have to be lacking in flavor!
Instead of using roasted potatoes in this dish, decrease the meal’s carb content by adding more vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, squash, and eggplant all taste delicious when roasted, and they all tend to be in season in the fall and winter. Use those veggies in this recipe to cut down on carbs and make your plates even more nutritious and colorful.
5. Golden Veggie Soup
This warm, comforting soup is made with a coconut milk base, which gives it a rich, creamy texture and high levels of healthy fats. The addition of traditional Indian spices like turmeric and fresh ginger makes this one of the most aromatic and savory soups you’ll ever taste, and each bite has plenty of flavor and texture thanks to cauliflower and chickpeas. Our mouths are watering already.
If you’re committed to keeping carbohydrate content to a minimum this Christmas, we recommend cutting the amount of chickpeas that you use in this soup in half. Garbanzo beans have plenty of protein, but they also contain a significant amount of carbs – although most of those carbs are fibrous.
6. Pork Meatballs With Mashed Squash
This dish is definitely a crowd-pleaser. It’s packed with flavor thanks to the richness of the pork sausage, and the mashed squash is a perfect alternative to sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes. If you’re committed to low-carb eating, you may want to swap out the butternut squash for a less starchy variety, but you can still get that rich, creamy texture with help from eggs and a tiny bit of flour.
7. Steak With Blue Cheese Sauce
This is another tasty steak recipe that we highly recommend trying this holiday season. There are plenty of different ways to cook steak, but making yours in a hot frying pan with a little bit of butter is what we recommend – especially for this recipe.
It’s also a great idea to try using a strip steak or flank steak for this dish. These cuts tend to taste the best when cut into thin slices, which are perfect for dipping in a rich sauce. Speaking of rich – the irresistible blue cheese sauce in this recipe is the perfect match for steak!
8. Roasted Zucchini and Feta
Who knew that Greek cuisine could fit in so perfectly on your holiday menu? This zucchini casserole is surprisingly festive, and it’s perfect for sharing with a group.
If you’re headed to a Christmas party in the weeks to come, this is a perfect low-carb dish to take with you. Eating keto can be tough around the holidays, but it’s easier than ever, thanks to recipes like this one. Low in carbs and high in protein and healthy fats, it’s also very easy to make and requires just your oven and a baking dish.
Eating Keto at Christmastime Can Be a Blast
With recipes like these, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would have a hard time eating keto during the holidays. Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that you don’t need carbs to make a delicious Christmas dinner – and given you some inspiration for what to make this holiday season!