Saturday, October 22, 2011

Low Carb Holiday Side Dishes

You have finally started to see results from your low carb diet. Now, the holidays are here. Perhaps reinventing your traditional side dishes is a way to remain on your diet, but wouldn't it be fun to find entirely new and tasty sides to celebrate your accomplishment? When it comes to side dishes, the sky's the limit so why not create an entirely new menu of side dishes this holiday season. Let's take a look at some low carb side dishes that just may become new traditions in your family.

Smarter Starchy Sides

We all love our big pile of mashed potatoes and gravy, but on a low carb diet this is pretty much off the menu. But, there are ways to satisfy that starchy craving without all the carbs involved. A great alternative is baked spaghetti squash with Parmesan cheese. This filling and satisfying side dish can fool the taste buds into believing you're getting a tummy full of starchy goodness without all the carbs. Toss in a bit of cream cheese for a real smooth texture that makes this dish even yummier.

Another way to serve a side that tastes starchy without being loaded with carbs is with a brown rice dish. Granted, brown rice is not exactly low in carbs, but you won't eat that much in a serving when you make a side dish that is loaded with mushrooms, vegetables, and even sausage. This starchy side will definitely have you forgetting about your plate of potatoes.

A New Green

Getting away from the usual green bean casserole can be a struggle, but not when you replace it with a side dish that's just as creamy and tasty. It's all about having the same textures in a new dish that we enjoy in our classics. Think of all the healthy greens that can be cooked with creamy ingredients. For instance, a very flavorful green like kale can be tossed with almonds and Parmesan cheese for a tasty side. You have the creamy texture of the cheese and crunchy almonds that replace what you long for in the old classic, but with a fraction of the carbs.

Consider a creamed spinach instead of your usual green bean casserole this year. This is a wonderfully satisfying side dish that is made low carb easily by using almond flour or meal to thicken a white sauce instead of using wheat flour. Add nuts for the additional crunch. Or depart entirely from the greens and choose a cheesy eggplant bake instead. When finding something new to replace the classics, think about what you like about your traditional side dishes and find ingredients that replicate the old, but with a new twist.

Don't Get Stuffed With Stuffing

This is the dish that has most of us falling way off the low carb wagon. The trick here is to create a whole new taste sensation so you don't miss the traditional herbed bread stuffing. Here's where you need to get creative. Instead of bread cubes, think of using cubes of yellow squash, then add cauliflower, sausage, and lots of celery, onion, chopped nuts and traditional herbs. Bake this 'stuffing' outside the bird and you'll get to enjoy a whole new taste without all the carbs of bread.

Again, you want to replace the traditional breaded stuffing with a dish that is different enough to intrigue your guests, and their taste buds. Look at ingredients like squash, nuts, sausage, apples, and even oysters. Use traditional stuffing spices to tie it all together and your new side dish will be a definite hit.

Soups and Salads Move Up to Side Dish Status

Often, we think of soups and salads as starter courses, served before the main dish and sides. But, why not choose a soup or salad as a side to serve along with your turkey or other main dish? Stick with familiar fall ingredients and the flavors will be just right for your holiday table.

Why not make a thick, creamy pumpkin or squash soup to serve with dinner? Try a curried carrot and parsnip soup or even a seafood bisque to satisfy that craving we all have for a nice filling starchy side dish. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted salty almonds for crunch and a dollop of yogurt on top for extra creaminess. You can even serve a hearty potato soup and you won't get as many carbs in the soup as you would in a serving of potatoes and gravy.

Salads loaded with fresh, healthy ingredients can easily replace your traditional green bean casserole or other carb-loaded vegetable side dish. Use crispy spinach and mixed greens with a lot of added vegetables, then toss in goat cheese and other cheeses, along with nuts, and even a variety of thinly sliced hard sausages. Don't forget to add fresh chopped savory herbs to complete the holiday flavor palate you're looking for.

Sometimes tweaking familiar traditional side dishes leaves us feeling a bit deprived; we didn't get our real green bean casserole, stuffing, or mashed potatoes and gravy. But, if we change the menu completely with brand new sides featuring entirely new ingredients, our taste buds are so intrigued, we never miss the old classics.

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