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HIGHER CULTURE: Approaching the Thanksgiving Dinner Visit When You Eat Keto

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

RedState readers are likely familiar with our Joe Cunningham’s pieces he’s written about food over the years in these pages. They cover meats, the joys of baking, and a myriad of other topics centered on home and family. Some of them have been episodes of his then-podcast, “Homestyle” (this episode is specifically about Thanksgiving; here’s another about why baking is so great).

And who could miss his “Food History Friday” VIP series — the most recent of which was in May and entitled “Food History Friday: The History of American Barbecue (Part VI).”

Of course, Brad Slager has the libations angle covered, with his “Dipsology: Beyond The Basics” VIP column.

There’s also been foodie and food-loving content from my colleague Jennifer Oliver O’Connell; check out this one celebrating how to enjoy eating and cooking for others during the pandemic.

So, I figure, since I also enjoy cooking, I’ll hop into the kitchen (so to speak).

My first foray here is on something personal. Let’s say you’re a foodie and you want to enjoy a holiday treat — but you follow the keto way of eating (WOE). Oh, and the current situation is you’re going to visit someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and need to “bring something” to add to the table. This time, I’ve volunteered to bring in a dessert, specifically brownies.

What do you do?

Now, since some of you might not be familiar with exactly what keto entails, I’ll provide this brief explanation: it’s a lifestyle (rather than a diet) in which you aim to avoid high carbohydrate foods and concentrate on health fats and proteins — along with a rich array of low-carb veggies and fruits. You would necessarily avoid pasta, bread, and anything made from complex carbs (essentially, sugary items) which would spike blood sugar. There’s a simple explainer at Diet Doctor’s website.

It’s a fallacy that eating healthy means not getting to enjoy the foods you love. That can be the case sometimes (there’s no real replacement for freshly made corn tortillas, for example, or a sugar-based dish like crème brûlée). But, often, It just means finding recipes that use different ingredients from the traditional ones, which give you the same flavors and satisfaction. Sometimes, as surprising as this might sound, it tastes even better than the original.

One idea I had, since we’re talking about a Thanksgiving dessert here, could combine that most fall-centric of food items — pumpkin — with a brownie.

Check this out:

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies with 2-Ingredient Frosting: this one is vegan (yeah, I know), but it looks super-easy, with just four ingredients (and you could add two more, if you want a frosting). Even better, most of the ingredients are likely already in your cupboard. We’re talking peanut butter (the kind with just nuts and salt), canned pumpkin puree, cacao powder/baker’s chocolate, and a granulated, sugar alternative (like stevia, erythritol, or monkfruit).

This recipe would probably work out best for you if you still want a gooey, fudgy brownie, not a pumpkin cake that incidentally might have some chocolate in it.

Just Give Me the Chocolate

But, what if you don’t want to go the pumpkin route? You could just skip that and go for a regular brownie, and there are a few ways to go about it, even on a budget (as some non-wheat flours can be pricey). By searching online for “keto” or “low-carb” and “brownies,” you will find many choices. Here are a few I found, while considering my options for Thursday’s feast.

Sugar-free Diva has this recipe for Keto Sugar-Free Brownies. The main ingredients here include a reduced carbs, wheat-based flour (Carbalose), which I’ve never tried, but you could (probably) easily substitute almond or coconut flour. It also needs unsweetened chocolate, eggs, and your choice of alternative sugar substitute

Keep in mind that while almond flour/meal can be substituted for all-purpose flour on a one-to-one ratio, you’ll need to use less coconut flour than what’s called for in the recipe, as the stuff is very light in texture and sops up any liquid like crazy. Just play it by ear.

Kirbie Cravings offers this no-bake recipe, which also boasts just four ingredients (plus one more optional item to drizzle on the top) Instead of peanut butter, we find almond butter here, along with sugar-free syrup, coconut flour, and chocolate.

As I mentioned, you don’t have to dip into your savings to make low-carb baked goods that don’t taste like sawdust. These next recipes have no flour of any kind in them. Think of them as minimalist brownies. Hey, there’s even an option for ‘pumpkin brownies’ in this category.

A site called “Fit Mom Journey” claims you can have straight-up fudge in a low carb way, made from heavy whipping cream, chocolate, and sweetener — but I don’t trust it.

If you’re looking to skip making the chocolate brownie altogether (though why anyone would want to do that is beyond me), then there’s this Low Carb Pumpkin Dump Cake to try out. It might be your thing, who knows?

Happy Thanksgiving, RedState readers!