Don't worry about your diet this Thanksgiving, these keto recipes and tips can help make it easy

Many of the spices, herbs and proteins that make Thanksgiving great are Keto.

In fact, Michelle Stacey, author of "Holiday Keto: Eat, Drink and Still Shrink!" shared all the versatile ingredients needed to turn a keto-friendly menu into something the whole family can enjoy.

The high-fat, low-carb diet encourages protein and vegetables, so a turkey and sides such as Brussels sprouts with bacon or green beans and even cheesy cauliflower casserole are all fair game, Stacey explained to "Good Morning America."

"The main event is the turkey, which is totally keto itself," she said. "And with baking, it's all about the right substitutions."

Stacey's Thanksgiving sides that will have you craving seconds

Cauliflower is the chameleon ingredient for a keto-friendly feast

“It is the most versatile ingredient you can have in your kitchen when it comes to keto. It's so neutral in flavor, so it can be the base of something that's totally keto and full of other flavors," she said. "You can make a sweet potato casserole that uses mashed cauliflower -- you can rice it and transform it into a pumpkin risotto. You can thinly slice the stems and make scalloped potatoes -- layer them in a pan with cream and cheese, and it’s totally gooey and wonderful with literally five ingredients."

Cauliflower 'Mac' and Cheese

Serves: 4

Vegetable oil cooking spray
4 cups cauliflower florets
1⁄4 cup melted butter
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.
In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets, melted butter, salt and pepper.
Place cauliflower on baking sheet; roast for 15 minutes or until tender.
In a glass bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream and milk. Microwave mixture until melted, about 1 minute.
Toss cauliflower with cheese mixture, place into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
Garnish as desired with cheese and freshly cracked pepper to serve.

Whipped Cauliflower Mash

Serves: 4 Ingredients
6 cups water
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Garnishes: chopped chives, cracked black pepper


Add water to large pot and boil, then add cauliflower. Boil until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, then drain cauliflower.

In a blender, combine cauliflower, garlic, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper; blend until smooth. (If the mash is too thick, slowly add reserved cooking liquid to obtain the desired consistency.)

Pour cauliflower mash into serving bowl, and garnish as desired.

Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Serves: 6

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic; cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in cream cheese and heavy cream; cook for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Place in serving dish; top with chopped pecans.

Top tips to enjoy a keto-friendly Turkey Day

Carve out a cycle day to stay on track before and after

In order to stick with the program, Stacey advised keto eaters on a long-term diet "build in a cycle day," which is basically a cheat day that you don't use to binge. "You can use it as a mental safety valve to stick to keto day to day and then use this to fulfill a small craving."

"Thanksgiving comes once a year. So if your aunt makes the best pumpkin pie -- plan to have a piece of it. Don't approach it with a diet mentality of 'I had one bite of something, it's all over.' If you say, 'I’m gonna make this exception for pumpkin pie and I’m gonna enjoy every minute of it,' then you can be chill about it and not stress or feel guilty later."

Stacey explained that diets that work best are the ones people can "maintain long term and find strategies that allow to coast through stuck points."

Make spices and fresh herbs the MVP ingredients of holiday keto cooking

"Spices are totally freebies on keto, the only limit is your palate," Stacey said.

"Cinnamon plays a big role in Thanksgiving and its one of the best spices for you. It's such a powerful antioxidant," Stacey said of the popular seasonal spice that can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

"Herbs like rosemary are really powerful in terms of phytochemicals," she explained of the savory green stems that are often used to liven up everything from the turkey to sides like stuffing or gravy. "You can really up the satiation factor of foods -- like turkey which is a pretty bland meat -- using things like fresh rosemary and fresh thyme."

Make a keto-friendly dish and bring it with you

"If you know that you're going to an aunt and uncles or something, you can make a keto pumpkin cheesecake and bring it with you, so you know that you're going to get those flavors that you want," she said.

Even for families separated due to the pandemic who may have to cook their own individual Thanksgiving spread this year, Stacey reminded and encouraged that "if you’re cooking your own food, it’s automatically going to be healthier" because you'll omit long lists of additives and "you have more control over what you're putting in your food."

Check out this easy recipe for chef Sarah Steffens' no-bake pumpkin cheesecake from Real Ketones.

"The ultra-decadent no-bake pie has the perfect combination of creamy and crunchy and can be made up to two days in advance of serving," Steffens said in the sweet holiday recipe.

End the evening with a keto-friendly toast

Stacey suggests doing a cocktail such as a hot toddy or an old-fashioned with a granulated sugar substitute or a champagne toast to enjoy a keto nightcap.

"Spirits of any kind have zero carbs and wine is pretty low-carb," she said. "Mixed drinks with tonic or coke can get you in trouble, but a glass of champagne is only one or two carbs."