Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

25+ Diabetes-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips

diabetes thanksgiving graphic

Keep reading for some of my favorite delicious and perfect for people with diabetes Thanksgiving recipes!

Thanksgiving can be tricky to navigate when you have diabetes. These recipes and tips will help you enjoy a delicious meal AND keep your blood sugars stable for an easy diabetes Thanksgiving!

diabetes thanksgiving recipe scalloped potatoes
Gluten Free Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes by Milk & Honey Nutrition

3 General healthy diabetes thanksgiving tips

So, how do you stay “healthy” during Thanksgiving, and the entire holiday season for that matter? Well, to start… let’s clarify what I mean by “healthy.” I’m not talking about super “clean eating” or all “healthy” recipes in the traditional sense. I’m talking about how do we navigate Thanksgiving so that we feel both emotionally and physically our best? (Hint: Keep reading, but the diabetes Thanksgiving recipes listed below can help!)

  1. First, remember that it’s one day. If you want that real-deal-straight-from-grandma’s-oven-piece-of-pecan-pie, GO FOR IT! The emotional joy you will feel is so much better for you than the stress and anxiety of restriction on a holiday (or any time of year).
  2. Second, don’t starve yourself the day before, day of, or day after to “save room” OR to “make up” for what you eat at Thanksgiving dinner. Again, it’s one meal. Just like one salad doesn’t instantly make you healthy, one dinner doesn’t instantly make you unhealthy. 
  3. And finally, eat what you want and don’t eat what you don’t want to. Sure, someone might be shoving another piece of something at you or asking if you want something you don’t really want… but that doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Save that room in your stomach for what you really want to eat! And then use the rest for these diabetes Thanksgiving recipes!
health benefits of thanksgiving diabetes

Do you have to only eat low carb thanksgiving desserts?

No! Allow yourself some freedom to enjoy what you feel comfortable with. Chat with your doctor about how you can enjoy traditional Thanksgiving treats while still managing your diabetes.

Things to consider for a diabetes Thanksgiving meal

One thing to remember when you have diabetes is that high and low blood sugars have a direct impact on the way you feel physically. And it’s hard to be present with the people you care most about when you don’t feel well. 

So, how do you navigate wanting to honor your cravings and the food you’ve looked forward to all year, but also wanting to feel physically your best so you can enjoy the day?

My primary tip, in addition to trying some of the diabetes Thanksgiving recipes listed below… is to NOT try to sub a new recipe for a family classic. You’ll just be disappointed. 

Example A: I will never ever ever ever try to make a lower carb or healthier cornbread dressing recipe. I’ve been eating my grandma’s version since I was two, and I don’t plan to ever stop. But, things like green bean casserole and sweet potatoes? Sure, I have no problem making a tasty and somewhat healthier version that will make managing my blood sugars easier.

gluten free cornbread dressing for diabetes thanksgiving
Gluten Free Cornbread Dressing by Milk & Honey Nutrition

Diabetes Thanksgiving Recipes

So, now… on to some of those diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving recipes. And remember, these are all delicious and great options. But if you try to sub one of them for a classic you’ve been looking forward to all year, you’ll probably be disappointed. Click on any recipe name to see more about it:

Appetizers

  1. Ultimate Fall Harvest Charcuterie Board
  2. Creamy Dijon Spinach Artichoke Dip
  3. Pumpkin Pie Hummus
  4. Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups
  5. Grown Up Deviled Eggs
  6. Jalapeño Cranberry Dip
  7. Stuffed Endive Appetizer with blue cheese and apple
  8. Roasted Okra with Smoky Red Pepper Ricotta

Sides

  1. Roasted Purple Sweet Potato and Beet Souffle
  2. Maple Walnut Sweet Potatoes
  3. Spiced Carrot Apple Slaw
  4. Maple Balsamic Sautéed Mushrooms
  5. Basic Mashed Butternut Squash
  6. Sheet Pan Maple Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
  7. Cajun Green Beans
  8. Mediterranean Green Beans with Cilantro and Garlic
  9. Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce
  10. Harvest Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing
  11. Butternut Squash with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Desserts

  1. Lower Sugar Pecan Pie
  2. Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie
  3. Chocolate Greek Yogurt Pie with Hazelnut Crust
  4. Roasted Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole
  5. Lower Sugar Gluten Free Apple Crisp
  6. Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
  7. Mini Pecan Pies (Plant based)

My favorite healthy diabetes Thanksgiving appetizers

1. The Ultimate Fall Harvest Charcuterie Board

This fall themed charcuterie board is PERFECT for munching on Thanksgiving day while you prep the big meal! Ultimate Fall Harvest Charcuterie Board by Milk & Honey Nutrition

fall charcuterie board on round wood and metal platter

The Ultimate Fall Harvest Charcuterie Board

This Ultimate Fall Charcuterie Board is perfect for everything from a fun family-night-in, to a small gathering, to a snack board on a weekend afternoon! 
View Recipe

2. Creamy Dijon Spinach Artichoke Dip

This delicious and creamy dip may have a few summer flavors happening but it’s perfect for family gatherings! Creamy Dijon Spinach Artichoke Dip by Milk & Honey Nutrition

Creamy Dijon Spinach Artichoke Dip in cast iron skillets

Creamy Dijon Spinach Artichoke Dip

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3. Pumpkin Pie Hummus

This pumpkin dip is packed with fiber and protein, which can keep blood sugar stable by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. Pumpkin Pie Hummus by A Grateful Meal

4. Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups

These light bites are a savory and tasty start to your holiday meals! Tasty Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups by Melissa Traub

5. Grown Up Deviled Eggs

Each bite of these grown up deviled eggs packs protein and healthy fats as well as a punch of flavor from horseradish and whole grain mustard. Grown Up Deviled Eggs from The Gourmet RD

6. Jalapeno Cranberry Dip

Jalapeño Cranberry dip is festive and nutritionally balanced (contains protein, carbohydrates and fat). It would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving spread! Jalapeño Cranberry Dip by Leanne Ray

cranberry jalapeno dip thanksgiving appetizer
Jalapeño Cranberry Dip by Leanne Ray

7. Stuffed Endive Appetizer with blue cheese and apple

These stuffed endive leaves offer the same crunch as chips and dip, but with more fiber and fewer carbs. They make a great appetizer for Thanksgiving! Stuffed Endive Appetizer with blue cheese and apple by It’s a Veg World After All

8. Roasted Okra with Smoky Red Pepper Ricotta

This simple, but fancy looking, side is a good source of fiber thanks to roasted okra and a whole red pepper whipped into the ricotta. Ricotta provides some protein too to help moderate blood sugar response. Roasted Okra with Smoky Red Pepper Ricotta by Make Healthy Easy

Tasty diabetes Thanksgiving sides

1. Roasted Purple Sweet Potato and Beet Souffle

This roasted purple sweet potato and Beet Souffle is equally delicious and nutritious… and beautiful to look at! Roasted Purple Sweet Potato and Beet Souffle by Milk & Honey Nutrition

purple sweet potato and Beet Souffle
Roasted Purple Sweet Potato and Beet Souffle by Milk & Honey Nutrition

2. Maple Walnut Sweet Potatoes

You NEED these Maple Walnut Sweet Potatoes in your life! The flavor and texture combine for the perfect holiday side dish. Maple Walnut Sweet Potatoes by Milk & Honey Nutrition

maple walnut sweet potatoes for diabetes thanksgiving
Maple Walnut Sweet Potatoes by Milk & Honey Nutrition

3. Spiced Carrot Apple Slaw

This recipe is so versatile, serve hot or cold, by itself or with a tangy yogurt sauce, with chicken or over rice… the possibilities are endless! Spiced Carrot Apple Slaw by Milk & Honey Nutrition

4. Maple Balsamic Sauteed Mushrooms

These maple balsamic mushrooms have just a hint of sweetness from maple syrup and pair wonderfully with any main course! Maple Balsamic Sautéed Mushrooms from Kiss in the Kitchen

5. Basic Mashed Butternut Squash

This simple mashed squash is easy to make & requires just a few ingredients to make. It is full of fiber too to help keep blood sugar levels more stable. Basic Mashed Butternut Squash from Sinful Nutrition 

6. Sheet Pan Maple Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

Maple balsamic roasted veggies are a great side dish for any holiday gathering, full of fiber and antioxidants. Sheet Pan Maple Balsamic Roasted Vegetables from Bucket List Tummy

7. Cajun Green Beans

Here’s a heart healthy, high fiber side dish that’s good to you and for you! Cajun Green Beans by The Millers Kitchen

8. Mediterranean Green Beans with Cilantro and Garlic

a delicious twist on green beans and a great way to add extra veggies to balance out a meal for blood sugar control. Mediterranean Green Beans with Cilantro and Garlic by Olive Tree Nutrition

Thanksgiving green beans
Mediterranean Green Beans with Cilantro and Garlic by Olive Tree Nutrition

9. Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

There’s always going to be something sweet in cranberry sauce because they’re so tart, but this recipe slashes the amount of sugar while boosting warm seasonal spices for a much lower-sugar option. Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce by Champagne Nutrition

10. Harvest Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing

A harvest kale salad packed with seasonal ingredients and topped off with a pumpkin seed oil dressing. Perfect for a weekday lunch or as a special appetizer for your Thanksgiving menu. Packed with fiber and healthy fats, this Harvest salad is also appropriate for someone with diabetes! Harvest Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing by Kara Lydon

11. Butternut Squash with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

What’s better than butternut squash that’s sweet with no added sugar? Butternut Squash with Pomegranate Vinaigrette by Amy Gorin

Diabetes-friendly thanksgiving desserts

1. Lower Sugar Pecan Pie

Pecan pie was always a family favorite growing up, so I was determined to figure out a way to make a lower sugar pecan pie that was equally as tasty and delicious. This one has a hint of coconut and creaminess that I think make it the perfect after meal treat during the holidays… you’d never know it was “lower sugar.” Lower Sugar Pecan Pie by Milk & Honey Nutrition

Lower Sugar Pecan Pie on table with pecans

Low Sugar Pecan Pie

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2. Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie has reduced sugar from a traditional version and uses honey yogurt in place of the whipped cream dollop. It’s been deemed a keeper! Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie from Live Best

3. Chocolate Greek Yogurt Pie with Hazelnut Crust

The best part of this beautiful Chocolate Greek Yogurt Pie dessert recipe is that it was crafted to be low sugar and high protein, with 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. How did we manage that? Welcome to the mystical, magical world of cooking with Greek yogurt! Chocolate Greek Yogurt Pie with Hazelnut Crust by Rebecca Bitzer

4. Roasted Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole

We love this roasted sweet potato banana casserole! It has far less sugar and more fiber than traditional sweet potato marshmallow casserole! Roasted Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole by To Taste

5. Lower Sugar Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Fall is here and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing more satisfying and cozy than a warm bowl of apple crisp! And, if you need a low sugar or gluten free apple crisp recipe, this is the one for you! Lower Sugar Gluten Free Apple Crisp by Milk & Honey Nutrition

low sugar gluten free apple crisp

Low Sugar Gluten Free Apple Crisp

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6. Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

These homemade peanut cups couldn’t be easier to make and are the perfect single serving dessert! Indulgent yet balanced with healthy fats and protein, they are ideal for anyone being mindful of desserts and potential blood sugar spikes! Homemade Peanut Butter Cups by Kiss in the Kitchen

7. Mini Pecan Pies (Plant-Based)

The simple homemade crust is made of almond flour, coconut oil, and Medjool dates. The gooey filling is made from almond butter, almond milk, and plump Medjool dates. Each mini pie is topped with a pecan half and an optional dollop of coconut ice cream. Mini Pecan Pies (Plant based) by Patricia Bannon

mini pecan pies
Mini Pecan Pies (Plant based) by Patricia Bannan

Whether Thanksgiving is around the corner, or you want a diabetes-friendly dish that you know will be delicious, make sure to come back to this list!

More to explore...

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low sugar gluten free apple crisp

Low Sugar Gluten Free Apple Crisp

My low sugar gluten free apple crisp recipe is so simple to make and loaded with delicious seasonal apple flavor!

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