Diabetes Blogs

Prediabetes &Thanksgiving: Yes You Can Have a Decadent and Healthy Feast

Thanksgiving When Alma Schneider Was a ChildThe seven of us kids really made Thanksgiving festive! Here we are in the 1970s with the big turkey in the small apartment. One of the highlights was the stuffing made from a box!

When I was little, Thanksgiving held an incredibly important spot in my life. There were nine of us in all, seven kids, and a dog, and we really made it festive. let me tell you!

We'd pull out the folding table, which when opened, took over the entire living room in our tiny apartment, and gathered up every chair we had to surround the holiday table for all of us to sit. We'd use the dishes we saved for special occasions and set out the crystal wine decanter.

My mother would wear a long, colorful housedress and the rest of us got all dressed up. Such a festive day that started early in the morning with the baking of potatoes, the boiling of the eggs for deviling and the peeling and slicing of the apples for apple crisp.

Then we'd partake in the only deep frying of the year—the highly anticipated corn fritters! A baked ham was always served. Stuffing was a must—made from a box of course, since it was the seventies.

Yes, Thanksgiving was indeed the most anticipated food holiday of the year with all the delicious fats, sugars and carby vegetables. And we liked it like that.

Better-for-You-Options that Taste Good, Too

Sadly, however, times change and so does our knowledge of what that kind of food does to our body. For many, even with health challenges, it is a time to indulge but for others, it is the most dreaded day of the year if we are trying to watch our weight, lose weight, take care of our sugar and our cholesterol.

It's close to impossible to resist all the decadence of the meal when that dang chocolate pecan pie is to your left, the buttery, salty mashed potatoes are to your right and the corn stuffing is staring you in the face. 

That’s why we need to have healthy options that seem like an indulgence but won’t send us running to the doctor on Black Friday in an insulin coma.

Let’s start with the vegetables. Having some greener items on the menu such as salads, Brussels sprouts, spinach pies, and sweet potatoes isn’t a punishment. 

These items can be made in delicious ways that can enhance any T-day experience without leaving you feeling sick and stuffed at 4:00 in the afternoon. Start a new stuffing tradition by swapping out bread crumbs for quinoa. Mix it with seasonal ingredients and everyone will want seconds. 

The Secret's In the Seasoning

Another trick is to season our healthy foods with fall herbs like marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Using spices like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon in our desserts can also make us feel like we’re a part of the party and not deprived of the Thanksgiving experience. After all, it’s a holiday of aromas and a cozy feeling, not just of taste.

In addition, cinnamon is believed to  improve glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes so add some generous shakes to the sweet potatoes and desserts!  

Speaking of desserts, it can be a festive and delicious holiday even if we don’t gorge ourselves on rich chocolate desserts with corn syrup and molasses.

Fresh fruit cobblers made with nuts and unsweetened cocoa can be a tasty treat. Cacao nibs and dark chocolate are all the rage for people trying to watch their sugar and can be found in many supermarkets now. Research suggests cocoa may be useful in slowing the progression to type 2 diabetes and improving insulin resistance in metabolic syndrome. So sprinkle cocoa powder on your fruit—it will bring out the flavor from the healthier fruit sugars.

Below is a recipe that you very well may look forward to— even if you indulge in mashed potatoes. Be sure to make it a molehill size serving instead of a mountain! Just remember that vegetables are delicious, especially when roasted, and family and friends are really what Thanksgiving is all about!

Alma's Healthy Fruit and Nut Cobbler

  • 1 lb  defrosted frozen berries
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 3 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs (or you can use dark chocolate chopped into tiny pieces)
  • Sprinkle of cardamom
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon


  1. Put the defrosted bag of berries in a strainer over a large bowl. (Drink the berry juice that comes out or boil it down for a berry sauce.)
  2. Place the defrosted berries in a pie plate and stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Pulse the cacao nibs, the dates, the nuts, the cinnamon and cardamom in a food processor or blender.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped nut mixture over the fruit on the pie plate and refrigerate or serve.

Note: Do NOT put the nut topping on the pie until RIGHT before you serve it. Pie serves 6.

Nutrition per serving: 74 calories; 3.5 g fat (1.8 g saturated fat); zero cholesterol; 0.2 mg sodium; 31.0 mg potassium; 12.3 g carbohydrate; 4.8 g fiber; 6.7 g sugar; 1.5 g protein. 


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