One of the best parts of the holidays is that moment when everyone gathers around the table for the meal where there’s a plate set for each person.
A lot goes into the average Thanksgiving Day feast.
In preparation, families mash tons of potatoes, stir oceans of gravy and spend untold hours looking for something to do with the cranberry sauce besides dump the gelatinous, maroon cylinder onto a plate and hide it behind the turkey.
But what if you or one of your guests is following a special diet, like the popular ketogenic diet, which encourages eating fat and protein, while staying away from a lot of carbohydrates?
You can scour cookbooks and sift through websites looking for recipes and advice, but you don’t have to do it all. Several area businesses have options to take some of the strain off the already harried holiday cook.
If you don’t want to cook at all, there’s the Corner Kitchen on Bigley Avenue in Charleston.
The Corner Kitchen routinely carries keto-friendly meals for lunch or dinner, ranging from meatloaf with mashed cauliflower or roast chicken with broccoli and cheese to eggplant lasagna with green beans or chicken and low-carb dumplings.
They also offer rotating keto desserts, and owner Brandon Dickens said Thanksgiving Day will be no different. The restaurant will be open and have meals for people to pick up, though they recommend ordering ahead for groups and families.
“We’ll have a keto Thanksgiving dinner for people,” he said.
Dickens added that there was a good way to do keto and a dirty way.
“The dirty way is to load up on greasy foods like cheeseburgers and bacon,” he said. “We do it clean, with no carbs and no sugar.”
Sugar Pie Bakery also takes keto seriously.
Caitlin Bronaugh, a baker at the cupcakes-and-treats bakery, said she started following the diet over a year ago and that it has worked for her.
For the holidays, she said, “We will be doing gluten free and keto pumpkin pies and pecan pies, keto New York-style and pumpkin cheesecakes. We will also have a keto pumpkin cheesecake loaf available.”
Bronaugh said they keep their keto foods sweet with erythritol, a naturally derived sweetener made from corn and potatoes.
“It’s doesn’t spike your blood sugar,” she said.
Keto foods are good for diabetics, Bronaugh added.
Teri Blevins at Lil Bit of Heaven Cupcakes in St. Albans said her shop carries about 60 different keto options but would be focusing on just a couple of items for Thanksgiving.
However, they would also be offering a couple of things nobody else is doing, including selling keto bread cubes, which can be used for stuffing.
“We’ve been doing the keto thing here for about three years,” Blevins explained. “But year one, I made the keto breadcrumbs for stuffing and used that for Thanksgiving.”
Blevins said it was a huge hit at home.
“I’ve got two boys. They’re not keto, but they’re big eaters,” she said. “They said it was the best stuffing I’d ever made.”
Lil’ Bit of Heaven Cupcakes will have the keto breadcrumbs along with a recipe for making a savory stuffing with them available in bags meant to serve four or eight, Blevins added.
They’ll also be offering homemade keto pumpkin snickerdoodle ice cream made with allulose, which — like erythritol — Blevins said is derived from corn and potatoes.
“It’s from nature and unlike some other sweeteners doesn’t harden when it’s frozen,” she said. “It’s important for ice cream to have the right texture. This isn’t like ice milk.”
Rock City Cake Company on Capitol Street in Charleston offers keto cheesecakes, keto pumpkin pies, cookies and just added pepperoni rolls made with almond flour and shredded mozzarella cheese — in case you’re looking for something to have instead of the turkey.
The bakery also carries a good selection of keto desserts, including a coconut cream pie and a flourless chocolate raspberry cake.
On the other side of the spectrum, Keeley Steele, owner of Starling’s Coffee and Provisions in Charleston’s East End, said they didn’t have anything on the menu for the keto crowd, but that Starlings did have two gluten-free options — a peanut butter pie and a coffee cake ring.
Steele added, “We always carry our ‘tray bake’ cookie bars in vegan and gluten free.”
For the holidays, advance orders at all of these businesses are recommended.
Want to go:
The Corner Kitchen, 1701 Bigley Ave., Charleston. Call 304-400-4096. wvcornerkitchen.com
Sugar Pie Bakery, (currently) 3624 MacCorkle Ave. SE., Charleston. Moving next week to 94 RHL Boulevard, South Ridge. Across from the Holiday Inn Express. Call 304-205-7753. sugarpiebakery.com
Lil Bit of Heaven Cupcakes, 95 Olde Main St., St. Albans. Call 304-729-8038. lilbitofheaven.rocks
Rock City Cake Company, 205 Capitol St., Charleston. Call 681-265-9154. rockcitycakeco.com
Starlings Coffee and Provisions, 1599 Washington St. E., Charleston. Call 304-205-5920. starlingswv.com