Low Carbing at Christmas

Low-carb chocolate fudge
Low-carb chocolate fudge

Are you low-carbing for Christmas? A lot of traditional Christmas food fits well with a low-carb diet and, with the addition of a few good substitutes, you don’t need to feel you are missing out on anything.

Crisps and dips. Most dipsguacamole, blue cheese dip etc – are low-carb. For dipping, use raw vegetables instead of crisps.

Starters. Pates can be served without toast or oatcakes and prawn cocktail without the bread. The latter is a nice light starter. Serve the prawns and sauce in Little Germ lettuce leaves. To make cocktail sauce to dress 200g prawns, mix four tablespoons of mayonnaise with one of tomato puree. Add a teaspoon of brandy and a few drops of Tabasco. Or try this broccoli and Stilton soup for green-y goodness.

Turkey, ham and sausages are all obvious. Help yourself! Remember, that a meal such as this will be heavy in protein. People on insulin need to take this into account. Our book The Diabetes Diet highlights what you do to cover protein, but see this post too for further clarification.

Gravy does have carbs because it is usually thickened with flour. However, this isn’t significant so don’t worry about it unless you are on a gluten-free diet. Cornflour is suitable for gluten-free diets and this can be used instead.

The classic stuffing uses sausage meat and bread crumbs, both of which have carbs. If you want some, keep it to a small amount.

SONY DSCBread sauce, roast and mashed potatoes all have carbs, but there are low-carb equivalents you can make. Pureed cauliflower can be substituted for mashed potatoes and braised celeriac are another delicious substitution for potatoes in general. My sister served up cauliflower cheese for Christmas dinner a couple of years ago – and I’d rather have that than potatoes or bread sauce any day. You can also try these delicious Parmesan-crusted cauliflower steaks from Nourished Peach.

Cranberry sauce. Most commercial sauces are packed with sugar. You can make a version with cranberries and sweetener instead which will still have some carbs but not as many.

Christmas cakes, pudding and mince pies. There aren’t really substitutes for these things because they depend so heavily on dried fruit, flour and sugar. Christmas pudding and cake isn’t a winner with everyone anyway because of its heavy fruit content. When you’ve eaten low carb for a while, you often find you lose your sweet tooth , so having a pudding at the end of a meal is no longer as appealing. However, if you do want something sweet, may we suggest Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie.

Dig in - it's good for you.
Dig in – it’s good for you.

Another idea is the cheese course – much better than pudding! You don’t need the biscuits. Celery sticks or carrot sticks will give you some crunch, as will walnuts or apple slices. A good cheese board has roughly four cheeses – a Farmhouse cheddar, a blue such as Stilton or Roquefort, a soft one (Brie or Camembert) and AN Other. Goat’s cheese is my preference.

Chocolate. It’s hard to escape chocolate at Christmas. From the special offer wraps piled up at the front of supermarkets, to the yule logs, chocolate Santas and stockings, the stuff is everywhere. If you love chocolate, a few squares of good quality dark chocolate do not contain many carbohydrates. Treat yourself to a good quality bar to make the occasion. You could also make this chocolate peanut fudge, which is easy to make and very low-carb.

Finally, the trick to remember with Christmas is that it is one day of the year. When it comes to low-carbing consistency is the key. If you’re low-carb most of the time but for one or two days you decide to dig in, do so guilt-free. Do this mindfully, enjoying everything but keeping an eye on portions. This is especially important if you are on insulin as you will need to know how much to take to cover what you are eating.

Happy Christmas all!

Low-Carb Chocolate Fudge

Peanut butter, sweetener and cocoa powder.
Peanut butter, sweetener and cocoa powder.

Tis the Season to… Find your will power challenged by sugary temptation..?

If ever there was a time of year that is challenging for the low-carb dieter it is this one. The traditional treats of Christmas – cake, mince pies, pudding and an awful lot of chocolate – are all jam-packed with carbs and sugar.

A little wavering off course is perfectly acceptable, but if you do want to stay as low-carb as you can then low-carb baking and low-carb “treats” are the way to go.

A lot of the food that is around at this time of year is perfectly suitable for low-carbing and delicious anyway – hams, turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, smoked salmon, fish starters and lots of cheese.

There are lots of recipes online for low-carb fudge, but most of them are American and they often use ingredients that aren’t commonly available here. I did, however, find this recipe on a Keto website and all the ingredients are easily available.

The recipe didn’t specify whether you should use smooth or crunchy peanut butter, so I went for smooth as I thought that would mimic the texture of fudge more closely. Meridian do a smooth peanut butter that has no salt or sugar in it and you’ll find this in health food shops. I chose Truvia as my sweetener, but Splenda could be used too.

This quantity makes about 55 pieces. Count roughly 2g of carbs for each piece. Although it isn’t as sweet as conventional fudge, it is very rich indeed. Low-carb fudge usually needs to be kept in the fridge – and this recipe is no exception. I recommend bagging the fudge up in small quantities and storing in the freezer.


Low-Carb Chocolate Fudge

  • Servings: makes 55 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Don't eat it all at once...
Don’t eat it all at once…

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1 cup smooth sugar and salt-free peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa (I used Bioglans Superfoods Cacoa Powder, but ordinary sugar-free cocoa powder is fine)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Line a square baking tray (about 9-ins square) with baking parchment – you will need to line the sides of the pan too.
  2. Place the first three ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave in bursts of 30 seconds until the three ingredients are soft enough to beat together.
  3. Beat together well – the best way to do this is with a hand mixer, as the mix will separate out alarmingly if you use a wooden spoon.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract, sweetener and cocoa powder and mix well until it is combined.
  5. Put the mix into the lined tray. The easiest way to do this is tip it into the pan and use a palette knife to spread out evenly.
  6. Chill either in the fridge overnight) or place in your freezer for an hour or so until it has firmed up. Please note, this will not firm up as much as conventional fudge does and you will need to keep it in the fridge.