With a little planing, you can be true to your body and enjoy the holiday without the consequences you might face if you were to load up on grains, dairy, gluten and sugar!
And, by the way… the idea that people feel sleeping on Thanksgiving from the Tryptophan in turkey? Come on! Do you really think it has nothing to do with saturating your body with
a) too much food… period
b) too much sugar
All the more reason to approach the holidays healthfully… Paleo style!
As with any dinner party you’re hosting, there’s no need to deviate from your Paleo lifestyle in terms of what you’re going to serve just because Uncle Jack loves his Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or Grandma tires to insist on having (awful!) green bean casserole, tossed with canned cream of mushroom soup and topped with deep fried onion rings!
- Keep the holiday theme in place, and use the basic ingredients that convey the spirit of this wonderful time of year.
• Pumpkins, apples, turkey, greens, roasted veggies… and spices! Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for the more ‘sweet’ dishes and thyme, sage, celery seed and onion for the savory palate.
• Focus on what you ARE serving and don’t even mention what you’re not.
• Offer a wide range of colors, flavors and textures, and you’re more likely than not to have the same great results I’ve been happy to have had: no one leaves asking “where are the stuffing and pies”? Rather, they comment that they enjoyed the variety of foods that were quite seasonal and they loved the fact that they left feeling satisfied but not stuffed!
You know that you’re not doing anyone a disservice by not offering the traditional, non Paleo Thanksgiving foods. Think of it as an opportunity to introduce your loved ones to a fabulous way of eating. They may even take something away such as ‘I never knew roasted Brussels Sprouts could be so tasty’ or ‘I really didn’t mind not having stuffing after all’!
Incidentally, I have to interject here briefly and add a note about ‘stuffing’. If you really stop and think about it, why would you really want to literally eat something that is going to stuff you with bread!?!?
Here’s a re-cap of what a Thanksgiving meal tends to look like at The Stephenson’s:
Passed Hors d’oeuvres
Figs stuffed with raw walnuts
Melon wrapped in thinly sliced turkey
Crudites Plate (lightly steamed broccoli & cauliflower, baby carrots, cherry tomato) with avocado and lime
Sliced Apples (toss them in lemon juice to prevent oxidation, which causes the brownish color to occur) tossed in cinnamon, served on a platter with raw almonds & walnuts
Mixed Green Salad with dried (no sugar added) cranberries, toasted pecans, red onion, sliced figs & apples; olive oil on the side, along with freshly ground pepper
Pureed Baked Yam Casserole, topped with Sauteed Golden Delicious Apples with a hint of rosemary
Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, or Braised Wild Turkey Breast
Roasted Vegetables in Olive Oil
Cranberry Sauce (see The Paleo Diet Cookbook for my recipe!)
Baked Apples with Cinnamon (Recipe also in the cookbook)
Fresh Seasonal Fruit Salad
Now, here comes the ‘but’….What if you’re not hosting and the person preparing Thanksgiving dinner is going all-out from the garlic-butter mashed potatoes with gravy to the lattice-topped apple pie. You don’t want to be rude but you also don’t want to starve…so what can you do?
• If you know the host or hostess personally, you can call ahead (far in advance, as Thanksgiving meals don’t exactly tend to be prepared on a whim) and explain your food preferences (oh, go ahead and call them allergies; it’s not that far-off!), and ask if they’d mind if you brought along a dish or two to contribute to the feast. This way, you’ll not only be able to rest assured that the food you’ve prepped are Paleo friendly, you’ll take the burden off the host so as not to make her or him feel she’s got to cook you an entirely separate meal.
• If you do not know the person throwing the Thanksgiving Dinner gathering, you’ll need to be a bit more creative. First of all, don’t arrive hungry. (This applies to everyone, actually; as it’s not a good idea to go hungry and over indulge on any food, even if it is Paleo!). Scan the table and choose wisely. Fresh veggies on a platter with dip? Go for the veg and skip the creamy-ranch. Salad? Ask to be served yours before its dressed with the thousand island. You’re not going to go wrong eating the roast turkey and it’s not even all that unlikely that there could be roasted veggies, baked yams and maybe even fresh fruit for dessert. Worse case scenario, pack along a ‘plan B’ snack or two so that if there is absolutely nothing you can eat, you won’t be setting yourself up for a blood sugar rash which could lead you right to a gluten festival of indulgence.
• Most importantly, promise yourself that you’re going to stick to your healthy, Paleo habits. If your mind stays in the right place, your body will follow.