Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our Paleo Thanksgiving

As most of you know, my husband and I have been following a Paleo diet lifestyle the past two months in an effort to improve our health. I have lost weight without exercise, I have more energy, not to mention my depression and eczema have completely disappeared. I will never touch gluten again. So we were presented with somewhat of a challenge for our first Thanksgiving here in Alaska. First of all, I have never cooked for Thanksgiving. Ever. I usually just show up at my mom's house, eat all of her yummy food, and go home happy. This year, I not only had to do all of the cooking, but I also had to find a way to do it without gluten, dairy, or sugar. I was so nervous about trying to recreate traditional sugary and gluten laden Thanksgiving foods, that I put off even thinking about it until Wednesday night. Luckily, the few recipes I found online turned out amazing! Our guests could not even tell the difference. Best of all, I didn't fall into a carb coma afterwards. Here's our line-up, with links to the recipes included:

Rosemary Apple Turkey

I usually use this recipe on a whole roasted chicken because it is so dang simple, but it turned out lovely on turkey as well. Simply place sprigs of rosemary under your bird, freshly chopped apples around it, and pour olive oil, sea salt, and balsamic vinegar over all. This was moist and flavorful.

Cranberry Sauce

I have never actually made cranberry sauce before, but wanted something more festive (and healthier) than slabs from a can. This recipe was super easy and very tart, if that's your thing. The grapefruit juice and lemon zest pack a powerful punch. 

Palo Herbed Fococcia Bread

Most holiday meals are served with some sort of bread. I thought of just picking up some dinner rolls for our non-Paleo guests, but being the food snob that I am, I wanted to show them just how delicious homemade gluten free bread can be. This recipe is light, airy, and easy to make. We infused it with two tablespoons of fresh rosemary and thyme, so the herbs were quite pungent. This complemented the rest of our sides well, since most use rosemary.

Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato casserole has to be one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving, next to pumpkin pie. Rather than using brown sugar or marshmallows, this recipe uses maple syrup to keep it sweet. The freshly juiced orange adds a very faint citrus aftertaste, making an interesting twist on the traditional sugary laden casserole. Very few ingredients, and super easy to make!

Paleo Green Bean Casserole

Growing up, my mother's green bean casserole was smothered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with French's fried onions. Unfortunately for me, those things are chock full of gluten. I still wanted a traditional casserole, so I scoured the internet for quite some time looking for anything that came close. I have to say, this recipe was surprisingly similar! Using real onions, mushrooms, and a non-dairy cream was time consuming, but worth it. The onions are so flavorful and rich, and we still got that "crunch" we were looking for. The addition of bacon and shallots gave a great flavor. Warning, this is a ton of work! But hey, it's a holiday, so I don't mind working hard for a day.

Thanksgiving Caramelized Onion & Sausage Stuffing

I can eat stuffing anytime of the year. There is something that is so comforting about warm bread in the fall. There are plenty of almond bread based Paleo stuffings out there, but let's get real. I do not have that kind if time on my hands. This recipe was easy enough, plus I love caramelized onions and sausage together. I frequently add eggs to them and bake for breakfast treats. So, this stuffing caught my eye. The addition of fresh rosemary, pecans, and sweet potatoes make this unique. 

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Bars

It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie! I am obsessed with pumpkin in the fall, and I purposely eat smaller portions during Thanksgiving dinner so I can stuff my face with pumpkin pie after. The filling in this recipe uses medjool dates instead of toxic table sugar for sweetness. We went to three stores looking for medjool dates. Yes, three. They are pricey, but worth it. These are much sweeter than golden or California dates, and they have a nice caramel aftertaste. I was a little creeped out when pitting these. Medjool dates have a strikingly similar appearance to a certain bug that once crowded our first apartment. I think roaches are spawned from Satan himself and couldn't wait to puree these bad boys and get them back in the fridge! I don't have a food processor, so soaking these in water can help if pureeing in a blender. I made some fresh coconut whipped cream for topping. Delicious! 

We managed to make all this with a toddler and a baby underfoot, so trust me when I say these are doable. There you have it, a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free Thanksgiving. You're welcomed. 

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