Strip Down Your Thanksgiving Dinner

I love Thanksgiving. I love having family over, people laughing, kids playing, and of course the yummy food. Believe it or not Thanksgiving dinner can be healthy as well as delicious. There are a few adjustments you may need to make but you will not feel like you are lacking this Holiday. Follow these tips to strip the unhealthy sides and desserts with ones that you will not feel the GI repercussions with later.

The easiest way to have a healthy Thanksgiving is to cook it yourself! That way you have control over what is served and can help yourself to everything. If you find yourself at a guest’s house there is still plenty of choices that won’t cause you harm. The turkey is usually the main dish so right there you are off to a good start. Load up on that but you may want to skip the gravy since that most likely has flour in it to thicken it up. Vegetables are usually held in high regard on this holiday so make sure to take advantage of those! We always serve broccoli, green beans, and sweet potatoes. I usually allow myself some mash potatoes regardless of who made them on this day too. I do not seem to be very sensitive to dairy so you should make that call on your own. I always avoid the stuffing and pies but I have some great recipes I will be sharing so that you do not feel like you are missing out. These make great options to bring to your host’s house so that you have something you can enjoy and are also contributing to the Holiday Feast.

These are my favorite substitutions for making Thanksgiving healthy:

  • Appetizers are pretty easy. You have the old stand by veggie platter that is always safe to go for but there are many awesome appetizers that you can make that don’t include sugar and grains! Check this tasty one out if you are a shrimp lover and this fried zucchini recipe is always a hit!
  • We get an amazing turkey from our farm share each year. Farm shares are awesome and I highly recommend them! We will be baking our turkey this year. We tried deep frying it a few years back in lard from the farm but the process was pretty lengthy to melt the lard down. Its took days, I might not do that ever again. We like to inject the turkey while it is baking with grass fed butter and seasonings. Last year we added some cinnamon essential oil to the butter mix and it came out delicious! I don’t like to miss out on the gravy so I make it without flour with this recipe.
Paleo Turkey Gravy
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Ingredients
  1. Drippings from cooking our Oven-Roasted Turkey
  2. Reserve 2 Tbsp Drippings from cooking Turkey
  3. 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder
  4. Optional: one sprig Rosemary and one sprig of Thyme (or a drop of these essential oils- but only 1 drop!)
Instructions
  1. Collect the drippings from the bottom of the pan from where you cooked your turkey and put it in a saucepan. If you like to have one constant consistency, blend it up in a Bullet first.
  2. Heat the drippings over medium-high (~7) heat.
  3. Mix together the arrowroot and reserved turkey drippings and stir until incorporated.
  4. Slowly add this slurry to the drippings while stirring over the heat. You can add a little at a time until the desired texture is achieved. (The arrowroot will not change the flavor, but will thicken the drippings into gravy. If you don’t mind thin gravy, you don’t need to add this at all).
  5. If you like a little more spiced gravy, add the bundles of spices or oils, turn the oven burner down to medium (~5) heat, and let cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes – then strain the sprigs and serve!
Notes
  1. See more at: http://www.paleoeffect.com/recipes/paleo-homemade-turkey-gravy-a-thanksgiving-gravy/
Adapted from Paleo Effect
Adapted from Paleo Effect
The Naked Pharmacists http://www.thenakedpharmacists.com/
  •  I used to love stuffing and I still feel the need to partake in this holiday treasure so we have been substituting with this amazing recipe. It is a little labor intensive but so worth it. We always have mashed sweet potatoes with melted ghee and a drop of cinnamon essential oil, a cauliflower mash, and usually will have mash potatoes without the milk for those who want it.
  • I am a fan of dessert and I don’t like to skip that so I always have these delicious grain free recipes for options. This key lime bar recipe is always a hit and this is my apple pie replacement. My favorite pie of all time has always been pumpkin pie and for some reason since I was young I have always spooned it out and threw away the crust. Now I just don’t even bother with the crust and use this recipe (but skip the crust portion).
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
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Crust
  1. 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  2. 1 cup pecans
  3. 4 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
  4. Pinch of sea salt
Filling
  1. 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened organic pure pumpkin puree
  2. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  3. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  4. 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1/2 cup raw organic honey
  7. 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Place the hazelnuts and pecans in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground
  3. Pour the ground nuts into a small mixing bowl, add the melted butter or ghee and salt, and mix into a thick dough
  4. Using your hands, spread the dough evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.
  5. While the crust is in the oven, mix all of the pie filling ingredients with a hand-held mixer.
  6. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the filling into the crust, return the pie to the oven, and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
Notes
  1. See more at: http://everydaypaleo.com/thanksgiving-menu-2013/
Adapted from Everyday Paleo
Adapted from Everyday Paleo
The Naked Pharmacists http://www.thenakedpharmacists.com/
 As you can see there are numerous ways to have a happy, healthy, and delicious Thanksgiving without wrecking havoc on your body! Enjoy, I know I will! How are you staying healthy during the holidays?

~Emily~

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