Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Thanksgiving is coming!
Now that we keep strictly paleo, preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is that much more stressful to plan, but I still prefer hosting! If I'm doing the cooking, I know it's safe for me to eat everything, rather than staring at the delicious-looking food at a relative's house and being unable to eat most of it due to a severe soy intolerance, not to mention chasing the kids away from the goodies. All-in-all that is more stress than cooking it all myself.
I am usually preparing dinner for my in-laws, who aren't paleo. They don't seem fond of trying adventurous new foods, which is perfectly fine, but means I have to keep my dishes on the more traditional side, rather than the sometimes crazy experimental dishes I might make otherwise. Here are some of the super easy conversions and tips for keeping your thanksgiving feast paleo, delicious, and healthy.
Turkey cooked breast side down to keep the white meat juicy without having to baste it all day, and without cooking in a plastic bag, the latter of which rather grosses me out.
Gravy is simple enough to make: just replace the corn starch with arrowroot or tapioca starch(and don't let it boil once added).
I make my Thanksgiving stuffing with crushed pork rinds or Simple Mills Crackers.
Cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries, orange juice, and honey if needed (nut easily left out!).
Instead of dumping sugar and marshmallows into sweet potato casserole, I make one with crushed walnuts and cinnamon. (If you just have to have those marshmallows, try my recipe and make them yourself!)
Mashed parsnips and cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, with garlic and ghee.
Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and lemon juice.
Pumpkin pie made with almond flour pie crust and topped with a bit of coconut cream, or even whipped palm-shortening frosting.
Whenever I roast a whole bird of any kind in the oven, I also cook it breast side down (just like they'd be walking!). I've had multiple family members ask how I keep the white meat from drying out - well that's my simple secret! Cooking that way means that instead of the juices filling the bottom of the roasting pan, they drip down, over and through the breast meat, essentially making the bird self-basting.
I never cared for the sugar and marshmallow smothered sweet potato casserole. Even in my SAD days, it was too sweet for even my sweet tooth. It was the only way Kallo or I had ever had sweet potatoes, and we both thought we disliked them for the longest time. That's certainly changed a lot. Kallo will eat anything, even foods he hates, if there is a baked sweet potato on the side! I skip adding all the extra sugar (they are sweet enough!) and instead of the marshmallow, I add some crushed walnuts. The texture contrast and the complimenting flavor of the walnuts really elevate the sweet potato dish above its marshmallow-topped origins.
I'm going to confess a somewhat unpopular opinion: I hate stuffing. Even paleo stuffing is not something I truly enjoy eating. I'm not sure why, but there it is. Maybe it's the texture or the odd combination of flavors that my tongue says don't go.. I do still make it at least a few times per year because Kallo enjoys it, and the Thanksgiving guests expect it. I've tweaked and played with the recipe a lot and used Kallo to taste test and help me adjust it. The recipe I've come up with, I must admit, is at least something I'm willing to eat, unlike the pre-paleo bread-based steaming pile of mush that I wouldn't put anywhere near my mouth. I don't actually stuff the stuffing into the turkey, either, as it makes cook times so much longer and the white meat has more time to dry out. I have it mixed up and waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven. I put some of the hot turkey juices in the pan and toss it into the oven for a half-hour to get toasted and crisp on top, while the cooked bird rests.