Welcome to how to have a Paleo thanksgiving.
I love thanksgiving. We are talking about all that delicious food, all the great company and then the chance to pass out on the sofa to some great TV after eating way too much. But I also say this as a Non-American (I do have American family) and don’t eat nowhere near as much as those that live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But I still give them a great run for their money!
But even though I don’t live in America I love the tradition of Thanksgiving. We will have a long weekend off work and enjoy some family time as well as the great food. Dominic and I will spend the day in the kitchen cooking up a feast, while Kyle is at school. Then we will have Friday and the weekend off and it makes a nice family celebration for us.
Though I think Kyle loves it best as he absolutely loves roast turkey and the fact that he comes home from school to a full roast dinner certainly fills him with joy. Plus our daughter’s birthday is the 25th November and falls on the same week as Thanksgiving. This week it is the day after so I expect a buffet made up of Thanksgiving leftovers.
But the first thing I think about when it comes to Thanksgiving is how unhealthy it is. There are Dominic’s amazing roast potatoes that are as bad for you as you could possibly get and I dread to think how many calories are in them. There are also puddings, sugary side dishes and I could go on and on.
So for something different we decided to see just how healthy you could go at Thanksgiving. If it was possible to have a Thanksgiving that was 100% Paleo and exactly what you could eat to make this happen.
The Healthy Thanksgiving = Endless Opportunities
The funny thing is when I think of Paleo I always think that the biggest perk of it all has to be the roasted meat and vegetables. You can have the crispy skin from the meat as long as it is cooked in a healthier way, you can have as many vegetables as you like, plus if you pick the sides correctly you can not go wrong.
The thought of a healthy Thanksgiving can be rather appealing but how do you make it actually happen? In principle you say that you are going to be healthy but how can you make sure that it is? Well these are my top tips for being healthy at Thanksgiving:
- Bring a different dessert – if you are not hosting the Thanksgiving then you have no control over dessert. You will then cave in when your sweet tooth takes over. But if you take your own dessert with you then you are all sorted. Some people will want to try it and some wont and the host will not mind you doing so.
- Swap potatoes for vegetables – Traditionally when I cook a roast dinner we will have roast potatoes and mash plus we will also have some steamed vegetables in a cheese sauce. Instead of doing it like this roast vegetables instead, have vegetable mash and still have your steamed vegetables. That way you are going from 1 portion of vegetables to 3 and you will feel so much healthier.
- Make your own gravy – the gravy that you often make at Thanksgiving (or Christmas) is often heavily processed so swap it for a delicious homemade one using the juices from the turkey and thickened up with avocado.
- Make pumpkin pie with an alternative flour – I like to make my pastry with banana flour for a healthier version and it is also gluten free and it can stop you from having that bloated feeling.
- Replace everything sweet with honey – honey can make a fantastic alternative to white or brown sugar. It is good for you and it makes things just as sweet.
- Make a homemade cauliflower sauce – you can make a cauliflower sauce instead of a traditional white sauce. It is just as delicious and then just add your seasoning.
- Cook your turkey with coconut oil – Instead of using vegetable oil go for the ultimate health kick and use coconut oil instead for the roasting of your turkey.
- Go that extra mile – Often when you are making various dishes they can seem rather boring. So think outside the box for something different that will make you forget that your Thanksgiving is a healthy one. Make a delicious pumpkin soup for starter with gluten free vegetable bread for example.
- Have Smoothies – Normally you would have lots of booze and instead of this make alcohol free versions of Pina Colada with coconut milk, honey and pineapple. They are delicious and your guests will love them.
- Leftovers Galore – Use your leftovers to make delicious muffins that you can all enjoy for the long weekend. Alternatively use it to make the best ever bubble and squeak for breakfast the next day.
What Can You Cook For Thanksgiving?
If I was going to design the dream menu for Thanksgiving that was also 100% Paleo then what would I suggest?
Well after careful consideration this is my dream menu. This is from starter, to turkey to sides to a delicious dessert. With this perfect Paleo Thanksgiving menu then there is no reason why you would possibly want to eat anything else but these. Even better, you could host a Paleo Thanksgiving for your family and I am sure they will be delighted so much by the food that they will not even realise that you have taken them down the healthy route.
Start off your Thanksgiving feast with some delicious homemade parsnip soup. It gives you a fantastic autumn flavour and everyone and anyone loves parsnips. Plus if you are worried about overeating start your meal with soup, as tradition has shown that if you start a meal with a bowl of soup then you are likely to eat a lot less over the course of your meal.
The Main Course
Let’s face it the turkey has to take centre stage in your Thanksgiving feast. Well Dominic makes the most amazing Turkey that I have ever tried. Quite often we associate turkey with being dry and needing lots of gravy for it to taste half decent. But in this how to Podcast he will teach you how to get your turkey spot on.
You will never want to cook turkey the old way ever again!
For your white sauce I would suggest my take on the classic. I use cauliflower instead of traditional flour and butter. It tastes delicious and so creamy. You could then add your desired seasonings to it so that you get the sauce of your choice. For Thanksgiving I like to blend some spare brown turkey meat so that it has a delicious meaty flavour to go with the vegetables.
I don’t know about you but Thanksgiving is just not the same without mash. But on Paleo you are banned from having traditional mash. The plan B of course is to have sweet potato mash instead, but I find that with sweet potatoes they cost a premium and a mass amount of sweet potatoes generate a very small amount of mash.
So my plan B is to have vegetable mash instead. Then you can use a range of different priced vegetables. I also make it in the slow cooker that way the vegetables keep their delicious flavour.
This is another of our favourite slow cooker recipes. It is all about simplicity and delicious tasting vegetables. You simply cook them in the slow cooker with some coconut oil and a handful of seasonings. Then when they are cooked top them with our white sauce that we mentioned above and you have a vegetable bake to go with your roast turkey.
In this recipe it gives you a fantastic healthy way to enjoy your green beans. Never mind just having one vegetable dish this Thanksgiving follow my lead and have three and then enjoy being healthy rather than just eating a load of rubbish.
This is a traditional side at Christmas in England for a number of years. It may not be traditional for Thanksgiving but it makes an excellent side dish. It is when you wrap bacon around mini sausages and they are so delicious. I recommend that you find some lean sausages that are not full of rubbish such as German turkey sausages and use those.
I don’t know about you but Thanksgiving it just not the same without lots of stuffing. I would say it was my favourite thing on the menu after the turkey breast and the vegetables in a delicious sauce. Dominic has never been that bothered for it so it would be between Kyle and I to fight it out for last spoonful.How To Have A Paleo Thanksgiving via recipe_thisClick To Tweet
In this recipe from Well Plated it is a little different with mushrooms and bacon but gives a fantastic alternative flavouring.
There is something that should never be forgotten and that is the delicious homemade gravy. We love this version from Nom Nom Paleo and it is full of flavour yet good for you at the same time.
Or this version from Cook Eat Paleo is also delicious and full of flavour. I also love how easy this version is to make as I know many people are put off by the effort that goes into making gravy and would rather just grab the gravy granules.
Other great sides that you could have:
Now this is something that I would never think of doing personally, but is a great idea to make use of all those ingredients that you have in for Thanksgiving. I always end up with lots of spare cranberries and I would eat pumpkin all year round if I could!
I love this recipe from Cook Eat Paleo. The only change I would make is use banana flour instead of almond flour as it would need to be nut free because of my son’s nut allergy. But if you love pumpkin pie this is a great example of how you can have your pie and still remain Paleo.
This delicious chocolate ice cream is the perfect pairing for your pumpkin pie and is really simple to make and people will not even realise that it is a healthy Paleo ice cream. Alternatively try our banana ice cream or our pineapple ice cream.
Or for a Plan B, what about a Sweet Potato Pie instead? This version from the Paleo Cupboard is truly delicious and well worth the effort to make.