5 Paleo Meal Courses to Boost Your Health (and Your Holiday Cheer)
Do you love the Thanksgiving holiday but dread the bloating and indigestion that come with eating a lot of unhealthy food? Do you have diet restrictions that prevent you from indulging in your household’s annual feast? This year, instead of whipping up the traditional dishes that leave you feeling sluggish, try some of my delicious, diet-sensitive Paleo meals for Thanksgiving that provide the nutrients and energy you need to enjoy the holiday season. These meals can also help you eat your way out of a mid-life crisis (link to Eat Your Way Out of a Mid-Life Crisis article) if you have been struggling with more than just the holiday blues.
Appetizer: Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus makes a great appetizer to tide your guests over until the main course is ready, and pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber--to name a few nutrients. The following recipe uses a pumpkin base instead of chickpeas to pack important nutrients into your Thanksgiving meal. It’s important when you are sourcing the pumpkin to read the ingredients to make sure it is pure pumpkin without additives.
Side Dish: Butternut Squash and Sausage Hash
Our Paleolithic ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. At the core of their lifestyle was an understanding that the best game was always on the move and that each season had its own bounty of fruits and vegetables.
The prime ingredients of this recipe are butternut squash, apples, and pork sausage. Butternut squash offers many vital nutrients that benefit your hair, skin, blood pressure, and digestion. The starch and complex carbs of butternut squash are a great way to fortify you against cold fall mornings. Apples are rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, and are excellent for your cardiovascular health. Pork sausage is high in protein and healthy fat, and contains Niacin RDA, which is beneficial to your eyes, skin, and hair. All of these ingredients are at their peak from September through January.
The best place to source the sausage is through a full-service butcher. Full-service butcher shops often have a large amount of trim meat that comes from processing their own meat. This often includes cuts like Boston butt and picnic shoulder. You will usually find them in the display case in a natural casing. Since they are made in house with the intent to sell them quickly, you can usually find them at a great price per pound. As an added bonus, they usually don’t have additives like tert-Butylhydroquinone and nitric acid that you often find in store-bought sausage.
A crisp apple such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Red Delicious will hold up to the heat better than a soft and juicy apple. If you are looking to take a wetter approach to this dish, I would recommend a McIntosh.
Side Dish: Braised Red Cabbage
In addition to its hearty and robust flavor, red cabbage provides cardiovascular protection thanks to its anthocyanins. Braising cabbage brings out its natural sweetness and unlocks certain chemical compounds known to help prevent cancer. This recipe makes a great side dish for beef and lamb, but it plays really well with pork dishes. I love to serve this alongside grilled pork chops. If you’re in the mood for a completely vegetarian meal, you could serve this as a stand-alone entrée.
Side Dish: Mashed Rutabaga
Mashed potatoes with rich butter are a classic American comfort food that has a limited place in the philosophy of the Paleo diet. This recipe for mashed rutabaga is a nice replacement, as rutabaga include a diverse range of nutrients that, among their benefits, strengthen your bones and combat stress. For this recipe, you will be using chicken schmaltz* to replace the butter. Main Dish: Good Ol’ Turkey
Turkey is a lean meat and, therefore, an excellent diet choice. However, many of the traditional methods to cook turkey include high amounts of fat and unhealthy oils that overshadow its nutritional benefits. In order to enjoy all the health benefits of eating turkey, I recommend that you forgo the deep fryer and full stick of butter in favor of healthy ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.
The healthiest way to cook turkey is to roast it in the oven or smoke it. Both methods preserve the quality of the meat while enhancing its flavor with any herbs or spices you choose to add. Try these simple recipes to roast your turkey or smoke your turkey this year.
The holidays bring many temptations to entice you away from your Paleo diet, but they are also a great opportunity to learn how to eat Paleo every day. Please feel free to contact my office at 303.503.5969 to learn more about what is the Paleo diet and how to eat Paleo at Thanksgiving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I would love to help you develop customized techniques to maintain a healthy diet through the new year. Happy Holidays from Sage Nutrition and Healing Center!