In this coming week falls the day we (here in the US at least) give thanks for all of the things that make our lives great – close family, good friends, abundant health, unparalleled freedoms…
It’s also a day we traditionally surround ourselves with those same friends and family and stuff ourselves to discomfort, eating from shortly after sunrise until well after sunset and indulging in a variety of dishes that at one time loosely represented the bounty of harvest at the end of a successful growing season. It’s a time to try new things, or at least things you don’t eat on a regular basis… Perhaps because you don’t really think about cranberry “jelly” the other 364 days of the year, or perhaps because after that first bite of the sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, the fondness you’ve been relishing for the past month or so leading up to the holiday is replaced with the recollection that your taste buds (and your metabolism) really aren’t made to handle that full frontal assault of glucose that just exploded in your mouth.
For us, we’ll be the guests at someone else’s house for the holiday this year, so we we won’t have the opportunity to plan out a full menu of Primal foods to enjoy. Rest assured, we will be bringing a couple Primal dishes to share and give others the chance to see how good healthy food really can be. In the interest of enjoying good food while not fully derailing your own Primal habits, we thought it fitting to offer a little “link love” today to recipes that we might use for a Thanksgiving feast…even if not entirely traditional. We’re putting it up today so you’ve got a little time to plan, shop, prepare, and otherwise get things ready for some new traditions.
Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Turkey Breast – perfect for a smaller group, or if you’re feeling adventurous, go for stuffing the whole bird with the riced cauliflower mix and then wrapping the whole thing with bacon before roasting.
Grilled Chuck Roast – while not entirely traditional for Thanksgiving (although Prime Rib at Christmas is one I’m itching to do), I’m certain you’ll hear no complaints about having this on the menu…unless of course you’ve got a lot of vegetarians in the group!
Mashed Cauliflower – since it just wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without something mashed to put the gravy on top of (which you can still make, just use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour for your thickening agent), give this one a shot. Most guests won’t even know the difference.
Creamy Carrot and Sweet Onion Soup – combine these two harvest vegetables for a refreshing first or second course early in the afternoon. Just make sure to save some room for everything else – it is easy to go back for seconds or thirds on this one.
Nothing quite embodies the fall harvest like winter squash – and so there are several options out there to add these to the meal. If you’ve got either a roast or the bird on the grill already, why not make use of the space on either side to prepare some Grilled Winter Squash. Or, if there is any room in the oven, why not give the Maple Bourbon Heirloom Squash a try.
If you want sweet potatoes, you can shake things up a bit and serve them up as oven-baked chips or fries. The kids will love it, and the herb seasoning blend gives a refreshing change to the typical baked sugar-bomb of the holidays. And if you absolutely can’t live without baked sweet potatoes…skip the brown sugar and marshmallows and stick with a little grass-fed butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg over it all, maybe with some coarsely chopped pecans sprinkled on top too.
Another choice, plentiful in the fall and best harvested after the first frost, is Brussels sprouts. Rather than steamed or boiled into stinky oblivion, try them roasted with olive oil and fresh garlic. Shop for quality, tightly-formed “sprouts” about an inch in diameter and deep green in color, figure about a pound per five to six people, and have a couple cloves of garlic ready per pound as well.
For cranberries (because, honestly, when else do you really eat them anyway?), our friend Peggy has sent us a cranberry salsa recipe that she says is part of her annual Thanksgiving dinner. It looks great, so we’re going to give it a try this weekend, and post it early next week so you can add it to your menu as well.
Isn’t this the part everyone is really waiting for? After the sugar dumpling squash and sweet potatoes, you should be pretty well loaded on carbohydrates…but if you are wanting to tempt fate with a full-on insulin shock for one day of the year, then this is your section.
Our Almond Muffins could easily find their way into the main course. But given their honey sweetness, I think it fitting to let them be a gateway to some of the more serious desserts we’ve found as well.
If you’re in the mood for cakes or bars, then both the Almond Butter Spicy Snack Cake and Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes are winners. Ginger snaps also make a nice treat, and are small enough you can sneak in just one or two without feeling too stuffed.
And, of course, we can’t have Thanksgiving without the standby – Pumpkin Pie. Even if you didn’t like it as a kid (or maybe still aren’t super excited about it as an adult), you can’t deny that it just doesn’t seem to be the holidays without pumpkin pie somewhere on the dessert table. And every family has someone who’ll gladly take home any that is left at the end of the day.