Paleo Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Though I like to think I am thankful every day for all the blessings in my life, ( and believe me there is plenty to be thankful for!) this year I am especially thankful for :

– 2 days off work ( can we say staycation?)

– healthy, abundant and delicious food on the table ( check out my recipes below!)

– living in the same city as my sister & bro in law for the first time to enjoy the holiday with them! Seeing them weekly is such a treat, even if it’s just hanging out in one of our apartments.

Aren’t they the cutest?

So let’s get right down to the recipes! My bro-in Law is quite the chef so he’s got the entrees covered : braised beef and turkey roulade. I can’t wait and would love to post those recipes if he ever shares them. I’m a big believer in Thanksgiving not being a time for a complete pig-out on heavy & un-healthy food. Yes, feel free to indulge a little. But a big part of thanksgiving is reuniting with family & friends you don’t get to see often, so what’s the point of wasting that special time feeling full, uncomfortable & sluggish? The point of the holiday is to be with loved ones, not an excuse to eat so much you need to take a nap.

Paleo Thanksgiving is easier than it looks!

Anyways, my responsibility for the meal are the sides and desserts so here is what is on my menu:

Sweet Potato Slices & Fall Salsa ( adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com)

What is thanksgiving without Sweet potatoes?

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes, unpeeled and and cut into large circles
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pecans
  • 1 tiny shallot – feel free to replace for a quarter of an onion if you can digest them
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 tbsp parsley, washed and diced
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened, unsulphured dried cherries ( i love trader joes’ cherries!)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • splash of raspberry vinaigrette
  • 1/2 tsp of honey Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground Salt & black pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

On the side ( for those who eat & enjoy cheese):

– 2 ounces goat cheese or feta, not too soft that can crumble easily

Directions :

Grease a large baking sheet generously with olive oil and place sweet potato coins in one layer, sprinkling with salt & pepper. Bake at 450 for around 15-20 min or until the bottoms become a little blistery or spotted ( they almost look like cheetah spots). Flip slices over, and bake again for another 10 min. They should release from the pan easily!

While they’re baking : chop the pecans ( food processors are your friends), celery, parsley, and mince cherries depending how big they are and add to a mixing bowl. If using a very soft goat cheese, leave that until the end. If using a harder feta, crumble into tiny cubes and add to mixture. In a separate smaller bowl mix oil, vinegars and mustard together and then pour half of it over “fall salad” mixture. Once potatoes are done cooking ( both sides should be cheetah spotted and lightly salted), lay them out on a serving platter and gently scoop salad mixture on to each sweet potato coin. If using soft goat cheese, now is the time to add to the mixture. When all the salsa is scooped, drizzle remaining dressing over all of it. Enjoy while warm!!

Fall Salsa!

I love making extra “fall salsa” to enjoy on the side with a spoon!

Butternut Squash, Bacon & Chard (a la everydaypaleo )

20111123-144412.jpgIngredients :

  • 1 large Butternut Squash, baked, peeled and cubed.
  • 2 heads or Rainbow chard, stems removed, washed & chopped
  • 4-6 slices of bacon ( if bacon is not already used in your brussel sprouts!)
  • Coconut oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

To bake squash: cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds & insides, and place in glass baking dish flat side down in a few tbsp of water. Bake for 1 hour at around 350 degrees. Remove once skin is easily puncture with a fork and insides are mushy & Soft, but NOT fully cooked. If you’re like me and cannot cut open the raw squash for the life of you, bake it for around 12 minutes in the oven, remove, and then using an oven mitt, a sharp knife and a fork, cut squash in half. I reiterate oven mitt. I have a sweet scar on my wrist for this mistake.

While squash is baking, cook chopped strips of bacon in a sauce pan over medium heat with a little olive oil until lightly cooked through ( but not well done). Remove from pan, and set on paper towel and blot. Once cooled a little, chop bacon into bite sized pieces. I like to empty about half the bacon grease into a container and keep the other half to cook the rest of the dish!

Once squash is baked, but not FULLY cooked, add cubed squash to the bacon grease pan ( yum!) . After around 2 min, and squash is starting to soften, add chopped chard and season with garlic powder and salt & pepper. Chances are you will need to add coconut oil at this point to make everything moist and to add flavor. Sautee together for another 2 or so minutes over medium heat. Then, once chard is nice and wilted and squash is very soft, add the bacon pieces and stir around. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over all the mixture, stirring often. If you like it tangy, be generous with the vinegar but I don’t recommend it.

Remove from heat promptly and add salt & pepper. Eat & enjoy!

20111123-144633.jpg

Green Beans & Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh, de-stemmed and washed organic green beans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, raw almond slivers
  • Generous olive oil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt & Peppper

Directions :

De-stem greenbeans and wash well. Add beans to a big pot of already boiling water and cover. Boil beans for around 5 minutes until semi soft ( but not fully cooked). Drain and set aside to cool. Heat up a large skillet on medium heat and add a generous tbsp or 2 of olive oil. Add boiled greenbeans and generous amounts of italian seasoning and stir well. After a minute, add slivered almonds and salt and pepper and continue to stir. Once beans are fully cooked ( around 3-5 minutes) remove from heat. Green beans become mushy very quickly when over-cooked so watch carefully!

Coconut- Almond Butter Cookies ( Makes around 15 large cookies)

20111123-004100.jpg

  • 2 bananas mashed
  • 1 apple finely chopped (unsweetened apple sauce will work but takes away from the texture)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup chunky almond flour ( love texture!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cinammon
  • 1/2-1 cup unsulphured, unbleached coconut flakes

Directions :

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, smash the bananas and apple. Add to a mixing bowl with coconut flour and baking soda and mix well. Microwave almond butter jar for 15-25 seconds to get it melty to make it easier to scoop. Chop almost all the walnuts in the food processor and add to baking mixture along with melty almond butter scoop. Then add 1/2 cup coconut flakes, coconut milk & cinammon and mix REALLY well. Finally, add remaining halved walnuts for texture.

Cover two cookie sheets with foil and spray with coconut oil spray. Spoon heaping tbsps of cookie mix on the trays about 1 inch apart ( space on cookie sheet permitting). Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of coconut flakes on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until fork comes out smooth. They crumble easily so it is better to err a little on the side of over-cooked.

For a thanksgiving batch, add 1/2- 3/4 cup 65% dark fair trade organic chocolate chips to the mix. Or if you want to make these more festive, add 1 can of unsweetened pumpkin to the mixture replacing one of the bananas, and add 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, a generous sprinkle cinnamon and drop or 2 vanilla extract.

I am also attempting a pumpkin pie. Recipe to come, if it turns out okay. The plan is to use hazelnut/ walnut flour mix for the crust and use eggs, coconut milk & pumpkin for the filling.

TIme to get my hands dirty…

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