The 10 Best Paleo Holiday Recipes
Last Updated: Nov 07, 2016
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Think you can't indulge in any holiday feasts because you're following a strict Paleo diet? Think again! Each of these recipes are Paleo and free of grains and overly processed foods. From pork and vegetable stuffing to crustless pecan pie, there's a festive recipe no matter if you're celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas or the New Year. And each of these dishes are so delicious, you can even enjoy them year-round.
Our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat anything close to traditional stuffing, and it’s actually unknown whether or not the American Pilgrims did. Because wild game and rice were so abundant in colonial America, it’s more likely that the original Thanksgiving feast served up some variety of bird complemented by corn, porridge and venison. To prepare a Paleo version of today’s traditional stuffing, use celery and stuffing spices, such as thyme, sage, savory, salt and pepper. And instead of breadcrumbs, the Food Lovers Kitchen suggests sauteing these ingredients with ground pork, chopped bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms. Simply use coconut oil as a base. CALORIES: 215
Related: Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe
GARLIC MASHED NO-TATOES
White potatoes -- while nutritious and natural -- aren’t allowed by all Paleo eating plans due to their potentially significant impact on blood sugar levels. Instead of the conventional mashed potatoes, Ginger Calem, certified CrossFit trainer and CrossFit gym owner in Georgetown, Texas, recommends adding garlicky mashed cauliflower to your holiday table. To prepare it, break a head of cauliflower into florets and then boiling or steaming until tender. Drain the cooked cauliflower, then mash it up. Toss in tasty additions, such as organic butter from grass-fed cows (or a dairy-free alternative), roasted garlic, ground pepper and sea salt. CALORIES: 83
Related: Garlic Mashed Cauliflower and Chives Recipe
AVOCADO HONEY CUPS
Avocados are loaded with fiber, healthy fat and essential micronutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin E. For a scrumptious dessert, Ginger Calem, CPT, recommends slicing a ripe avocado in half and removing the pit. Then drizzle both halves with locally cultivated honey, a dusting of sunflower seeds and cinnamon. If you don't have honey on hand, use organic agave nectar or pure maple syrup. The peel serves dual purpose as a dish; simply spoon the insides out and enjoy. CALORIES: 182
Related: Avocado Honey Cups Recipe
Beets are loaded with folate, potassium and manganese, and they also contain a specific antioxidant called betanin, which can provide detoxification support. “One of my family’s favorite vegetable dishes is roasted beets,” says Ginger Calem, CPT. “The deep, dark-purple color makes for a gorgeous dish,” she says. They’re inherently Paleo, so no modifications are needed here. Just be cautious about what you use to give them flavor. CALORIES: 120
Related: Roasted Beets Recipe
ROASTED WINTER SQUASH
For a healthy starch option, Becci Twombley, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist in Los Angeles, recommends roasted spaghetti quash. “This winter squash is delicious, easy to make and a great choice for anyone who is living the Paleolithic life,” she says. Like other squashes, it’s loaded with vitamins A and C, which help keep your immune system strong, along with potassium, which Twombley says is a great way to beat the holiday bloat. CALORIES: 182
Related: Paleo Roasted Spaghetti Squash Recipe
CRUSTLESS PECAN PIE
For a decadent Thanksgiving dessert that stays within Paleo territory, make a pecan pie sans the crust. While crustless pecan pie still contains plenty of calories, it also supplies valuable amounts of fiber, healthy fat, protein and antioxidants -- not to mention tantalizing flavor. Carrie Vitt, a Paleo recipe blogger and author of the “Deliciously Organic” cookbook, recommends a filling made with pure maple syrup, maple sugar or sucanat (a natural sugar); butter; pure vanilla extract; sea salt; and pecans. If you avoid dairy, use a dairy-free butter alternative, such as coconut oil. CALORIES: 303
Related: Paleo-Friendly Pecan Pie Recipe
Rich in processed grains (in the form of flour or cornstarch) and dairy products, traditional gravy may sound like the antithesis of a Paleo food. However, simply swapping some ingredients can allow you to create Paleo-friendly gravy. Brittany Angell, a food blogger and author of “The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide,” recommends making gravy with coconut milk, a nondairy spread and arrowroot or blanched almond flour as thickeners. Other Paleo-friendly gravy ingredients include pure tomato paste to serve as a flavorful thickener; free-range chicken or vegetable broth paired with coconut oil (instead of drippings and butter); and fresh, chopped garlic and herbs. CALORIES: 83
Related: World's Best Paleo Gravy Recipe
Cranberries provide ample antioxidant proanthocyanidins -- natural substances that help keep your cells healthy. But while cranberries that appear in one solid, canned piece or in sugar-laden sauces aren’t Paleo-appropriate, homemade cranberry sauce is Paleo-friendly. Try making cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, pure orange juice, raw honey and a touch of fresh ginger, orange zest, cinnamon and light agave nectar. CALORIES: 87
Related: Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe
If your sweet tooth adores traditional Thanksgiving desserts, Ginger Calem, CPT, recommends making Paleo-friendly equivalents. Most renditions are made with pure pumpkin puree, traditional spices -- allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger -- salt, eggs and natural sweeteners, such as raw honey. For a grain-free crust, Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., of The Paleo Mom website, suggests blending raw walnut halves with blanched almond flour, an egg white and a pinch of salt, then pressing the mixture into a pie pan. Simply add the filling and pop it in your oven. CALORIES: 458
Related: The Best Paleo Pumpkin Pie Recipe
If your holidays wouldn’t be the same without turkey, you’re in luck. This popular dish is naturally Paleo-friendly and nutritious. “Turkey is a great lean protein source as long as you select your pieces wisely,” says Carina Sohaili, a certified nutritionist and founder of Vibrant Healthy Life in Los Angeles. She suggests choosing white-meat turkey, which is lowest in saturated fat. She also recommends bypassing the fatty skin. For rich flavor without excessive fat or calories, season your turkey with fresh garlic and herbs, or marinate it in fresh-squeezed fruit juice. “Garlic is great for cardiovascular health,” says Sohaili. To avoid artificial additives, choose free-range, organic turkey.
Related: 9 Holiday Cocktails Under 200 Calories
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Which Paleo dishes do you plan to make during the holidays? Did we miss your favorite Paleo holiday dish? Share your recipes by leaving a comment below.
Related: 10 New Healthy Holiday Side Dishes
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