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The 10 Best Paleo Holiday Recipes

by
author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer with more than 10 years of experience as a nutritionist. Her work is featured in the Huffington Post, DAME Magazine, The Good Men Project and more. She specializes in eating disorders and loves connecting with readers and writers via her blog and social media.

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The 10 Best Paleo Holiday Recipes
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Holiday feasts can be daunting for people who are following a Paleo eating plan. But they don’t have to be. Whether you or one of your guests is Paleo, we’ll show you in the following slides how to make everything -- from stuffing to pumpkin pie -- Paleo and free of grains and overly processed foods.

1. Pork-and-Veggie Stuffing
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1 PORK-AND-VEGGIE STUFFING

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. Many other historic stuffing recipes were grain-free -- made instead with only meat and spices. To prepare a Paleo version of today’s traditional stuffing, use celery and stuffing spices, such as thyme, sage, savory, salt and pepper. Instead of breadcrumbs, the Food Lovers Kitchen suggests sauteing these ingredients with ground pork, chopped bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms and using coconut oil as a base. CALORIES: 215

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

2. Garlic Mashed No-tatoes
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2 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. Whether you avoid the starchy vegetables or simply desire a lower-calorie alternative to conventional mashed potatoes, Ginger Calem, certified CrossFit trainer and CrossFit gym owner in Georgetown, Texas, recommends adding garlicky mashed cauliflower to your holiday table. “I actually make this frequently in our home, and my family loves it,” she says. To prepare the dish, Calem suggests breaking a head of cauliflower into florets and then boiling or steaming until tender. Drain the cooked cauliflower, then mash it with a hand-mixer or in a food processor with desired additions, such as organic butter from grass-fed cows (or a dairy-free alternative), roasted garlic, ground pepper and sea salt. CALORIES: 83

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

3. Avocado Honey Cups
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3 AVOCADO HONEY CUPS

Avocados are loaded with fiber, healthy fat and essential micronutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin E. For a scrumptious, paleolithic-style dessert, Ginger Calem, CPT, recommends slicing a ripe avocado in half and removing the pit, without peeling it. Then drizzle both halves with locally cultivated honey, and 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. "They're absolutely delicious!" said Calem. Avocado cups could also serve as a filling holiday appetizer or side dish. For a colorful variation, fill avocado halves with fresh or stewed cranberries and a sprinkling of roasted nuts. CALORIES: 182

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

4. Roasted Beets
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4 ROASTED BEETS

Beets are loaded with folate, potassium and manganese, and they also contain a specific antioxidant called betanin. “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: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

5. Winter Squash
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5 WINTER SQUASH

For a healthy starch option, Becci Twombley, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist in Los Angeles, recommends roasted winter squash (also known as spaghetti squash). “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: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

6. Crustless Pecan Pie
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6 CRUSTLESS PECAN PIE

For a decadent Thanksgiving dessert that stays within Paleo territory, make a pecan pie sans 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: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

7. Gravy
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7 GRAVY

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 (instead of cream), a nondairy spread (instead of butter) and arrowroot or blanched almond flour as thickeners. Other Paleo-friendly gravy ingredients include pure tomato paste (which can 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 for savory flavor. CALORIES: 83

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

8. Cranberry Sauce
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8 CRANBERRY SAUCE

Studies suggest that cranberries may help protect your teeth from harmful bacteria, which could stave off heart disease, because oral health and cardiovascular health are linked. Cranberries also provide ample antioxidant proanthocyanidins -- natural substances that help keep your cells healthy. 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: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

9. Pumpkin Pie
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9 PUMPKIN PIE

If your sweet tooth adores traditional Thanksgiving desserts, Ginger Calem, CPT, recommends making Paleo-friendly equivalents. “A quick Google of Paleo Pumpkin Pie should have your mouth watering,” she says. 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. Then you just add filling and pop it in your oven. CALORIES: 458

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

10. Turkey
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10 TURKEY

If your holidays wouldn’t be the same without turkey, you’re in luck. The holiday’s most 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?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are you following the Paleo diet, or do you have Paleo friends and family coming to your holiday dinners this year? No matter which dishes you decide to enjoy this Thanksgiving, keep in mind that occasional indulgences fit within an overall healthy lifestyle as long as you do so moderately and on an infrequent basis. For more benefits, take time to savor your food and stay active throughout the holiday season. It’s what you do most often (versus one day per year) that matters most wellness-wise. 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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