It’s Almost Time

It’s Almost Time

We are closing in on Thanksgiving in and everyone knows what that means… food! And I do mean FOOD– glorious, wonderful, delicious food! The very best kind, too… celebratory, Thanksgiving-y, delectably aromatically intoxicating. I know; way too many adverbs and such, but I get positively giddy and worked up when it comes to Thanksgiving. This is simply my favorite holiday!

But it can be a huge bomb if it is inadequately planned for. We’re talking about menu planning all this month and if any meal demands menu planning, it’s this holiday!

In my estimation, holiday menu planning should not be lumped in with your menu planning, but rather planned out separately and then added into your regular shopping list a little bit at a time. It’s much easier to add a couple of non-perishables each week than to have to make one big holiday shopping list. I’m a big believer in baby-stepping on this kind of thing!

But let’s pretend for a minute you didn’t do that. Here we are, one week before the big holiday. Let’s get a quick grip on where you are and what really needs to be done right now, today so you can have a holiday that is stress free with less rush. In other words, it’s not too late!

1. Guest list. Get this firmed up now. Call, email or send carrier pigeons to your intended invitees, but do it today!

2.  Menu. ‘Nuf said. You know what to do on that! Click here.

3.  Grocery List. The groceries needed for your feast need to be listed, preferably in their specific categories, like dairy, produce, etc.

4.  Special Needs. Do you need linens ironed, serving pieces cleaned, polished or borrowed? Do you have enough silverware, do you want someone to stop and get ice on the way to your house? Add this to your list.

5.  Prep list. Make as much as you can ahead of time. As for me and my house? You know we’re using my Thanksgiving Timeline and you can get it for free by clicking here.

6.  Timeline. If you sit down and logically figure out how everything needs to go, you’ll be less stressed and more relaxed. (My free menu above, has this done for you!!)

Thanksgiving is a time of being thankful, not a time for the perfectionism! Remember to ask for help, recruit big guys to do your mashed potatoes (they do a great job, btw!) and do as much as you can ahead of time!

This year shed the Thanksgiving martyrdom and become the relaxed hostess you’ve  always dreamed of being! It can happen, with a little forethought and planning!


Leanne Ely, your Dinner Diva since 2001

Do you want to really “WOW” your Thanksgiving guests? My Pumpkin Cheesecake is exactly what you need – see how I make it here!


Leanne’s Favorite Food Swaps

Leanne’s Favorite Food Swaps

In life, it’s the little things that count. Not the great big momentous occasions, but the daily moments that all strung together, make up your own personal circle of life. We cannot measure the quality of our lives by the big events like birthday celebrations, weddings, baptisms and graduations. It’s the day-to-day stuff that makes up your life.

This is also true with eating. It’s not just the big meal occasions—dinner out, Thanksgiving, birthday cake and such. Becoming a healthy eater has everything to do with daily decision making over what will go in your mouth, rather than worrying about a special occasion (I say, splurge and enjoy it! The next day, do penance and throw in a little extra exercise and pare a few calories off your daily intake for the next few days.)

But it’s those daily decisions that count; to choose not to drive thru and wait an extra 15 minutes to get home to real food. It’s choosing fruit over donuts; water over soda and not to have that bowl of ice cream watching TV. Those are the little decisions that matter much more so than eating an extra piece of pie at Thanksgiving. Yeah, overindulging is hard on your body and we talk about being “Thanksgiving full” as the ultimate test of fullness, but the daily awareness of what you put in your body is what the definitive cause and effect of how your body looks, feels and operates.

Sometimes it’s easy (like the above example of fruit over donuts). Other times, it’s harder to know what to do. Here are some easy swaps to help you to save calories, your health and your sanity, too, so you know that what you’re doing will make a difference!

Instead of a blueberry muffin (which, let’s be honest, is really a cupcake with blueberries in it!) have a cup of Greek yogurt with 1/2 a cup of blueberries stirred in. Save yourself 249 calories (and some considerable carbs!).

Instead of a 2 slices of whole wheat bread, have 1 Orowheat Sandwich Round (whole wheat also), saving yourself 140 calories!

Instead of 1 cup of white rice, have 1/2 cup of brown rice mixed with chopped steamed broccoli. You’ve just saved yourself nearly 100 calories (and ratcheted up the fiber count, too!).

Instead of a pork chop, go for an equal serving of pork tenderloin and save yourself 50 calories (plus a lot of fat grams!).

It’s not that difficult to make a big difference a little bit at a time. Awareness counts as much as calories do. Keep that in mind as you hit the grocery store this week!

Our Dinner Answers menu planner allows you to completely personalize your grocery list and do your grocery shopping from your PHONE! Check it out!

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

You can’t have the holidays without pumpkin EVERYTHING!! But for those of us trying to stay away from dairy, gluten, and refined sugar – the holidays can feel like the 7th circle of hell – running into temptation at every corner!

So after some recipe testing, we finally found a delicious holiday classic that’s actually PALEO APPROVED!!! May we present our Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream:


Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

For Crust:
3 cups mixed nuts, toasted (we used walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews – you don’t have to use those, but just make sure you choose some nice softer and buttery types of nuts!)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
For Filling:
1 (14.5 ounce) can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 generous tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, grind down toasted nuts. If you do not have a food processor, you can use a rolling pin to crush them (it’s easiest when they’re still warm after getting toasted). Toss with coconut sugar and then press into a pie dish. It can crumble easily, but it’s also buttery enough to stick together well so gently press it up the walls and throughout the bottom of the pie dish evenly.
Put in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a darker golden brown, and then remove. Be careful not to burn crust!
Pull out and allow to cool while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for filling. Whisk together well until thoroughly combined. Pour into nut crust, and place in the oven. Bake for an hour, or until filling sets and doesn’t leave traces on a toothpick.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving, maybe whip up the cream…
Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream
1 (14.5 ounce) can of full fat coconut milk (OR coconut cream, if your store carries it) – if you can’t find coconut cream, it’s not a big deal, but try to find a full fat coconut milk that’s super thick! You can usually tell by shaking the can and if it feels solid, you’ve got a good one!
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
a dash of cinnamon (cause you can never have too much!)
In a medium bowl, scoop out coconut milk. If you found a nice thick one, then the water should’ve separated from the cream! ONLY scoop the cream into the bowl and discard the remaining fluid. Add in all remaining ingredients (syrup through cinnamon) and whisk well until desired consistency!
Serve a huge dollop on top of your Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie – or even on top of your coffee! OR both!


Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

Paleo Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

8 surprising uses for cranberries

8 surprising uses for cranberries

By: Leanne Ely


Not only are they gorgeous, but cranberries are full of nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, iron, magnesium and folate. They also contain antioxidants and phenols that can protect you against all kinds of things, including urinary tract infections.

Since it’s cranberry season, you should stock up on as many of these gorgeous (tart) red orbs as you can. Don’t forget that cranberries freeze beautifully, so buy them now when they’re nice and fresh, and store as many as you can for the winter!

You might not realize it, but there are all kinds of uses for cranberries outside of turkey!

Here are 8 surprising ways you can make use of cranberries:

•Toss 1/3 cup of cranberries to your next smoothie. This measurement will make sure the tartness of the berries won’t totally overpower the drink.
•Smash some cranberries in your cocktails to take down the sweetness a bit.
•Shake things up by adding a cup of cranberries to your next apple pie.
•Add a few cranberries to your breakfast in your oatmeal or yogurt.
•Make your cranberries savory, and roast them with some shallots and a couple cloves of garlic.
•Chop a handful of cranberries into your favorite spicy salsa.
•Boil your cranberries in water with a bit of added honey. This will give you a lovely reduction to serve over pancakes or waffles.
•Puree a cup of cranberries, and whisk them into a your favorite balsamic vinaigrette for a healthy, delicious and beautiful salad dressing.



PS–2015 is coming to a close, and it’s clear you had some favorite mealtime solutions that you loved above all!  For a limited time, I’ve brought back my favorite deals from 2015 and you can get them all at 10% off the original sale price!  Click here to learn more

Mix & Mash these Potatoes

Mix & Mash these Potatoes

By: Leanne Ely


Once upon a time, the only potato option on the Thanksgiving Dinner table was your standard white mashed potatoes.

But today, we know that white potatoes aren’t the be all and end all in a starchy mash. There are several options in potatoes (and non-potatoes) for us to explore, so let’s take a look!

Mashed Potatoes

Traditional Mash. The key to the perfect mashed potato is cooking the right variety of potato. Maybe you didn’t realize there were different varieties of potatoes, and maybe that’s the reason why you haven’t yet perfected mashed potatoes! Start your mashed potatoes by using a variety like Yukon Gold or Russet that are best suited for mashing. Once the spuds are cooked through (fork tender), go ahead and mash the heck out of them with butter and cream or milk.

Traditional Mash (Purple Style). Take the nutrition of your traditional white potato mash up a couple of notches by using purple potatoes instead! Purple potatoes will cook up the same as a standard white potato mash, but their nutritional profile is much higher, thanks to that purple color. When you eat purple potatoes, you’re getting lots of antioxidants into you.

Sweet Potatoes. We go through a lot of sweet potatoes at my house. While they’re still a little high on the starchy side to be overindulging in, they are full of nutrients. I prefer the taste of roasted sweet potatoes to boiled sweet potatoes, so for a delicious sweet potato mash, bake your sweet potatoes in the oven first and then mash butter into them, along with whatever seasonings you like (salt, pepper, cinnamon, etc.).

Faux-tatoes. If you’re a hardcore Paleoista, and you’re limiting the amounts of carbs in your diet to the extent that you have a zero spud rule, you can still have a mound of creamy, buttery goodness on your Thanksgiving Dinner plate with faux-tatoes! The trick is that you use steamed cauliflower in place of the potatoes. For a decadent faux-tato dish, chop a head of cauliflower into bite sized pieces and steam those florets until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Drain the water off after they’re cooked, and pat the cauliflower florets with a clean towel to remove some of the excess moisture. Then, blend with butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper for a very delicious side dish.


Here’s something that will make you smile–it’s our BRAND NEW Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer! The menu is yours for F*REE! Just click below to get the menu.

Paleo Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer

Holiday Paleo Cheat Sheet

Holiday Paleo Cheat Sheet

By: Leanne Ely


If you’ve recently gone Paleo, you might be worried about navigating the kitchen this holiday season, what with all of the sugar, bread and other non-Paleo staples of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner floating around.

But do not fear, Paleoistas! I’ve got your wheat-free little backs!

We’ve put together this Paleo swap cheat for you so you know what to use to replace those common holiday ingredients. You don’t have to give up your favorite Thanksgiving dish!


Holiday Paleo Swaps

Flour. Wheat flour is a no-no for Paleo. I’m also not a huge fan of those gluten-free flour blends (most contain potato starch and ingredients that can spike your blood sugar). Luckily, there are alternatives available. Use arrowroot for your thickening needs (be it a pie or a pan of gravy) and coconut flour for baking.

Dairy. Say no to the heavy cream and yes to full fat coconut milk! And, yes, it has to be the full fat coconut milk when you’re using it to replace cream in you recipes, or you won’t be happy with the results.

Sugar. Refined sugar is the enemy. And, as a Paleoista, you know that. Replace the sugar in your recipes with honey or xylitol so you can have your Thanksgiving cake and eat it, too.

Vegetable oil. Another big no-no on the Paleo diet is vegetable oil. Actually, nobody should be eating vegetable oil, Paleo or not. Swap out the oil in your dessert recipes for grass-fed butter or ghee. Coconut oil is also great for cooking with, and for greasing those pans.

Bread. Bread is the ultimate no-no for Paleo. When it comes to the coveted leftover turkey sandwich, use lettuce leaves as your “bread” and you can enjoy that sandwich without the bloat!

Potato. No mashed potatoes for the hardcore Paleoista, either. Many of us will have a scoop of mashed potatoes (if they’re organic!) with our Thanksgiving dinner. But, if you’re not allowing any white potatoes on your plate this year, choose sweet potatoes (orange or purple), and you’ll be perfectly happy. Especially if you prepare my famous sweet potato recipe!

There. How simple was that?

Be sure to share this cheat sheet with all of your Paleo friends!

Here’s something that will make you smile–it’s our BRAND NEW Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer! Below is our Paleo option, and it is yours for F*REE! Just click below to get the menus.

Paleo Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer



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