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
By: Leanne Ely
Setting a proper dinner table is a simple thing and one that will make you feel like the elegant hostess you are.
We’re talking specifically Thanksgiving today, but you can start making dinner an occasion every day. Not just on a holiday.
Yes you can even break out the good china and crystal for a Tuesday supper if you like but that’s not necessary! 😉 It is important to know how to set a table and in turn, teach your children how to as well. Etiquette is becoming a lost art, so let’s try to keep it alive!
Start with some nice clean linens. You don’t necessarily need a tablecloth for your everyday dinners, but it’s a surefire way to hide a less than desirable table! And for sure use cloth napkins—they’re lovely and make everyone feel like a special guest.
The dinner plate goes in the center of the placemat with the folded napkin set to its left. The bread plate should go above the napkin. If you’re serving salad, place the salad plate on top of the dinner plate.
Place your forks on the napkin, salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. Your dessert fork and spoon will go above the dinner plate. Set the dinner knife to the right of the dinner plate with the blade facing in. To the right of the knife, place the teaspoon. If you’re serving soup, the soup spoon goes to the right of the teaspoon.
The water glass goes to the top right of the plate, with the wine glass to its right.
Now, sit back and admire this beautifully set table!
I challenge you to learn how to make dinner an occasion that your family looks forward to every single day. Sitting down together to share a meal and to talk about your day is a ritual to be cherished, not just on holidays. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving from my table to yours 🙂
by Leanne Ely
Here is a question I received that I believed warranted answering for everyone—
Hi- I LOVE “Saving Dinner”! My husband loves the food even more. Here is my question: how feasible is it to freeze any Thanksgiving side-dishes in advance (ie cranberry sauce, casseroles, even stuffing)? Thanks! I am busy with a new baby AND hosting this year!
From, Flybaby Barbara
Great question. You know how I’m all about doing things ahead for the holidays. And I’m all about the freezer, too. Can these two things be compatible and make for an even easier holiday? The answer is…yes and no. Some things just need to be done freshly and some things freeze beautifully, so let’s take these things one by one:
1—The Turkey. Yeah, it freezes, but the quality will not be the same. This is one place where I will say make it fresh the day of. I make it the easy, juiciest most delicious way if I do say so myself. And the best part? You don’t stuff it and you don’t baste it.
2—Cranberry sauce. Go ahead, knock yourself out! Again, I have a great recipe for it and it freezes beautifully. For the record, I’ve bought bags of fresh cranberries and frozen them in the bag I bought them in, used them about six months later and they were great too. Or you could save yourself some trouble and buy the canned variety.
3—Dressing. I can tell you from personal experience that dressing freezes fairly well. It can dry out a bit, but if you’ll thaw it overnight in the fridge, then drizzle a little melted butter and broth over the top, cover it with foil and heat thoroughly through, it will work fine and no one will be the wiser.
4—Gravy. Good gravy, yes! Gravy is a wonderful thing to behold and it freezes fabulously. Here’s a secret for you that I have in the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer—extend your homemade gravy with some store-bought stuff. Oh yeah, that’s the best cheating secret out there. No one will know (your secret is safe with me!) and you too, will own the Endless Gravy Boat. This is important stuff when you’re worried that your father-in-law is going to hog all the gravy!
5—Pies. You can freeze your pies—or you can buy them frozen, LOL. This is one place where I would either have people bring them or buy frozen myself. Having had a Thanksgiving baby myself (my son was born on a November 21st), I remember doing Thanksgiving and having my mom bring the pies.
6—Mashed potatoes. In my book, they are a non-freezable, item—quality and texture suffer big time. I would make these fresh in the morning and put them in my crockpot on low all day. BUT, and this is the big BUT; TEST YOUR CROCKPOT FIRST with a pot full of taters (you can make cream of potato soup out of them later) to make SURE your crockpot won’t burn them. All crockpots are not created equal and it’s through trial and error that we learn our own crockpotty appliance’s nuances.
7—Veggies. You can freeze sweet potato casseroles and green bean casseroles too. Those are not my particular favorite Thanksgiving veggies, but if they are mainstays at your table, rest assured, they freeze fairly well. May get a little watery on top, but easily blot-able with a paper towel and a little finesse.
8—Rolls and Butter. By all means, freeze the both of them. They freeze well, thaw well and quality does not suffer.
That about covers it. Hope it helps!
PS–Looking for great holiday freezer recipes? For a limited time, we have our Celebrations for the Freezer Bundle on sale! This mouth-watering bundle includes freezer menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and more! Click here to get yours now
Today is Thanksgiving.
There’s a wonderful turkey in my oven, my table is set, my family is here, and dear friends are on their way.
Just before we eat our wonderful Thanksgiving meal, we traditionally gather together in a circle, holding hands and each one of us will say one thing we’re especially thankful for. And then we’ll bow our heads and pray, thanking the One who has so abundantly blessed us all.
This year I want to tell you what I’ll be sharing in our little circle because this is what’s been on my heart for months. I’m so very thankful I still have my Mom.
In July, I flew out to California after a call from my Mom that she was being admitted to the hospital. I got on the first plane out that I could and when I finally arrived at the hospital, I saw my little mommy laying in a bed–thin and weak, needing a walker to get around. I was devastated and scared.
After several days in the hospital, it was time for her to go home, but she still needed care and we were concerned for the future. I was relieved when she made the decision to come home with me, requiring a move cross country. It’s been a transition for all of us, but as the months have gone by, we have watched her get better daily. We surround her with love, care and a lot of laughter. My Mom is a fighter. And as I wrote in the dedication of my new book to my Mom, I’m fiercely proud to be her daughter.
This is my hope and my prayer for you this blessed Thanksgiving. That you feel an urgency to love with all your heart. That you understand that your family is precious–they’ve been given to you by divine appointment. Know that time with them is sacred. Cherish every moment. Surround them with as much love as you can give, kindness, laughter and care. And be thankful for them everyday, not just Thanksgiving.
With gratitude and love for you all,
By Leanne Ely, CNC
Thanksgiving is one holiday where you cannot let your perfectionism run your life. Norman Rockwell paintings are paintings—not snapshots of real life. It’s an idealistic picture of what we all wish and pine for; not the real McCoy. Remember that if you run out of gravy, burn the rolls or the turkey isn’t done and it’s 6:00 PM Thanksgiving Day!
A sense of humor should be standard operating equipment for each one of us. Even if you weren’t born with one, you can have one if you decide to stop taking yourself so seriously, lighten up on the perfectionism and make up your mind to laugh at even your biggest gaffs.
Years ago, I read something about a woman I will never forget. It seems this woman was putting a new big bottle of water on the water cooler, when it slipped off and all the water came gushing out all over the floor. Apparently, she was known for her temper but a FlyLady musing (from FlyLady.net) had made her stop and take note that her angry words were damaging herself and her family.
So instead of getting upset, she started to laugh. Then her children started to laugh, and then they played in the water and laughed some more! In the end, they all gathered up beach towels, mopped up the floor and this story became a cherished family memory. It’s amazing how a change of attitude can completely overhaul a bad situation!
Remember that this Thanksgiving if you’re hosting your family and friends at your house. Take volunteers if they ask, recruit people to help if they don’t and above all, remember that even a Thanksgiving with a ruined dinner and grilled cheese sandwiches can become the best Thanksgiving ever. It’s all in your attitude!
Speaking of grilled cheese. Mexicans call their grilled cheese sandwiches quesadillas—same thing, just made with a tortilla. Here’s a recipe for a quick meal, Mexican style—
4 (10 inch) whole wheat tortillas
1 cup Mexican style shredded cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (or use Thanksgiving leftover turkey)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Your favorite jarred salsa
In a nonstick skillet, heat a tortilla over medium high heat, open faced for just a minute. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese all over the tortilla, allowing the cheese to begin to melt. Now place about 1/2 cup of the chicken over the cheese on just ONE side of the tortilla, adding a quarter of the sliced onion on top of that, followed by 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Fold the tortilla over and mash the top ever so slightly with your spatula to allow the insides to mush together. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Serve with your favorite jarred salsa and any other condiments you may enjoy. Enjoy!
Per Serving: 337 Calories; 10g Fat; 33g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 449mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable. Points: 8
Share your favorite (or funniest) Thanksgiving memory with us!