Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I know that many of you are frantically preparing paleo-friendly feasts for your friends and families! I will be continuing to post all week, but I thought today would be a good day to take a moment and share with you some of my favorite paleofied side dishes and desserts for you to include in your meal preparations (wanted to give you enough time to shop for ingredients!).
Last year, I made a completely paleo turkey dinner for Thanksgiving (see this post) and I will be doing the same this year. I completely dropped the ball on ordering a free range turkey on time for the holiday, so I am now planning on cooking a leg of lamb with most of the traditional side dishes that I would typically serve with turkey (lamb and cranberry sauce is a pretty great combination!).
For me, the trick to any big meal is planning dishes that can either be made in advance or don’t require much tending. I try to limit the number of dishes where I have to actively stir something on the stovetop to two (this keeps my stress level much lower). I love casseroles and roasted veggies because I can prepare most if not all beforehand and then just pop into the oven while the turkey (or in this year’s case, lamb) is resting.
Below are some of my favorite dishes, both of my own and some from other blogs or books that I think are worth checking out.
If you are looking for a breadless stuffing recipe that feels like traditional stuffing and tastes amazingly good, my eggplant and wild mushroom stuffing is the recipe for you. The eggplant and mushrooms absorb the flavors of the herbs and the turkey juices as the turkey bakes (very analogous to bread). The texture and taste are very similar to the stuffing my mom made every year while I was growing up. This recipe has the benefit of being egg-free, nut-free, and meat-free (for those who don’t care for sausage-based stuffing recipes, which are very common in the paleo community). I was planning on making an all mushroom version of this stuffing this year, since I can’t eat nightshades, but I guess now, I’ll save that for Christmas.
While I hope you try my stuffing recipe, there’s a few other recipes that look so good to me, and I felt like I would be remiss if I didn’t
point you to them as options. I’m a big fan of chestnut as a stuffing ingredient, so I have two different chestnut-based stuffing recipes to point you to. Eat Live Grow Paleo has a chestnut and sausage version that you might find tempting. Not Just a Man’s World has a chestnut and bacon version which looks awesome too. Wellness Mama has a root vegetable based-stuffing which can also double as a root vegetable side dish. A fun twist on traditional stuffing is the Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs from Practical Paleo (which I baked as part of my book review). You’ve lucked out because Diane Sanfilippo has published both her meatball and her cranberry sauce recipes on her blog Balanced Bites. I will be making Diane’s cranberry sauce this year.
A quick note on gravy, which seems to fit in here. I have always made pan gravey with broth made from boiling the giblets. Last year, I thickened with coconut flour, but this year, my plan is to make a pan gravy and thicken with arrowroot powder. Use arrowroot powder the same way you would any thickener. First, mix with some cold water, then pour into your pan or pot on the stove, bring to a simmer and let thicken a few minutes while stirring constantly.
Root vegetables in all different forms are traditional at Thanksgiving Dinner. My family’s favorite is my baked spiced yams (which are really sweet potatoes). They taste amazing, the kids love them (my youngest calls them yam circles), and they are very easy. This year, I also plan to make some savory roasted taro root (most of the work can be done in advance, and this tastes the most like roasted potato of any root vegetable I’ve tried) in lieu of mashed cauliflower. For those who want to keep the starch to a minimum, I recommend my roasted butternut squash recipe. Another favorite of mine is the roasted carrot recipe from Eat Like A Dinosaur (which I made for my review).
Mixed roasted root vegetables are a classic side dish too (one that I often make and never measure anything). Autoimmune Paleo has a simple recipe that you could customize for your own tastes. Thyme, rosemary and garlic would all be good seasoning additions to this basic recipe. For those who miss their scalloped potatoes, this recipe from The Whole Kitchen looks awesome. If you allow some dairy into your diet (including cheese), you might also consider this recipe from Jes’ CrossFit Blog or the scalloped sweet potato recipe in Sweet Potato Power.
Hands down, my favorite decadent side dish is bacon-braised Brussels sprouts. I don’t think I could ever get tired of it. I am also planning on making my hot cranberry spinach salad, which has the benefit of cooking very quickly. Whole Family Strong has a recipe for roasted broccoli and cauliflower, which would be a great side dish. A more casserole-esque recipe is the roasted cashew covered broccoli from The Paleo Project. If green bean casserole is a tradition in your house, then you have to check out this recipe from And Love It Too.
I will probably make a salad too. In the olden days, salad was always the side dish that I made that nobody ate. I make fewer side dishes now so that we can all save room for salad. I’m on a big pomegranate kick these days since they’re just coming into season. I will probably make a variation of Against All Grain’s arugula salad with pomegranate seeds and blueberries (I’m on an arugula kick too)
If you are thinking of making a paleo pumpkin pie, then you need to try my version. It is creamy, tasty goodness and a recipe that I am extremely proud of. I also have a recipe for pumpkin pie squares, which have all the flavor of pumpkin pie, but are very quick to make. This year, I’m going to be experimenting with paleo apple pie recipes. If you like the idea of apple pie as a dessert, you might also try my paleo apple crisp.
I hope you found a recipe or two to inspire you above. There are so many great paleo recipe blogs now, that there certainly is no shortage of great recipes to try. I hope that whatever you cook on Thanksgiving turns out perfectly and I wish you and your families a relaxing, safe and fun-filled Thanksgiving weekend.