If you’re trying to cook a paleo holiday meal this year, don’t let the absence of grains or dairy intimidate you! Making a paleo holiday meal only requires a few simple tweaks and modifications that are relatively easy and don’t require any fancy ingredients. Keep these seven tips in mind for the holiday season if you’re trying to live a paleo lifestyle but still enjoy the holiday season!
1. Let Your Protein Take Center Stage
One of the easiest paleo holiday meal tricks is letting protein take center stage. Whether you’re cooking a turkey, a giant roast, or a beautiful fillet of salmon, take the time and money to splurge on a high quality ingredient. Organic and grass fed animals products are best, as they are made without antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that could alter their nutrition. If you’re worried about the extra cost, think of it this way. You’ll probably be saving money by not buying a bunch of processed food and other non-paleo ingredients. Take those savings and invest them in your health by purchasing a high quality protein choice this year.
2. Find Grain and Dairy-Free Recipes Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until the day of your holiday to search for grain-free and dairy-free recipes. Conduct your research ahead of time by searching online for some paleo recipes you’d like to try. If you want, test out some of these recipes in the weeks and months leading up to the holiday meal. This way, you can make adjustments to the recipes as needed.
3. Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce in Your Slow Cooker
Traditional canned cranberry sauce is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, which is definitely a no-no on the paleo diet. Ditch the artificial sweeteners and make your own cranberry sauce instead. Don’t worry about standing over a hot stove for hours—you can actually make homemade cranberry sauce in your slow cooker. If you’re trying to cut the sugar content even more, use other fruits like ripe shredded pears, a little organic orange juice, or some stevia to sweeten the cranberries without adding too much sugar.
4. Nutritional Yeast Can Jazz up All Veggies
Many traditional holiday dishes use lots of dairy like sour cream, canned cream of mushroom soup, or cheese in their recipes. Depending on what sort of paleo diet you’re following, you might not be consuming dairy products this holiday season. Nutritional yeast is a great product that will give you that cheesy flavor without the dairy. Although this is originally a food for vegans, nutritional yeast is great for paleo dieters as well. Sprinkle it on veggies like you would parmesan cheese to jazz up veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or even carrots.
5. Roast Carrots or Sweet Potatoes for Added Fiber
Most paleo plans steer clear of white potatoes. Take advantage of root vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes this year. As long as you don’t prepare them with processed oils or refined sugar, carrots and sweet potatoes are definitely in line with the paleo plan. Loaded with fiber and a rich source of vitamin A, you won’t miss traditional spuds one bit!
6. Use Coconut Oil as Your Main Fat
Refined oils are not allowed on the paleo-diet and if you don’t eat dairy that might also eliminate fats like butter. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a great cooking oil on the paleo plan. You can sauté veggies in it, rub it all over your turkey prior to baking, or use it in place of butter for many paleo desserts.
7. Use Pumpkin and/or Raw Cacao as the Base of Your Desserts
Speaking of dessert, remember that it IS possible to have dessert even when following a paleo lifestyle. It might be difficult to find recipes that don’t use refined oils, refined flours, or refined sugars, but with a little research and creativity you can definitely make some healthy and delicious paleo desserts. Try making holiday desserts where pumpkin or raw cacao serves as the base or main flavors. These are two of the best dessert ingredients with the highest nutritional rankings, making them perfect for baking.
A paleo holiday meal might require a few adjustments, but it’s definitely possible this season. What are some of your favorite paleo food hacks for the holidays this year?