One of the biggest struggles of following a healthy food plan during the holidays is when you get together with friends and loved ones. As much as you enjoy seeing them, you probably don’t want to fall off the wagon and possibly gain back some of the weight that you’ve worked so hard to lose or maintain this year. While it will take some extra planning, it’s quite possible to cook a healthy Thanksgiving dinner that everyone will enjoy.
Start with Familiar Foods
There are traditional Thanksgiving dishes that your non-whole food diet friends and family would be eating whether they were on your food plan or not. Make a list of these food items and be sure to include them on the list. Your family will already be familiar with these foods, so it will feel just like any other Thanksgiving dinner to them. The staples of any Thanksgiving dinner are typically turkey, and possibly ham or another meat. Traditional vegetables side dishes can include sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, corn and greens. This is already a great base for a Paleo or low carb diet.
Create Variations of Classic Thanksgiving Dishes
The next thing you can do when you are cooking a Thanksgiving meal for your family is to think of simple variations of the dishes your family will eat. There are quite a few different variations of familiar dishes that (may) keep them happy and will also be within the whole foods diet for you.
However, you know your family and their tastes. If you know the following suggestions won’t work for your crew, make some variations for yourself ahead of time so that you don’t feel deprived.
Make regular bread stuffing for your family and a cauliflower rice stuffing for yourself. You’ll start by making cauliflower rice by using a head of cauliflower that is put into the food processor (some stores like Target and Trader Joe’s offer pre-chopped cauliflower.) You mix in the same seasonings and vegetables that are in traditional stuffing so that it has the same flavors such as onion, celery, sage, basil, salt and pepper, and some poultry seasoning. This cauli-rice stuffing is easy to make and the final result looks just like regular stuffing.
You can also make your own version of pumpkin pie for dessert. Instead of a regular crust, you will use chopped raw nuts along with dates and some cinnamon. The pumpkin pie filling is very similar to regular pumpkin pie, but with a few minor changes. Use some pumpkin puree along with honey, eggs, and coconut milk. You can also add in any spices you like.
Pinterest is your friend here…search for Paleo (or gluten free) Thanksgiving ideas and you’ll get dozens of suggestions. For me, I’ve really learned to enjoy Paleo desserts with almond flour and coconut sugar and don’t miss the sugar and carb crashes at all.
Be Sure to Cook Their Favorite Foods
Let’s face it…Thanksgiving is all about food traditions. Some people might become really upset if the menu is completely different than what they look forward to! My own strategy here is to talk with my family beforehand to see what’s most important to them and make it. I know there’s enough Paleo and low/carb options that I can make a couple of things for myself so that I can enjoy dinner and not feel deprived.
The most important thing is setting apart the day to be with your loved ones. So if you do wind up eating off-plan, remember that tomorrow is a new day and just get back on plan.