When we were asked by Paleo Magazine to put together an article for the holidays, we knew exactly what we wanted to do and are thrilled to share it with you in time for the holidays! One of our favorite things about Real Life Paleo is that it’s the real recipes we love and use all the time in our own life. It’s the culmination of nearly five years of feeding ourselves, friends, family and you all the best way we know how. Which means… it’s full of AWESOME recipes perfect for the holiday season that you can trust to wow the people you love, even if they’re not Paleo! Like our Meatballs 3 Ways – super easy, full of flavor, and perfect for almost any occasion.
So, before you(r loved ones) fall face first into a pumpkin pie eating contest this holiday season, let us assure you that you can see January 1st without a bloated belly! We’ve put together menus for our major holidays to keep you on track, feeling great, and making num num noises without the need for elastic waist-band pants in 2015 (although, let’s be honest, yoga pants are always a good idea).
Our newest guide and cookbook, Real Life Paleo is loaded with the exact kind of foods we (and most busy people) eat every day, served in inventive, delicious ways to engage your family in a real-foods approach. With a phased approach to “going paleo” there’s transition foods fitting for any occasion as well as paleo superfood recipes for those who have been on the journey for years and are looking to up their game. What’s great is that there’s something for everyone, no matter the occasion. Which is why we think you could plan your entire holiday menus using this ONE book! In fact, we even marked all recipes with a “holiday” tag when we think they’d be great for special events.
Since prehistoric times, humans have celebrated special occasions with food, drinks, and family gatherings, and over time, certain foods have become associated with certain holidays and events. Even though going Paleo means giving up some of the ingredients that make up those traditional dishes, we still want to celebrate in a traditional way. Keep in mind that we’re approaching this from a typical middle-American perspective, which is dominated by Christian religious traditions. If you happen to have a different cultural or religious background, there’s probably someone else writing about that perspective. For example, Elana Amsterdam writes extensively on her blog, Elana’s Pantry, about making gluten-free foods for Jewish holidays, and Michelle Tam from Nom Nom Paleo frequently writes about Chinese traditions.
The classic Thanksgiving meal is still possible, even if you’re living a grain-free lifestyle. Roasting a turkey falls naturally in line with Paleo; just season it with salt, black pepper, and herbs. But if the stuffing is what you’re really after, try our Turkey Breasts Stuffed with “Cheese” and Cranberries. Our Stuffed Mushrooms make an excellent appetizer. For sides, we also recommend our Green Bean Casserole, Cauli-Mash, Biscuits, and Cranberry-Orange No Bake Coconut Bars. For other typical Thanksgiving dishes, just a little change is enough. Simmering cranberries by themselves (or with the added orange that makes the topping of the above bars) makes cranberry jelly, and sweet potatoes are excellent with a little butter or ghee, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a homemade Marshmallows. Finish the night with Pumpkin Pudding or Pumpkin Parfait.
In our family, the celebratory foods of the holiday actually start the week before when we give friends, family, and co-workers treats as their holiday gifts. Our homemade Marshmallows are always a popular hit, especially when we add peppermint extract and use natural red food dye to make pretty swirls that look like a candy cane. Other favorites have been our Pumpkin Butter, Apple Butter, and Apple Butter BBQ Sauce (which are all secretly incredibly easy and affordable to make!).
On Christmas Eve we have a comforting one-pot meal like Chicken & Dumplings (Paprikosh), Lamb Stew, or Juicy Potroast and make Santa some healthier alternatives to the treats he gets from other houses, supposedly the jolly ol’ man loves our fruit sweetened Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies. But the best part for the children is getting to put out carrots for the reindeer!
On Christmas morning our family (even the non-Paleo ones) loves our long-standing tradition of Monkey Bread to snack on during Christmas morning while we open gifts. Our family’s original recipe used to use canned biscuit dough, but our updated version uses homemade dough without any grains at all. Other popular favorites with our family for Christmas Brunch include Iced Mocha, Eggnog, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. We have many happy memories of enjoying these treats as we unwrap our presents.
Our family now hosts an annual brunch which has become legend. Matt almost always makes homemade sausage (the family favorite being our Maple Blueberry Turkey Sausage) and CC’s Famous Hash browns that morning. Our Quick Banana Soufflé Cake, Sweet Potato Apple Hash, Prosciutto Wrapped Pears, Meatballs in a Pig Blanket, Eggs in a Nest, Cinnamon Apple Crumb Cake, Blueberry Breakfast Cookies, and Frittata are excellent make-ahead dishes for a fantastic brunch buffet without too much time in the kitchen on Christmas day!
For Christmas dinner our family loves to stay in, snuggle in front of the fire playing with new toys. We used to order in instead of making another elaborate meal, but we’ve come to believe that everyone (who wants to) should have time with their family on this holiday and have figured out how to recreate the foods we used to love to order in, like our Chinese Take Out Meal, Thai Take Out, and our personal favorite (because it’s easiest), Make Your Own Meatza!
If you, like us, host a New Year’s Eve party (keeping your children up waaaaaay past a reasonable bedtime) then you might be looking for a menu which includes a lot of finger foods that can be enjoyed throughout the evening. We recommend our trio of Meatballs (recipes below for our Mint Lamb, Orange Sesame, and Beef in a Pig Blanket versions), Pork Belly Bites with Arugula, Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Wings, Stuffed Mushrooms, Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Sweet Potato Chips, or for those brave folks our Chicken Liver Mousse with tart apple slices or Almond Meal Crackers can be a nutrient-dense conversation starter. If you’re having a last hoo-rah with sweets, our Monster Dough Cookie dip also goes great with apple slices and sits very well at room temperature. We’re also huge fans of our Lemon Thumbprint Cookies or other finger-friendly treats that don’t need silverware.
On New Year’s Day, the Western tradition is to eat foods that symbolize a successful coming year. We like to eat greens, like Creamed Kale, which represent luck with money for obvious reasons, and pork, like our Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder because pigs represent progress. For a lot of people it also is a new start to clean eating after a few weeks (or months) of indulgences. If you’re looking for a celebratory not-too-sweet treat, our fruit-sweetened Salted Caramel Frappe, Pancakes, Waffles and Snack Balls make an excellent choice to start anew in the New Year!
Meatballs – Three Ways from Real Life Paleo
We happen to think that meatballs make a great dish for almost any occasion, and think that all 3 of these recipes will please any friends or family you want to impress this holiday season. We hope you enjoy this SNEAK PEEK EXCLUSIVE RECIPE from Real Life Paleo.
Don’t forget to go check out the free online monthly e-version of Paleo Magazine, featuring us (Nov 2014) for a ton of great content!