With the holidays just around the corner, it’s easy to wonder how to go about staying on track with your healthy eating during this tempting time of year, as well as to be perplexed about what to serve if you’re the host for the family gathering.
It’s actually quite simple.
Regardless of which holiday you celebrate and what foods you do or do not eat, you can stay true to your traditions* without going off the deep end and overloading on calories from unhealthy, refined side dishes (goodbye, green bean casserole and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes!) and sugary desserts like pastries, pies and cakes.
There is much more flexibility than you might imagine.
- First, plan your protein, which really is the pièce de résistance. Free-range turkey, pastured pork roast, grass fed standing rib roast or a wild duck are but a few options for the main dish that may end up gracing your table.
- Choose your sides, and then deconstruct. Keep the flavor profile, while cutting out the unnecessary additives. Make a “stuffing” out of wild mushrooms, rather than cubed bread and “gravy” out of pan jus, rather than whisking in flour. Roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans, steamed broccoli and yam and apple casserole are a few of the many colorful options at your fingertips.
- Think of the themes and flavors you’d like to focus on to keep the meal up to par with the season, like sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme and come up with something new and special all your own!
- Highlight what you are serving, rather than what you’re not. If guests are intrigued by all the brilliant colors, the textured layers of flavors and decadent aromas of holiday foods wafting from the kitchen, they’re hardly going to complain that you’re not offering boring old bread rolls or cheese on baguettes.
- Offer red wine, which is not only Paleo in moderation but also has many health benefits, rather than syrupy holiday cocktails or thick, dairy eggnog.
- Create a take-home gift of Paleoista’s Holiday Truffles (recipe coming soon!), wrapped in small candy boxes and tied with a bow, sending your guests home with a treat will seal the deal on you being crowned the host, or hostess with the most (ess!).
*This is in no way meant to be a commentary on religious traditions that include eating foods that are not Paleo. Simply put, there are those who have found they physically cannot eat some of the foods their culture would hold customary. As an example, one client who celebrates Hanukkah found he could no longer eat matzo after learning he had celiac disease.
Nell Stephenson, the original “Paleoista,” is the author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat (Touchstone, 2012) and co-author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook with Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD (Wiley & Sons, 2010). In addition to her work as nutrition consultant and trained chef, Stephenson is a personal trainer and competitive endurance athlete who credits the Paleo diet for her transformed health and athletic success. Visit her blog at www.paleoista.com.
New to the paleo diet? Take the guesswork out of everyday eating with a customized nutritional plan from Nell Stephenson—now available at Vitacost.com! Choose from more than a dozen specialized menus tailored to fit your unique lifestyle and nutritional needs.