Tag Archives: paleo holidays

Happy Holidays 2013!

Happy Holidays everybody! Now that everything has settled, I have just come to the realization that it’s been almost 10 days since I’ve posted anything, so I feel like a totally horrible blog person! It’s just been a little crazy with the holidays, as I’m sure many of you can relate. The funny thing is,  I didn’t even do that much cooking! I got my gifting stuff done pretty early, but there’s always some last-minute thingy-ma-bobbers and I was helping Mike with his last-minute wrapping. I do have a few tidbits to recap from the past week that I can share as part of my Holiday Post 2013!

Growing up Italian, Christmas Eve meant seafood….lots and lots of seafood. Staples were always Smelts (Basically a bait fish….Dredged in flour and fried), Baked Flounder, Stuffed colossal Shrimp, Crab Sauce, Stuffed Crabs, Baked Clams, Seafood Salad, Scungili Sauce, and Bacala (Salted Cod). Aside from the inevitable pasta, Most of this is very un-paleo because of the breading. For the past few years, we’ve been going to a restaurant, since my great-grandmother stopped cooking the feast a decade ago at 89 years of age, and it was getting too hard for my aunts and grandparents to carry the traditions on as they were. I miss them, but I think one day when I have the space and time, I will start something new, healthy, and paleo, but similar and inspired by my heritage. I love me some seafood!

I bring this up, since it was the inspiration for the dinner I made a few days before Christmas.  I happened to find a bag of Smelts at one of my Asian Groceries, and had to buy it! I dredged about half the bag in Coconut Flour (Seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg, oregano….you can do anything here), as sautéed them in coconut oil. The coconut flour didn’t stick as well as I hoped, So I might dip them in egg next time, but in reality, you don’t even need the “breading”. They were so good, and definitely brought back memories from past Christmas Eve’s!

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To accompany my little fried fishies, I rolled a few flounder filets in coconut flour (with Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano) and Baked them for 12 minutes or so at 375.

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These came out really good as well. I knocked off some of the extra coconut flour after they cooked. They were just the right amount of moist inside, with the dry flour outside. It was definitely beginning to feel like Christmas after that!

For Christmas, we went to both My parents, and Mike’s Mom’s parties. At my parents house, there were lots of paleo options. Brussel Sprouts, Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs, Turnips, Cauliflower, Parsnips. The desserts weren’t completely paleo, but almost everything was gluten-free. I sampled the gluten-free apple pie, as well as some gluten-free cookies and the gluten-free cake pops my sister made. Honestly, it didn’t kill me, and while I make it a point to stay away from gluten and dairy, I felt it wasn’t a big deal  to sample some of the treats since there was no gluten. I knew that at Mike’s Mom’s house the desserts were all going to be off-limits, so I indulged while I could. At his Mom’s. I stuck to sweet potato casserole, turkey, ham, turnips, and any veggies available. It was pretty easy to eat according to my rules. The only un-paleo thing I had, was a small portion of a wild rice dish with mushrooms and cranberries….it was good.

I DID make paleo cookies to contribute to the mix at both parties. The first type I made were Snickerdoodles, from CaveGirl Cuisine. Click my photo to go to the recipe on her page. These were awesome! And since I used my Ninja Blender (Dough Attachment) they were SUPER easy.

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Click to go to the recipe at CaveGirl Cuisine’s Blog!

The second type was Paleo and Nut-Free Cut-Out Cookies from  The Paleo Mom’s Blog. I used unsweetened cocoa powder instead of a bar of chocolate. I decided to make them into Dinosaur Shapes, since they were paleo….and well dinosaurs are awesome! They were a little crumbly, and hard transfer to my cookie sheet, but I managed. I blame my cookie cutter, and Brontosaurus having a thin, weak, neck. They had a strong honey flavor and weren’t so chocolatey, but they were delicious! I would definitely make them again! Click the picture for the recipe.

Click to go to the recipe at The Paleo Mom's Blog!

Click to go to the recipe at The Paleo Mom’s Blog!

Overall, I think I made it through the holidays successfully. No major upset to my digestive tract! With the drinks, and treats I don’t normally eat, including the nut/rice/processed stuff and sugar involved in the gluten-free desserts, I was a little gassy the next day, but clean eating on Thursday cleared it right up. I’m ok with that, and it was totally worth it! Part of living the way I do, is being smart enough to know that one day of treating yourself a little, shouldn’t de-rail you. Especially if you stay away from gluten and dairy! Life is also about having fun, not stressing!  I am strong enough and smart enough to know my body now, and what I can and cannot handle on occasion. Even though I was a little gassy, I wasn’t suffering from headaches, or pain, or major bloating and discomfort. I felt ok!

Gluten and Dairy – Nope,
Gluten Free and Paleo Treats at christmas time – Go!

Anyway, I hope everyone else had a holiday that was as warm and loving as mine, and made it through with similar success! Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

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Paleo Harvest Chestnut Stuffing

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Ah, chestnuts! Nothing quite gets Christmas carols and holiday cheer in your head like a bag of raw chestnuts. Well, actually it all started when I picked up a bag of organic roasted and peeled chestnuts the week prior. I forgot how amazing they are. They’re starchy, almost bready, and have a subtle and wonderful nutty sweetness. Naturally, since this was the week before thanksgiving, the wheels started turning, and I decided to make my stuffing with a combination of chestnuts and sweet potatoes. I figured I’d pimp it out with sausage and fall flavors, and make a bunch of it to bring to our respective families houses, not only to share the love, but to give myself a paleo option. Actually, my parents made a pretty-much-paleo feast, since they’ve been starting to go in that direction, and everything was at least gluten-free, since my mom has a grain intolerance anyway. She made stuffing with gluten-free bread, and I did have a spoon of it to taste, but stuck to mine mostly. There were all sorts of yummy veggies, roasted carrots, brussels, kale salad…Even the desserts were paleo-fied. I brought some of my Paleo Pumpkin Pie Balls, and the stuffing, which disappeared by the end of dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Pecans
  • 1 bag/ lb Chestnuts
  • 2 Apples
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3-4 stalks Celery
  • 1 large purple Sweet potato
  • 2 lbs Ground turkey / beef (or sausage)
  • 1 pt duck broth.
  • Cinnamon, sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt

Instructions:

  1. Mix your sausage meat the night before so the flavors have a chance to combine. I use a pound of turkey and a pound of beef. Mix them together with generous amounts of cinnamon, sage, thyme, pepper, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Chop all the vegetable ingredients in a food processor, or if your don’t have one, just make sure they are small and evenly sized. Add to a bowl with the pecans and Set aside.

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  3. Roast the chestnuts. Cut an X into the flat side of each chestnut, and roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or so. The cut part will peel back. You want to peel them while they’re still warm, because they get harder to peel as they cool. Honestly, you can use the bagged pre-peeled and roasted chestnuts if you want to save time, but I think roasting them from scratch is more festive, plus you can get the rest of the family to participate and help peel. Break up the chestnuts into pieces and combine with the veggies.
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  4. Brown meat and then mix together with the rest of the mixture. Add some more seasonings and mix. pour into a 9×17 glass pan and bake uncovered about 30 min. Add duck broth and return covered to oven. Bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft.

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It’s fairly easy, and super yummy. The chestnuts give it a nice starchiness that is a totally different texture than the sweet potato, and definitely pays a respectful flavor homage to some of the stuffing I’ve encountered.  Next time I might use a different variety of apple, but overall it came out great. I might just use the packaged chestnuts though, because it was very labor intensive to peel them all, and the packaged ones I’ve tried are all fantastic.

I made A LOT of this stuff, enough to bring to both parties, and I still had my own batch of leftovers coming out of my ears…..definitely not a bad thing. One of the things I used it for which I loved, was breakfast the following morning.  I put some eggs over it, and it kept me full for hours. It’s one of those versatile dishes that makes a great snack or side dish, breakfast or dinner. I ate it in some way, pretty much every day until it was gone, and never got tired of it.


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