You have been on Paleo this year and been doing great, but now it’s the holiday season. Don’t worry! You can still be Paleo throughout the holidays and into the new year, without having to stress or miss time with your friends and family.
Enjoy These Paleo-Friendly Holiday Foods
Some traditional holiday dishes are very Paleo-friendly while others are rich in dairy, fat, and grains. If you're attending a holiday meal at someone else's home or you're planning your own dinner, here are some suggestions for foods that will work well with your diet.
Focus on vegetable side dishes without dairy-based sauces or butter. Popular veggies during the holidays include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, sweet potato, and squash. This is the great thing about holiday meals – most people serve plenty of veggies as healthy sides, so you can fill up your plate with them, and still enjoy a meal with your family and friends.
Organically sourced meat is perfectly suitable for a Paleo diet. Make sure you choose grain-fed poultry and meat for your meal. If this isn’t available and you can’t bring a meat dish of your own, just choose a little less meat, and a little more of the veggies.
Paleo-Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole
This iconic Thanksgiving and Christmas dish is often rich in butter and sugar but it's just as delicious without the refined additives. Sweet potatoes on their own are Paleo-friendly. Make your staple casserole Paleo-friendly with raw honey, almond or cashew milk, and maple syrup.
Note – If you are not preparing the meal, either ask the host if they can adjust the recipe, or simply choose whether or not it is worth it to you to eat the traditional sweet potatoes, or if you want to skip it this time.
Variation of Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin is a Paleo-friendly food that's high in vitamins but traditional pumpkin pie destroys the health benefits with refined sugar and dairy. If you are bringing the pumpkin pie to a party, consider making your own pumpkin pie with dairy alternatives like almond milk and natural sweeteners.
Create Paleo Holiday Favourites with Substitutions
With a little creativity, you can still make your favourite holiday dishes without breaking your Paleo diet. After all, the Paleo diet isn't very restrictive once you learn a reliable system to replicate your favourite foods.
Here's a quick overview of ingredient substitutions you can use during your holiday meal planning plus ideas for making holiday classics.
Replace the Flour in Your Recipes
When you are cooking and baking holiday treats, most recipes are going to ask for flour or bread crumbs. Since these are not allowed on the Paleo diet, you will need to look for a good alternative.
Instead of using traditional all-purpose flour, try using either coconut or almond flour. It will be a slightly different texture, but works great in many recipes.
A good alternative for bread crumbs is to use ground flax meal.
Skip the Dairy
If you have been on Paleo for a while, you are probably already accustomed to skipping the cow’s milk and other dairy products, and using dairy alternatives instead. For your holiday recipes, continue with this tradition, using nut milk like almond milk or cashew milk instead. Some other options include coconut milk or using coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
Finding a Good Sweetener
For your sweets during the holiday season, you won’t be able to use white table sugar or brown sugar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them sweet! Instead of sugar, try sweetener alternatives like raw honey or real maple syrup. You can also try coconut sugar when you are in a pinch.
Getting Through the Holiday Parties
When you aren’t hosting your own holiday party, it can get a little tricky and feel intimidating. However, don’t let this discourage you from spending time with family and loved one during the season.
Here are some easy ways to survive the holiday parties while staying on Paleo, and actually enjoy yourself.
Tell the Host About Your Diet
When attending dinner at someone else's home for the holidays, it's okay to give them a head's up about your dietary restrictions. Many people are now used to accommodating diets like gluten-free and vegan and will at least be willing to make minor changes to the menu or offer alternatives that will be appropriate for your diet.
Of course, others may not be willing to make changes to their time-honoured recipes, in which case you can consider bringing a few dishes to share.
Eat Veggies First
Eating your veggies first will serve a few purposes at holiday parties. To start with, it fills you up so that you are not starving when dinner starts, and really struggling with saying no to stuffing and rolls. This also makes you feel like you are joining in with the rest of your family by eating along with them, even though you are still eating the Paleo-approved foods.
Don’t Skip the Sweets
This is a personal decision, but if you really don’t want to say no a loved one who worked hard on treats that are not Paleo-friendly, there are ways around it. To start with, you can add a small amount to your plate and just not eat it, or have a bite or two. Another option is to simply eat all other foods first, then if you still have a craving, eat a little nibble of mashed potatoes or pie.