It is that time of year! The time for some big feasts! Maybe you are doing these meals all alone for the first year ever! One thing to keep in mind is that you can make these meals from real food, for cheap, and make them healthy! If you have been doing a real-food diet, and you have been trying to make things better for yourself, the holidays can be overwhelming!
We love the comfort of foods we know and for a lot of us, that means processed foods, and poor ingredients for our health unfortunately. But it’s so easy to make some swaps and still get the flavors and comfort you love.
Let’s just break down a possible holiday meal and see how easy it is!
This is the most common meat selection. At this point, you will likely have to choose from your supermarket. Of course, sourcing is always the best organic and free range for turkey. But that might not be in your budget, or available near you. Choose the best you can in the size you want. It is always great if you have a local turkey farmer to buy directly. Check your local farmer’s market, or farms near you online!
What to AVOID: Do NOT use packets of seasoning or other packets included with any type of protein purchase. Toss those out. Simply use basic organic seasonings from the grocery store instead. Water, olive oil, basic seasoning work great!
This can be very processed if you aren’t sure what to do. I remember the packets of gravy, and I have watched many a processed jar or gravy be plopped onto the stoves in holiday celebrations I have been to.
Today, most are filled with MSG and other chemicals. Let’s just avoid that and do it easily. If you have cooked a chicken during the week, you can use the stock you got from that. OR you can grab some organic clean chicken broth/stock from the store as your base. OR you can use your drippings from your turkey. Use some grass-fed butter, and arrowroot and combine. Arrowroot is a healthier flour and is gluten-free. It is better than a processed white, all-purpose. Here is an easy recipe.
What to AVOID: Packages that are add water only; jars of gravy. Use organic stocks or the drippings from your turkey. Choose grass-fed butter and non-gluten flours as thickeners.
Ditch those flakes and packaged boxes of things that are supposed to be mashed potato. These are super easy to make! You can just boil the potatoes (we go with a red or white skin) and then use your beaters to mash them. We don’t even peel them! You can go with garlic or cheesy. Here is a great base. If you go with more cheese be sure you buy a block and not pre-shredded which is loaded with fillers!
What to AVOID: Packages of boxed flakes. Use real butter, use real herbs and seasonings – no packets. Use grass-fed/pastured cheese. No pre-shredded – just blocks. Check your ingredients. Use whole fat creamer, or whole fat sour creams for flavor and thickness/texture.
Nothing is more seasonal than this right?! Here is a great recipe to try. We love a great puree also. It can serve as a base for your vegetables or a dipping sauce even for your turkey or other meat. It’s simple just stovetop cook the squash and then add some cream to your blender or food processor. Be sure to use a pastured heavy cream, and if you are at the supermarket, check to be sure it’s just cream and not combined with fillers.
What to AVOID: Canned pre-flavored/seasoned items. Use a fresh butternut squash, or if frozen ONLY the squash. You can season from there. No packets, and use only whole fat, grass-fed dairy if possible.
These are easy ones to do up just right with real food items. Green beans from the store or market, you can do some grass-fed butter, herbs and spices, onions, garlic, and peppers. You could even add in (my favorite) some pasture-raised bacon. I love the slow cooker for green beans. So easy!
What to AVOID: Preseasoned bags. You can use frozen if you must, but there should be no seasoning on them. Use the seasoning above for flavor! Organic beans are always best.
This one gets a little more challenging but it can be done. Most commercial breads and bread crumb mixes are highly processed, contain white flour, and have little to no nutritional value. My recommendation is to either make your bread from quality flour (like an einkorn, or whole wheat), and dry them. But if that is still too much, look to your local bakery for some freshly made bread from whole grains and/or crumbs themselves.
If you need to be grain free – no fear there are some options. Creating your own grain-free biscuits with alternative flours like almond and coconut, and then drying them to create bits is an option. Check out this recipe to help.
What to AVOID: The cheapest white bread out there. Buying a higher quality bread, either gluten-free or wheat if you can tolerate that is always better than cheap white bread. Try to go grain-free this year – see how that goes. Or just skip it all together. Do you need it?
This is an amazing pie that is perfect for this time of year. You want to look for quality ingredients and do it from scratch at home. It is very simple. Grabbing a can of organic pumpkin puree makes it simpler! You can make your own of course from a pumpkin if you want to get really into the process. But there are plenty of organic safe canned sources to make it simple and easy.
Your pie crust could go in the grain-free realm, or you can choose a flour like einkorn for a more traditional, yet healthier approach. Einkorn tastes very traditional and cannot be told apart from white flour by someone who doesn’t know you used an alternative. When thinking grain-free think nut crust. Check out this recipe here. If you are looking for a simple pumpkin pie recipe with a more traditional grain crust – check this out.
What to AVOID: Pre-packaged pie crusts. These are very processed with additives for shelf life. Be sure to buy organic pumpkin puree/filling only. You can spice that yourself. Additives always make their way in with spices.
Just because it is the holiday season, doesn’t mean we can’t eat delicious foods that are healthy and nutritious without compromising flavor. Remember, spices, spices, spices, healthy fat sources like olive oil, grass-fed butter, and lots of vegetables will make a great meal!