Thanksgiving Mostly Clean Eating

Brian and I have been hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house for a few years now. We have the most space so it just seemed to make sense for us to take everyone in here (plus, we have the most kids and I’m not trying to cart them around on Christmas!). Over the years we have kind of gotten it figured out, as much as you really can. I do a lot of cooking and prep leading up to the day so that I’m not spending all day cooking and missing out on family time. Having half the dishes already made before Thanksgiving is ultra helpful. Also, our meals have gotten a little more complex since we have been on our limited grains and sugar journey. Gone are the days of boxed anything and cans of gravy.

You know how everyone seems to have their quintessential Thanksgiving dishes? Well, we try to accommodate those as much as we can but also add in healthy options for us. For example, Brian is a huge mashed potato fan and we rarely have them so on Thanksgiving and Christmas I make a lot of them. Everyone else seems to enjoy them as well so that dish doesn’t get modified. In case you are wondering the best way to make the mashed potatoes is in the slow cooker.

On the other hand, I do make multiple stuffing versions. One fairly regular version (except that I make my own bread crumbs because that boxed stuff is no bueno!). The second is one for my family and is never quite the same. In the past I’ve made an almond flour bread stuffing, this year I created one with sweet potato, onions, celery, and a granola that I flavored to be like stuffing. The stuffings are made in advance so we’ve taste tested them. After three years of being mostly grain-free I didn’t even like the regular stuffing (where is all the flavor?! Why do I only taste bread?!). I used to be a die-hard stuffing fan. Eat all the stuffing! And the girls said they didn’t care for the regular stuffing much either, except for the veggies in it. =)

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There is always a big salad filled with vegetables. We are also having roasted vegetables. It depends on what I have on hand but this year we are having roasted green beans and chard (so many green beans, yay!). No dinner rolls. It always seems that people get the dinner roll and can’t ever finish it, so I’ve decided I’m not wasting my efforts. I make my own gravy and am still perfecting the recipe. I follow one from Rachael Ray and sometimes it works better than others (I have real gravy issues!).

I married into a family that has both turkey and ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas so we stick with that. It’s a lot of meat and makes me sick to think about it but I fear there would be a revolt if both them weren’t present. To top the meat I’ve become a fan of cranberry sauce. I never ate cranberry sauce when I was younger but once I started making my own (recipe here) I converted to a cranberry sauce lover.

Those are the key dinner items. Occasionally, someone will bring something like macaroni and cheese or green bean casserole. We welcome people to bring whatever they may want and I TRY to limit how much the kiddos get of these other items.

Dessert has always been my favorite part and we don’t skimp here. There are multiple pies and other desserts for the after dinner spread. This year I kept it fairly simple. I made THE Ultimate Holiday Pie, grain-free and refined sugar-free! Using this grain-free honey graham cracker crust, subbing honey for the sugar in the cheesecake layer, this pumpkin pie, and the pecan pie topping from here. The healthy version came out beautifully and I’m hoping for no complaints about the lack of sugar. I just wanted to be able to eat this lovely creation and not feel sick. In addition to pie we are having fruit salad (chopped up fruits stirred in with homemade honey sweetened  whipped cream), and these cake batter truffles (also grain and refined sugar free).

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Before dinner we snack on vegetables and hummus and this year I made spiced bar nuts. The nuts were a huge hit last year and when I made them earlier this week we were loving the preview.

While I don’t necessarily love making the multiple versions of foods I am excited that this year I have converted all the dessert to be edible for my family. And that despite the mashed potatoes and the regular stuffing the rest of the food fits right into our eating style. I dream of the day when I can say that about all the food on the table. Small steps for now. We have come a long way from Thanksgivings past.

New Recipes Are Fun

Can I just say how much fun I’m having with the recipes in the Against All Grain Cookbook?! I’ve been making my way through some of the recipes, quite successfully. Oh no! It makes me want to actually have the cookbook instead of borrow it from the library. But I’ve already done that recently with a cookbook so no more cookbook buying for me in the near future. (Santa do you hear me?)

I made the Allergy-Free Breakfast cookies. Oh my, they were so good it was hard to remember that they were a healthy breakfast option. They tasted like such a treat, especially warmed up.

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I adapted the recipe slightly to use pumpkin puree instead of the banana and added pumpkin pie spices to give them that seasonal flavor. They ended up being quite soft and needed to be handled with care. The cookies are made with coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sweetened with dates and applesauce.

Next on the list is chocolate swirl banana bread. The chocolate swirl was my own addition since it is our family’s favorite version of banana bread. But the base recipe for this banana bread was incredible! Grain-free, sugar-free banana bread that actually tastes like traditional banana bread! I’ve made grain-free banana breads before but they were too dense and just not quite what I was looking for in a banana bread. This recipe has mostly coconut flour in it and a little almond flour (and 4 eggs!). The bananas add most of the sweetness.

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Delicious slices of banana bread!

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We sprinkled the top of the loaf with mini chocolate chips to give it a special chocolate bonus. The bread is so moist and banana flavored. Chocolate swirl = excellent addition

I even packed some for Izzy to take as lunch one day this week. Since it’s filled with wholesome ingredients I don’t even feel bad about making it the main portion of her lunch:

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No Oatmeal Porridge

Weekday breakfasts are tough! It doesn’t matter what time I get up, I always end up in a breakfast crunch. And there are too many things to do at night to make breakfast ahead of time consistently. I do try to do that a few times a week but I like to feed my family a variety and pre-made breakfasts rely on having the same thing multiple times a week. No fun!

I tried a new breakfast recipe yesterday morning (adventurous for a weekday morning)! And I loved it! The recipe was for a grain-free coconut porridge. My girls love their porridges. They like grits, cream of rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, steel-cut oats, etc, etc.

Ever notice how traditional breakfast foods are so grain heavy? Like that is the only option other than eggs for breakfast. I do make a lot of eggs for Brian’s breakfast and the girls partake in that as well. But they really like their oatmeal and such. In fact, I’d say most people will tell you they can’t give up their morning oatmeal. Enter the No-Oat Porridge. It is grain-free, and sugar-free and can be completely nut-free (if you use coconut milk or other alternative)!

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This porridge was simple enough for weekday morning prep. It is made of almond milk, coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and an egg (or a banana if you want to be egg free). I made the version with an egg to add some extra creaminess but maybe next time I’ll experiment with the banana. The texture is similar to any creamed cereal (wheat, rice, etc).  I topped the porridge with toasted almonds, dried cranberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and dash of maple syrup. Both girls had a hard time finishing their portion, it was so filling. So we saved some and they were thrilled to have it again the next morning. Even I had some as my breakfast forgoing my usual greens (oh, missed opportunity, I should have added some to it!).

Looks like oatmeal without the oats is possible and satisfying.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies have been my favorite cookie for a long, long time. I have very fond memories of making the dough and eating a very good portion of it before it was even in the oven. I’ve also been known to mix up peanut butter cookie dough and eat it on its own with no intention of baking it. Something about peanut butter just gets me. Even now I will mix up something resembling peanut butter cookie batter and eat it with a spoon. Granted these days my cookie dough indulgences don’t have the grains or the sugar of my past indulgences but I’m just as satisfied.

Since going grain and sugar-free I have not attempted a plain peanut butter cookie recipe. Oh we’ve eaten peanut butter in our cookies but always with other things as well: chickpeas, chocolate chips, almonds, etc. All very yummy but not the same as my classic favorite. Last night, I took on the challenge of recreating my beloved peanut butter cookies.

There are lots of recipes floating around the internet for grain-free peanut butter cookies. All of them use a ton of peanut butter and some eggs. I came across this recipe which uses coconut flour as well as eggs and a reasonable amount of peanut butter (can’t use up all my homemade peanut butter on a few cookies!). Well, I combined this recipe with another and played around until I liked the taste and texture of the dough. And boy did I like the taste of the dough! It brought me back to the old days.

Some cookies did make it into the oven to be baked. They were scrumptious warm from the oven. I even used a little leftover chocolate frosting to top a few for Brian. I, of course, preferred mine the old-fashioned way.

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Not too bad, right?! The taste was just right. After sitting for a day the coconut flour flavor comes through a little more but I wonder if that will disappear if they are reheated. Now, if I only I can remember how to recreate these the next time. Such is the problem with playing around with recipes and not writing it down. They will never turn out exactly the same again. If I get to eat more dough though, I don’t mind having to rework the recipe a few more times.