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Thursday
Nov112010

Thanksgiving is just around the corner...Part One: Appetizers

If your stated goal is to eat as healthy as possible through the holidays, then MY stated goal is to provide you with some ideas, tips and recipes to help you achieve that goal. While most of these postings will be geared more for those following the Paleo path, the same principles, tips and ideas are relevant to Zoners or those following the BootCamp plan too! For those of you asked to bring food to the Thansgiving gathering, perhaps these postings will inspire you to do something new and exciting while also tantalizing those taste buds.

For purposes of these blogs, we'll talk about 2 distinct people:
Type A: aka "I'll Try Anything Once" - and I have no problem cooking
Type B: aka Holy S*** You Mean I Have To Cook Something - and I'm a super picky eater

Whether Type A or B, if you don't have to make a thing and get to just show up, let's talk about some of the appetizers that are good solid choices for you to nosh on:
- Shrimp cocktail
- Veggies (just beware the dip, as many these days have all kinds of additives and stuff)
- Deviled eggs (solid protein choice, might have conventional mayo, but a far better choice than baskets of crackers)
- Satay or kabobs of meats and veggies
- Prosciutto wrapped melon, apricots, etc.
- Spiced nuts (sometimes there's a little sugar or something in there, but if they are homemade won't have all the preservatives and what not).
- Smoked salmon on cucumber rounds.
- Olives and nuts are always good choices! My grandpa used to always have a big bowl of nuts in their shells (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts) where you'd have to crack your own to eat them. Makes you have to work for your food!

Let's say you have to cook something/bring something. We'll start with our Type A personas:
let's get creative: Fall is perfect time for butternut and acorn squash. Contrary to popular belief, soup does not have to be simply served in a big bowl or tureen. Why not make a batch of butternut squash soup, and serve in shot glasses that have been collecting dust since your crazy tequila days? We used to do this with soups all the time in my catering days.  Here's an incredibly easy one from the Food Network. If you are trying to keep dairy completely out of your life, use olive oil or coconut oil instead of the butter. For garnish, try some browned sage leaves or crumbled bacon. I also love butternut squash soup that has a bit of curry hint. So this is more of a carb-centric app.  

Clams casino at our weddingFor a more protein-centric app, you could always go to bacon wrapped scallops. SUPER fast and easy. Or, you could adopt a Sullivan family tradition: My family always sat around the coffee table and devoured Clams Casino - never the kind with breadcrumbs though! These have been a family tradition since I can remember. I've yet to see this recipe anything like what my family made (to the point where I sent the catering crew for our wedding this recipe and asked them to make it - sadly, I only got one clam). Our recipe: take about 1 pound of littleneck clams - cleaned and shucked (go here for the how to) remaining on the half shell. In a small pan, saute up equal parts green pepper, onions, and jarred pimentos until al dente. You can also saute up in some white wine. Place pepper/onion mixture on clams, take a small piece of bacon - place on top of each clam half. Broil in the oven until bacon is crispy. Super easy, and not something you see everyday.

Of course you could always make any of the above mentioned app ideas too (deviled eggs, spiced nuts make a lovely hostess gift too, etc.).

For our Type B person who is scared of the kitchen, let's make this really easy:
- Shrimp cocktail. Look for a cocktail sauce with minimal preservatives. Might not be perfect paleo, but a very healthy choice. Apps (including the prosciutto wrapped asparagus) we served last year at the BTB Vinings open house
-  Say you actually want to make something. Prosciutto wrapped asparagus. Sure, it might make some people's pee sme ll funny, but the salty sweet is totally worth it. Here's the basic how-to: Preheat oven to 400degrees. Wash about 1 pound of asparagus (I prefer thin stalks over thick), and cut or break off the woody stem end. Wrap 2-3 stalks in 1 small piece of prosciutto, and place on a sheet pan. Repeat with all asparagus. Sprinkle bundles with fresh cracked pepper. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until asparagus has softened.  

These are just a few ideas. Let's hear from you though: what apps are you looking forward to enjoying this Thanksgiving? What apps will you avoid? What apps will you choose to enjoy, no matter the ingredients or any "non-healthy" designation? Some of you have been doing this Paleo stuff just as long as the rest of us. What tasty treats have you devised as apps? What did you enjoy most or struggle most with last year?

Of course, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and we want each one of you to enjoy them to the fullest. Own your food (and alcohol!) decisions - whatever they are - and enjoy the time with family and friends!

 

 

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Reader Comments (6)

Jules...I love this post. It's so good to be reminded of the simple things you can do to keep the holidays healthy, but still fun. I can't wait to try your clams casino recipe...that sounds awesome.

I have a couple other appetizers that I've tried that people seem to love. The first one is BACON WRAPPED PECAN STUFFED DATES. Very yummy...although because of the sugar in the dates it's best to limit yourself to two of these per person.
The other recipe is for Spaghetti Squash Fritters (I guess these could also be a side, but they make a nice appy too). the recipes are below.

By the way....I ALWAYS was a Type B person...I never cooked, but through our various Paleo challenges and this blog I have learned so many easy tricks for making healthy, paleo friendly meals quickly.

BACON WRAPPED PECAN STUFFED DATES

Ingredients: (adjust for the amount of people you have, usually plan on 2-3 per person)
Whole Pitted Dates
Roasted Pecan Halves
Uncured Bacon (raw) sliced in 1/2 or 1/3 to fit around date

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400
Place a pecan piece inside each date. Wrap date in a piece of bacon and secure with a tooth pick Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes (start checking them when it gets close). The bacon should be cooked and crisp-ish. Serve Hot!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH FRITTERS (serves 2)

Ingredients
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash or 1/2 of a whole spaghetti squash)
1/3 cup almond meal
1 cup chopped onion/scallion/veggies
1 egg
1 TBSP olive oil

Directions
1. Combine squash, almond meal flour, onion, and egg in large bowl and mix to combine
2. Heat some of the olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat
3. Start making mini fritters (makes about 10 small pancakes) and add to pan
4. Cook on each side for about 7 minutes, or until cooked to desired crispness and sturdy enough to flip

November 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary_Freedom

Thanks for the ideas! Here are a couple of apps I've made recently that are really yummy!

Here's an app that I absolutely love (and my non-paleo family does too).

Belgian Endive with Bacon, Avocado and Pistachios
It's super easy, chop cooked bacon and avocado and toast the pistachios. Use the Endive leaves as little baskets to hold the bacon, pistachios and avocado. The avocado gives you the creamy texture of a dip and the endive is really crunchy.

I also made a mushroom dip that I served with vegetable chips.

The dip is chopped portabello mushrooms (I used 1 pint of caps) and two cloves of garlic sauteed in olive oil. After the mushrooms are tender mix in about a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Before serving I mixed in a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.

November 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChantel

love this post too b/c i am always trying to think of apps beyond carbs :) we did bacon wrapped scallops this past weekend and recently made butternut squash soup.....though hadnt thought about as shots!

speaking of kabobs - also recently made sausage and peppers skewers as an app....dont usually think about putting sausage on a stick but it was awesome (since its an app leave out the couscous and we used pork):

\http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/sausage-and-pepper-skewers-recipe/index.html

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren P

I just came across your health and fitness blog. Your article about Thanksgiving appetizers was especially interesting. I especially liked your comments about the recipes and though they are healthier, they are still delicious and fitting for the holiday season. I am adding you to my favorites. We're in the same industry, the business of encouraging health and fitness. We market a product called The AbStand: http://www.theabstand.net. We would love for you and your readers to check out our ab workout product. Any feedback would be appreciated as well. Thanks!

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElise Lowerison

Julie, you made my day when I saw this topic. We've had so many snickers thanks to a lack of trick or treaters, we're ready to get back on the train. (great timing, huh?)

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

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December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCookie

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