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.
For 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.
- 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!