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Thanksgiving ideas Part Two: Side Dishes

Last year I did a whole "side dish mania" series (which you can search up and see). Rosemary posted a fabulous mushroom and leek stuffing recipe, I posted a brussels sprouts slaw recipe that even got the approval of the Perrine household!

This year, we're making the whole meal for the family in TN (Except for the turkeys. Scottie will be cooking up (usually over 100) turkeys on the smoker for their church fundraiser). that sure is a lot of tryptophan....So, except for the turkeys, in essence, we have ball in hand!

As there is not really a "typical" Thanksgiving table, for those lucky souls who just get to show up to the Thanksgiving dinner table and chow, let's talk about some of the side dish items you may be offered:

- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potatoes or yams (baked, mashed, candied)
- Green bean casserole, or sauteed green beans
- Cranberry sauce
- Brussels sprouts
- Broccoli casserole
- Salad
- Roasted winter vegetables
- ParkerHouse Rolls, breads, etc.
- Macaroni and cheese
- Stuffing/dressing

Worst offenders...what say you all? Well, of course, it's a matter of opinion, and where you are with your food choices. For me, my "I don't really need or want to spend my calories on" list would include the mashed (white) potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls/bread, and stuffing/dressing that is made with typical bread (and I LOVE stuffing). I've found out way too much this past year that my insides just don't like gluten. The others - sure, they may be made with some sugar and/or "non-paleo" items (Campbell's soup being one of them), but for me - personally - my body is usually okay. However, when ingredient lists include things I can't pronounce, I tend to shy away. But that is just ME - So what about you? Does your body freak out big time to sugars? If so, you might want to choose to avoid those things like the cranberry blob out of a can. Maybe opt to make your own with minimal sugar. Does gluten cause you to break out, become gassy and miserable? Then steer clear. Will your life be over if you don't have a few bites of mac and cheese? Then eat some for crying out loud! But own your decision. Go back to some of Ndiya's postings about out "rules" and "guidelines" set up for ourselves, and come up with your own set that will get you through Thanksgiving without getting too neurotic. No one likes neuroses around the holidays - most families have enough of that already!

Let's talk about some recipes that our Type A (decent cook) and Tybe B (scared s***less in the kitchen) folks can bring to a Thanksgiving soiree.

First, Type B:
I know that for some families, sweet potato casserole with the mini marshmallows is a an ages-long tradition. I challenge you to shake things up a bit, and STEP AWAY FROM THE MARSHMALLOWS. Especially for those of you on a paleo path-you know that marshmallows are not natural foods, and are full of sugar. Besides, hasn't your taste for sugar changed over time? Here's a simple, tasty, sweet potato casserole recipe:

Sweet Potato Casserole redo
- About 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks, steamed for 20 minutes then mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- juice from one orange
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4 - 1 cup crushed pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes with all ingredients except pecans. Place in casserole dish, and top with pecans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until firm. If you absolutely positively MUST have this sweeter, then add some honey to the potatoes. You can also decrease the amount of coconut milk and add in some melted grassfed organic butter to the potatoes if you'd like. 

For our Type A folks, we have so many options! 
Our friends at everydaypaleo.com and whole9life.com posted some great stuffing recipes (without the bread). I made a quick loaf of almond flour/almond butter bread that certainly could work (adapted from an Elana Amsterdam recipe, but did 3/4 cup almond/cashew butter, to that added 4 egg whites that were whipped until soft peaks formed, along with 4 egg yolks, then added 1/4 cup blanched almond flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Baked at 350 for about 40 minutes). Anyway, hindsight being 20-20, I would have added some poultry seasoning to the bread to infuse more of the flavor for the stuffing. But I really think between Rosemary's awesome mushroom/leek stuffing recipe from last year, and what Sarah at everydaypaleo and Melissa at Whole 9 posted, you won't need bread at all.  
The food that I am addicted to now, and want to inspire all of you to play with: Brussels Sprouts. Why? Well, you will convert people from despising them to loving them in one meal. Secondly, they are incredibly healthy. From Wikipedia: "Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anti-cancer compounds, steaming, microwaving, and stir frying does not result in significant loss. Brussels sprouts are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells." Trust me when I say I used to think that Brussels sprouts were sulphuric smelling nasty-ness, that I would not touch with a 10 foot pole. By sauteeing the sprouts, you have a much better chance of avoiding the sulphur-ish smell, and not overcooking these brassicas. Here's a redo of the recipe I posted last year.

- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, and shredded
- 4 pieces no nitrite/nitrate bacon
- 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans 
 Fry bacon in large skillet until crispy. Drain on paper towels and crumble, reserving some of the bacon grease in the pan. If using mushrooms, add first, and sauté until slightly softened, then add Brussels sprouts and sauté until golden brown and softened. 

Meanwhile, combine the mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice, then whisk in olive oil. Toss dressing into sprouts, and stir in pecans and bacon. Salt and pepper to taste. 

This dish is also tasty with some chopped up Granny smith apples, some dried cranberries, etc. 

What is YOUR go-to side dish? What are you going to be sure to try and/or avoid this year? What new creation will you add to your holiday menu? 

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Reader Comments (12)

Thanks Jules! I'm totally gonna make this for Thanksgiving since I just started liking sprouts this year.

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreedom Karyn

I fell in love with sprouts this year, too! I'm in charge of desserts and veggies this year and I was looking for some awesome recipes... thanks, Jules!

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreedom Anna

Desserts will come next Anna!

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Not only does the Perrine household LOVE the brussel sprout slaw, but Matt actually gets in the kitchen and makes this one! We'll be making again this year to share with the Mugs. Other items on the menu so far include homemade cranberry sauce, mashed cauliflower, something with sweet potatoes, turkey, apple crumble for dessert and various appetizers since Kmugs hearts appetizers.

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCria

Another sweet potato mod: crushed pineapple (fresh or 1 can, no syrup obviously), 4-5 sweet potatoes, and 1 can of natural whole cranberry sauce (or make your own - boil water with cranberries and add some agave or honey). Cook the potatoes, puree or mash them, mix in the rest of the ingredients, add a healthy dose of cinnamon (1 T is a good start), put in baking pan, dust top with cinnamon, and bake for 40 mins at 350. You can add butter or coconut milk if desired, too, and more spices - nutmeg, cloves, etc. Sprinkle top with crushed pecans if desired. Yum!

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne J

Um, did anyone else notice the "Meal of the Day" widget? Beacuse that thing is AWESOME!

November 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Hey Everyone, we begin another BTB45 Challenge today. Email me: melissa @ btbfitness.com to get your food log if you are interested. Not doing all the bells and whistles this time, just the food log.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

I LOVE the new Meal of the Day addition. Awesome way to get fresh ideas for meals. I tend to get stuck in a rut. I tried the recipe from a couple of days ago for Cauliflower and Mushroom stuffing. I highly recommend it! We made it last night and it was just absolutely delicious. I had it for breakfast this morning too and it's even more lovely a day later.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary_Freedom

My family is doing a "destination" holiday in the mountains and I am in charge of breakfast one of the mornings. I want to make two Frittatas. I only see one recipe on the site. Are there any other good recipes out there anyone wants to share?

Oh and make sure it can be done without a sharp object...I am with family and may use it. Ha.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristy F.

Hey Christy - I did a search for frittata and I found a few references:

Basically you can add whatever you want to a frittata and have it turn out tasty. We took some pulled pork and combined that with eggs and a bunch of sauteed veggies and it was a tasty creation! If you want one to be a frittata, you could always do the other as "egg cupcakes."

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Thanks Jules. I must have typed the name wrong or something. Pulled port in a frittata sounds really good. One will be with that for sure.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristy F.

Absolutely this is unique.-A.Dunhill watches conusWhenever I look at your blog.I feel myself in another world.Thank you.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel A. Wood

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