We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Christi Flaherty, private chef who also happens to be our Aledo host! Learn more about Christi in her bio at the bottom of this post.
Holiday season!!! Who doesn’t love the festivities of this six weeks. Starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through all the Hanukah and/or Christmas parties and then the big New Years festivities, it’s the make or break for many people’s healthy lifestyles.
Every year at this time, those of us who have chosen to eat whole foods and even go so far as to eat closer to our ancestors, i.e. the Paleo diet, find ourselves bombarded by super sugar sweets and overly processed foods when visiting family or attending holiday buffets and parties. You certainly could just give in and then swing back on January 1 with a new years’ resolution. That’s one option, but not one your body will be happy with. Instead, I want to offer you some alternatives to help you stay on the (mostly) straight and narrow during this festive season and make sure that when the new year rolls around you can build on what you’ve already done instead of having to start over.
You’re the guest in someone’s home
The best way to handle this is to try and contribute to holiday meals and parties by creating healthy, whole-food dishes that you can share. (You might even convert some people in the process!)
I plan to do this next week when we go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. The pantries at my mother- and sister-in-laws’ houses look like the interior of a grocery store. Boxes upon boxes of cake mixes, processed foods and cans of premade foods and vegetables. Without me having any say in what is served, my clean diet suddenly gets doused with canned creamed soups, large doses of high fructose corn syrup and gluten galore.
To combat this and save my gut the overload, I do several things:
- Have coconut water, greens and frozen fruit on hand to make simple, daily smoothies and start my day with a dose of healthy produce.
- Take premade, grain free versions of my favorite holiday foods (dressing, pies and appetizers – like the recipe below)
- Contribute to the Thanksgiving meal by picking up fresh vegetables and offering to make a couple of sides
You are going to a party and you don’t have the leeway to bring food or you are going to a party at a restaurant.
- Take a bag of roasted nuts and dried fruit to fill in if you are at a party and are not finding enough to eat.
- Look for roasted meats and fresh produce if you are faced with a buffet. While they probably are not the pasture-raised, organic or heirloom quality you are typically eating, they at least are whole foods.
- If given the opportunity, at least let the host know you would rather not have gluten or dairy or any other foods to which you are truly sensitive and ask if there will be an alternative.
- If the menu will be open to order, look at the menu online ahead of time or ask the host if there is a special menu for the evening that you can preview. This way you can have some ideas of what you can order.
- Above all, make sure and eat a high protein snack an hour or less before going so you will not be starving in case there are not tons of options. You are more likely to give in and eat whatever is available if you are starving. The next day you will regret it, so plan ahead.
I am happy to share with you one of my favorite make ahead appetizers and is easily portable to take to as your contribution to a party, a high protein snack to munch on before your Christmas gala, or to take on the road for breakfast any time of the year.
Paleo Sausage Balls
Depending on what level of Paleo you are doing, you can choose to use the cheese as listed, or you can leave it out. The difference will be found in the amount of dough since the cheese stretches it a bit. As listed you will be make about 3 dozen 1” sausage balls. Without the cheese, there will be only about 2 dozen. You can make these ahead by baking them until they register 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer then reheating just before serving until golden brown.
1 c almond flour
½ c potato or tapioca starch
½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
12 oz sausage (preferably pasture-raised chicken or pork)
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 oz finely shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk to break up any lumps.
- Using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, mix in remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
- Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet using a 1” ice cream scoop or two spoons.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until very brown.
- Serve warm.
Christi Flaherty is a private chef and creator of Tablavie, a website dedicated to a lifestyle of eating real food and living simply. To get more recipes perfect for the holidays, like these sausage balls, click here to purchase Christi’s e-book Holidays and Beyond (Paleo-ized!). To have paleo recipes sent to your inbox regularly (And receive a FREE e-book), visit Tablavie.com and sign up in the box on the right that says “email address” and click subscribe button.