Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Gird your loins, cuz this is one long paleo party.  I am going to preface these recipes by reinforcing that this is a Thanksgiving Meal.  Capital Tee capital Em.  While I follow a Paleo diet and agree with the idea of keeping the usage of things like honey and clarified butter to a minimum, as far as I'm concerned they are quite welcome in a setting such as this.  It's Thanksgiving, not an every day occasion.  So if you prefer not to use them, more power to ya.  You could substitute coconut oil and/or just deal with no sweetness in your pumpkin pie.  But I promise you the flavors will sing if you make the following as listed.

I was really excited to plan this dinner and went back and forth on trying certain things, but ended up with the following menu:

The Turkey, and onions
Sweet Potato Stuffing
Yams & Apples
Brussel Sprouts with bacon, celery root and onions
Garlicky Green Beans
Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Baked Apples
Coconut Milk Ice cream

You will probably be familiar with many of the above recipes but perhaps not all of them.  I grew up having the Yams & Apples (family recipe y'all) and hope you'll find it an excellent substitution for your usual yams, especially if you're used them being donned with marshmallows.  The turkey is for the most part, your typical turkey, but I added a bit of my own flair to it.  It is important to note that I started preparing this meal the day before, and I have posted the recipes below in order of how I prepared them.  I also have two ovens in my home, so if you were to cook all of the above it may take some extra planning work to get it all done.

Lastly, I was so excited to eat once the food was all done, and by how well it came out, that I completely forgot to take pictures of the dishes.  L.A.M.E. I know.  Isn't the whole point of this to show you how to prepare a paleo thanksgiving of your own?  And what's a recipe without pictures?  Ugh.  Luckily I have awesome friends who took a few pictures for me, but you'll just have to trust me and the 12 people I had over for dinner, that everything is scrumptious.  I mean flat out tasty.  Can I say that about my own food?  Cuz I just did.  If you try any of these recipes, please let me know how you liked them! 

To Do The Day Before:

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

1 - 15 oz can organic pumpkin (not the pie filling - helloooo sugar!)
1 - 15oz can regular coconut milk, not lite
Scant 1/2 cup dark agave nectar (scant means a little less than)*
2 small eggs, or 1 jumbo
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
few shakes of cloves, pinch of salt

*I used dark agave nectar.  I've also seen agave that was clear, and I'm sure that would be good too, but I thought the darker one gave it more of a molasses-type flavor, reminiscent of gingerbread when it's all said and done.  Honey would work too if you're all out of agave.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, coconut milk and agave nectar.  Mix well with a whisk.  Add in the eggs and whisk to blend.  Then add in the spices and whisk again.  Pour into a 9-inch pie plate greased with coconut oil, and bake for about 70-75 minutes.  The pie is done when the edges are dark and set, and the center isn't too jiggly.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.  Refrigerate overnight.

Important Note: towards the end my pie was bubbling and looked like craters might be forming.  This is okay.  No, your typical pumpkin pie doesn't look like the moon or volcanic eruptions, but it will still taste awesome.  Maybe this means I needed to turn the temperature down, but then it would have taken longer to bake :).  I also successfully doubled the recipe above, while decreasing the eggs to 3 small and cooked it in a 9x13 baking pan for about 80 minutes.  Check it every 5-7 minutes after the first 60 just in case. 

Baked Apples

Just a time saver tip...while the crustless pumpkin pie is baking, begin coring the apples and mixing the filling, especially if you have only one oven.  You can easily double the baked apple recipe, you just may end up with a little extra filling.  You will be thankful, trust me on this one.  I had extra filling (I made 10 apples) and happily ate it the following day for breakfast.  Tasted like cookie dough, no joke.

After baking the apples I let them cool to room temp and then placed them all on a baking sheet in the fridge.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

1 - 12oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 large orange
Honey to taste (about 1/3 cup or more)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour in the cranberries and get them warmed up.  Then zest the orange and add into the pan.  Juice the orange and add this into the pan as well.  Stir to combine and continue stirring occasionally until the cranberries are really cooking.  They will start to pop and kind of fall apart.  This is good.  After stirring for about 8 minutes, cover the berries and let cook over low for another 10 minutes.  If the berries look real dry, add a splash of water before covering.  Then, add in the honey to taste.  Start with 1/4 cup and go up as needed.  I like to keep it tart for a taste contrast with all the other food, but if you're accustomed to the slice-and-go canned variety you may add a smidge more.  Then stir well and continue to cook another few minutes more and take off of the heat.  Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate over night.

To Do The Day Of:

The Turkey, and onions

I will admit that this was my first time cooking my very own Thanksgiving Turkey.  It was a bit of a daunting task, mostly because I had never cooked anything that massive before.  I worried that I wouldn't have enough time to get it cooked, and ended up having a bit too much time, if you know what I mean...  I went here to get basic instructions on cooking a good turkey, and changed it up a bit.  In my worry of not having enough time to cook I put the turkey in an hour early, and it actually cooked a bit longer than it needed to.  It was still delicious, but if I'd stuck to the instructions on that site it would have been perfect.  However, I took the turkey out an hour before we started to eat, and that was perfect timing.  The turkey was still warm but not too hot when we ate it, and for those of you with one oven that will work out perfectly for baking the yams and stuffing after you take the bird out.

1 - 20lb Turkey, thawed that same site tells you how to thaw it out properly also
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons mulling spices, divided
salt and pepper
4 large white onions, quartered

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and make sure the neck, giblets and any other surprises are removed from BOTH ENDS of the bird.  Momma didn't raise no foo' but that doesn't mean we all know where to look for these things.  In a small bowl mix the coconut oil with 2 T of the mulling spices and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  With your hands, separate the skin from the breast of the turkey, trying not to break the skin.  Since my bird was so large I separated half from one side and then turned it around and separated half from the other side of the breast.  Then take your coconut oil mixture and rub this between the skin and the breast meat.  Try to get the mulling spices evenly distributed if you can.  If it looks like you have enough of the mixture on the bird and have leftover, just spread it inside the bird cavity.

Next, shake some sea salt and pepper all over the skin of the bird and rub it in a little with your hands.

Place the bird in a large baking pan with a rack, boobs up, and bake in the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes.  (In my oven, it would only fit on the lower rack).  Watch the oven for the last 5-7 minutes of these 20, as it may begin to smoke out of the oven.  Just open the oven a crack and continue cooking a few more minutes.  Then immediately lower the temperature to 250 degrees and continue cooking for another 20 minutes for each pound of bird.  I know, I know, this temperature seems incredibly low.  But it really produces a moist, tasty bird.

*When the bird has one hour to go for cooking time, add the quartered onions underneath the rack of the turkey along with the remaining 1 tablespoon mulling spices.  Drop it all right into the juices from the turkey, and continue cooking for that last hour.  If you don't have a pan with a rack, just put the onions around the turkey as best you can.

When the turkey's done (between 170-180 degrees) pull it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool.  Before serving, remove the rack or turkey, and spoon out the onions into a serving bowl along with some of the juices.  Try to remove the big pieces of mulling spices, and just let your guests know to take them off their plates :).

Yams & Apples
The Yams & Apples are in the middle of the above picture.  They aren't fancy, but they are gooooood.

3 large yams (the orange ones)
3 red rome apples*
splash of lemon juice - bottled is fine
6 tablespoons clarified butter, preferably pastured (plus a little to grease the pan)
1/3 cup honey

*These are the deep red ones you only find this time of year.  They are not good for eating like other apples since they are very soft and a bit grainy.  But they are very sweet and awesome for baking.  If you can't find them, other sweet apples will do (no granny smith).

 (If you have one oven then begin this dish when you have about 2 hrs before you plan to eat, and 1 hour of turkey cooking time - allowing 1 hour for the bird to rest while you use the oven).

Cut the yams in half, and place in a large pot of boiling water.  Cook until they are soft on the outside but still a bit firm in the middle, about 20 minutes.  Drain and let them cool so you can easily handle them.

While the yams are cooking, core the apples and slice them into rounds about 1/3 inch thick.  Splash the apples with lemon juice and set aside.  When the yams are cool, remove the peel and slice them into 1/3 inch rounds.

In a 9x13 glass baking pan, coat the bottom with clarified butter.  Place the yam slices on the bottom in an even layer, and top with apple slices.  Repeat one more time to have two alternating layers each of both yams and apples.  In a small mixing bowl whisk together the butter and honey along with another splash of lemon juice, until combined.  Pour this over the yams and apples and set aside to begin baking when you have 60 minutes before you plan to eat.  Then bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes (detailed out below in the stuffing recipe since you'll be cooking them at the same time if you have one oven).

Sweet Potato Stuffing

When I originally planned to do a Paleo Thanksgiving meal, I was going to avoid an attempt at making stuffing.  I didn't think anything would resemble stuffing made with bread, and just wasn't very excited about it.  Then someone had to ask me what I was going to make for stuffing, and I had to go for it.  Mission accomplished.  Trust me when I say that this has all the flavors of stuffing.  It tastes just like the stuffing I grew up with, and BONUS, won't make you feel like you have a brick in your stomach afterwards.

3 large sweet potatoes (the white ones)
4 chicken apple sausages, cooked
2 stalks of celery, halved lengthwise and chopped small
2 braeburn apples, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped into bite sized pieces
Turkey stock (or juices from the turkey pan)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
sea salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Toss in a mixing bowl with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and pour onto a large baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside.  Turn them over after 10 minutes.

Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the rest.

While the taters are baking, in a small saute pan add the chopped onion with a little olive oil and cook until they begin to carmelize - 10 minutes.  Cut the sausages into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add the celery and apples and toss.  Then add in the taters, thyme, sage and turkey stock/juices, and toss carefully with a spoon, trying not to break the sweet potato pieces too much.  Shake a little salt and pepper in there and pour into an oven-proof baking pan with a cover that can go in the oven.  I used a ceramic pot that you see in the above picture - the white one.

At this point you should be about 1 hour out from eating, give or take.  Set your oven to 350 degrees and place the Yams & Apples on one side of the middle rack, and the stuffing pan on the other side.  Bake both of them uncovered for 20 minutes.  After 25 minutes place the cover on the stuffing, leaving the yams uncovered.  Continue baking them both another 35 minutes or until the apples are slightly browned.  Remove both from the oven and allow to cool briefly before digging in.

For the Brussels I began cutting off the ends and slicing in half about 1 hour before we planned to eat - so...after you stick the yams and sweet potatoes in the oven.  While slicing you can cook the bacon on the stove and flip in-between cutting and washing sprouts.  This will also give you time to peel and chop the celery root if you aren't using leftovers.  I actually used 2 cups of leftover celery root/onion mixture from a few weeks ago, that I had put into a ziplock bag and frozen.  So take note, it freezes well :)

Cut the brussels and cook the bacon at the 1 hour marker, but wait to cook them until 30 minutes before you plan to eat, following the cooking directions in the link.

Garlicky Green Beans

This is very, very basic.  I wanted to get one more veggie in the dinner since green beans are a typical staple, and not everyone likes brussell sprouts.  

1.5 pounds haricot verts (fancy for thin green beans)
3 T. clarified butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
sea salt and pepper

Wash and trim the green beans.  

In a large saute pan (large enough to hold all the beans) heat the butter with the garlic.  Add in the green beans and cover, cooking 3-4 minutes.  Uncover and stir the beans around in the butter, and continue cooking until the beans are crisp-done.  Salt and pepper them and serve for consumption!!
The above picture is of everything but the pie and baked apples on one plate.  Clockwise from top left: Yams & Apples, The Turkey and onions, Sweet Potato Stuffing, Garlicky Green Beans, Brussel Sprouts with Celery Root and Onions.  Looks like they forgot the cranberry sauce!  Doh!  I know it's a little cramped on that plate, but we had to fit it all on there! :)


  1. OK, Amy - now I cannot WAIT for Thanksgiving! I am going to make all of this delicious-sounding food - thanks for the recipes! I really have wanted to stay paleo for the holidays... and now I can.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Sister!

  2. Thanks Susan! Hope you like the food as much as we did :) Happy Thanksgiving!