Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Y’all!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday!  I absolutely LOVE the holiday’s, especially when we get to see our close family.  This year we hosted our second Thanksgiving.  It was quite an interesting experience for several reasons.  A) We have a REALLY small kitchen so it takes some planning and B) I wanted to have a paleo friendly meal which means that most of the ingredients were bought fresh only a few days in advance of the big day.  I shared the menu with you in this post and only hinted at the planning portion of it.  Well hang on for this one because it’s going to be loaded with planning tips, recipes, and the post meal workouts!!!

I had been so excited about this meal.  I was bound and determined to make it as paleo friendly as possible because I wanted my family to experience just how wonderful food can taste when it’s real and I did not want to spend another Thanksgiving suffering from the dreaded overstuffed, bloated, gassy feeling that we ALL get.  I started with the cooking plan on Tuesday, intially I wanted to get at least one of the casseroles cooked on Tuesday but between a chiropractor appointment and CrossFit I had to make some adjustments because there weren’t enough hours in the day.  So here is how the cooking panned out:

1.  Dry Brined Bird Preparation

1. Rotate bird in fridge

1. Sweet Potato Casserole

2. Tart Cran-apple Sauce (this dish makes a few special appearances of some of the other pictures, just look for the red stuff in a metal bowl)
3. Chocolate Pudding
4. Green Bean Casserole

I cooked the Sweet Potato Casserole first and popped that in the oven and then started to work on the cran-apple sauce (super easy by the way).  Once the cran-apple sauce was done it was about time to take out the sweet potatoe casserole, so I moved both of them off to the side and started on the chocolate pudding (super easy, again).  It took me about 1-1.5 hours from start to finish (aka cleaned dished and put them away) to make these three dishes.  I left the green bean casserole up to the hubs but it was done and ready to go come Thursday morning.

1. Paleo Cornbread Stuffing

2. Cauliflower

3. Corn
4. Mashed Potatoes
5. Banana Pudding
6. Collard Greens

7. Sauteed Apples

8. Turkey

9. Paleo Biscuits
10. Sawmill Gravy
11. Scrambled Eggs
12. Turkey Gravy

Thursday took a bit of perseverance.  I woke up at 6 am to begin cooking and man am I thankful that I did.  I found this awesome recipe for paleo cornbread stuffing over at the preppy paleo.  Man talk about to die for.  I modified it slightly, leaving out the apples and the cranberries/raisins.  I also decided to use my recipe for breakfast sausage from Old Faithful (Paleo Comfort Foods), I figured since I was cooking it anyway (for the Sawmill Gravy), then why not use it for the stuffing??  So after getting the stuffing going, I started on prepping the spices, onions, and apples for the turkey.  Once I got the bird rubbed down and stuffed, I threw together the biscuits to pop into the oven (still hot) and put the hubs to work on the gravy.  The gravy finished slightly before the biscuits which was no big deal and actually gave us some time to scramble some eggs up really quickly.  Before sitting down for breakfast we were able to get the star of the show into the oven.  Once we cleaned up breakfast things slowed down a little (but not too much) and my dad and I made the Banana Pudding.  We can only fit four things on our stove top to cook at one time so the plan was to throw the corn in the microwave to cook, leaving burners available for the potatoes, the greens, the cauliflower, and the apples.  Once everything was done the last thing to make was the turkey gravy!  Our timing was a little off with the completely cooked turkey, probably because we don’t have a meat thermometer and can’t accurately gauge how much time there was remaining for the turkey to cook.   As a result the stove top stuff finished a bit earlier than the turkey, not a huge deal but it made me a bit sad.  Next time, a meat thermometer will be a part of the meal prep ;).
So here’s the final spread 🙂

I’m a little sad that I didn’t get a picture of the gorgeous biscuits and gravy meal we had for breakfast, or of the puddings, but maybe next time!

So what was my favorite part of this entire meal?  Hands down it was the cornbread stuffing.  Stuffing is my favorite part of any holiday meal (by a long shot) and to have a Paleo version that is better than almost any non-paleo version I’ve had just tickles me to death.  I had planned on doing roasted broccoli as my featured recipe for the week BUT since the stuffing stole my heart I just have to use it as the featured recipe!  So be sure to check out the link to the preppy paleo post for the recipe.  By the way, I doubled the recipe…here are the modifications I made to it:

1. Leave out apples (although I may leave them in next time because I did have a bite of the stuffing with my sauteed apples and it added a whole new dimension of flavor)
2. Leave out cranberries/raisins
3. Substitute in the Paleo Comfort Foods Homemade Breakfast Sausage when the preppy paleo recipe calls for the sausage

Homemade Breakfast Sausage
2 lbs ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 heaping tbs (each) dried sage, parsley, and thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and then sautee until turkey is cooked

Easy. Peasy.

I bet you are wondering how I felt after an epic meal such as this?  Let me rephrase how I put it my friend Courtney…”I have never felt better knowing that I just enjoyed a wonderful meal and feel great after eating it.  No bloated feeling, no indigestion, no turkey coma, none of that.  Who would have though that eating this way could feel so luxurious but yet so guilt-free!  After pulling this off – I have all the confidence in the world in eating paleo.  Not only did the food taste better than ANYTHING I could ever get at a store but it made me feel good to know that I was nurturing my body and enjoying time well spent.  This meal proved to me that I don’t have to sacrifice anything (taste, quality, satisfaction) to eat paleo.”  And as far as the post thanksgiving workout, it was challenging but then again waht CF workout isn’t?  After having eaten so well throughout the holiday, I felt strong and confident going into the box today.

So I know what you are thinking…man this chick is a superwoman.  Let me tell you, it took a lot of help to prepare this meal.  I have to give thanks to all of the resources I utilized in preparing.  My husband for helping cook some of the dishes and finishing up the grocery shopping; my dad for helping with the clean-up, the banana pudding, and all other meals we ate during their stay; my dad’s wife for helping with clean-up, and quality conversation; and my grandmother for providing us with plenty of laughs.  I also can’t forget the creators of the Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook where most of the recipes were derived from and the blogger(s) over at the preppy paleo for the wonderful cornbread stuffing recipe.  Thanks to all of you for making this Thanksgiving a HUGE success!!!!


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