The Best Paleo Thanksgiving Side Dishes
There are so many positives to adopting a paleo diet - healthier blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and weight loss, just to name a few. But living a paleo lifestyle isn’t without challenges, and these seem to rear their heads around the holidays! During a time of year that focuses on heavy foods, cheeses, sugars, and side dishes focused on grains, processed food ingredients (hello, condensed soup, we’re looking at you!), and general overeating, it can seem tough to stick to a healthy eating regimen.
The good news is, you can stay on track during the holidays, and even better; many of your favorite side dishes can be made paleo-friendly with a little bit of tweaking. While most of our recipe posts focus on how to cook pasture raised chicken, here we’ll focus on some paleo holiday side dishes that pair well with pasture raised chicken, like our whole birds, spatchcocks, or chicken thighs.
Technically, all you need to do to make sure you’re eating paleo is to avoid the following: processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats. So, a simple roast vegetable dish or salad (with homemade dressing that avoids sugar and vegetable oils) are easy paleo side dishes. But sometimes you want to kick it up a notch, especially for Thanksgiving, where delicious savory side dishes are a huge part of many of our Thanksgiving memories. With a bit of creativity, you can enjoy comfort food on Thanksgiving and still stick to your paleo diet!
We’ve taken some of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes and provided recipes that make these holiday favorites paleo and delicious:
Paleo Running Momma does a great job of finding paleo-friendly recipes for favorite foods. We love her paleo pizza crust! For Thanksgiving, this recipe for butternut sausage paleo stuffing with apples and cranberries allows you to enjoy a hearty and savory stuffing without giving up your paleo diet in favor of the rice or bread-heavy traditional stuffing.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed, tossed with 1.5 Tbsp of olive or avocado oil, for roasting
- 1 lb ground pork sausage
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large apple, seeded, cored, and chopped
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp fresh sage leaves, minced
- ¾ cups dried cranberries (make sure these aren’t artificially sweetened, to keep it paleo)
- 1 egg, whisked (optional, to help the ingredients stick together during baking)
To roast the butternut squash, preheat your oven to 425° F, and toss the squash cubes with 1.5 Tbsp oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a single layer on a lined baking sheet for 30-40 minutes, stirring once. Remove from the oven when the squash is tender and beginning to brown. Meanwhile, cook the onion and celery in 2 Tbsp oil until softened, then add the ground sausage and cook until evenly browned. Once the sausage has browned, add the chopped apples, rosemary, sage, thyme, and salt, and cook for a few minutes until flavors are combined.
When the butternut squash has finished cooking, add it to the sausage mixture along with the dried cranberries, and toss everything together. If you’re using egg to help the stuffing stick together, pour that in now and incorporate it with the rest of the ingredients.
Lower the oven temperature to 375° F, transfer the stuffing mixture to a large baking dish, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Courtesy of Real Food with Jessica, these paleo mashed potatoes are a healthy alternative to the traditional dairy heavy spuds. There’s no denying the traditional recipes make for some delicious mashed taters, but they can often leave you feeling bloated and heavy after your meal. These potatoes are made with almond milk and ghee, and will leave you feeling satisfied but not overstuffed. By the way, in case you’re questioning whether potatoes are really paleo, you can read this article on the subject.
- 3 pounds organic yukon gold potatoes
- 1 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup ghee
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon garlic oil or powder
Cut your potatoes into quarters and boil them with ½ tsp of salt for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Once cooked, drain the potatoes well and add them back to the hot pot. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and the steam has subsided, and then add almond milk, ghee, 1 tsp of salt, chives, and garlic oil/powder, and serve while warm. Simple, delicious, and healthy!
Real Food with Jessica strikes again to provide us another wholesome spin on a Thanksgiving favorite. Who doesn’t remember green bean casserole from their childhood, made with processed condensed soup and those little crispy onions? Delicious, no doubt, but healthy? Not so much.
This recipe is a bit labor intensive because of the homemade mushroom soup, but for a special Thanksgiving side dish it’s totally worth it! You can find the recipe for the homemade mushroom soup on realfoodwithjessica.com. Once that’s done, the rest is pretty simple.
16 oz frozen french style green beans (you can also use fresh)
2 cups Homemade Cream of Mushroom
12 oz uncured bacon (make sure there’s no added sugar)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place green beans in a large bowl and pour in the mushroom soup, stirring the ingredients to combine. Pour into a 9 inch square baking dish, and bake for 25 minutes.
While the casserole is baking, cook the bacon. Start by cutting it into small pieces and cook in a skillet until crispy. Once the casserole is done cooking, remove from the oven, sprinkle the cooked bacon on top, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
If you’re feeding a small group (i.e. no need for a massive turkey), or prefer to use ethically farmed pasture raised chicken as your main course instead, check out our delicious roast chicken recipes. And as always, make sure you’re following proper food safety tips when cooking any type of meat, especially chicken.