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Wow! Can you believe Thanksgiving is in a week?!?!  It feels like it came really fast. And with Thanksgiving already here, that means big meals, holiday parties, indulgent drinks and desserts, carbs, and more food, calories, sugar, and stress than anyone really needs.

So then the question is, what can the average person do to preempt holiday weight gain?

However, I prefer the question, what can a lone Paleo devotee do in a world of bread, cakes, and pies? Or more specifically, how can I stay Paleo through the holidays and  family dinners?

I’ve already started formulating my plan for how to stay Paleo for 2 Thanksgiving meals (yes, that’s right, folks, 2 nights of mass quantities of food, family, and fullness).

Turkey: While I’d love a heritage turkey, free of antibiotics, hormones and pharmaceuticals, that is locally pasture-raised, I don’t think its going to happen as they’re already sold out.  Still, I think the key to look for is no antibiotics or hormones, and that’s exactly what I’ll be pushing for.  But at the very least, it is still protein and therefore allowed on Paleo.

Mashed potatoes: This one is easy: I’ll buy a head of cauliflower, chop it up, steam it, and using beaters, butter, salt, garlic, pepper, and coconut milk turn it into the creamiest mashed ‘potatoes’ ever that even the non-Paleos will want some.  Yum!

Bread, rolls, and other carbs: While over the years, I’ve slowly been decreasing my consumption of all things white and starchy, and as a result losing interest for them, I occasionally still would indulge.  But after these 7 months on Paleo, I have 0 (zero) temptation for bread, rolls, biscuits, etc, and therefore this won’t be a problem. But if I did, I could make Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread, although that’s really more of a dessert.

Salads: We will probably have a green salad, so no problem there. Any other salads, I’ll just politely ask what’s in it and adjust accordingly, even if that means being polite, taking a small bit, then moving it around my plate (you know, those with the mayo, sour cream, or other problematic ingredients).

Veggies: There will definitely be a good selection of veggies!  But I do know that some of our popular family recipes call for veggies to be baked in cream of mushroom soup or have other starches, dairy products, or canned preservative-laden products added; in those cases, I have 2 options: (1) kindly and gently ask the cook to pull out a small handful of the veg and just steam with butter for me, or if I’m too late (2) take a small bit and then leave on the plate, as above in salads, while opting for the other, plain veg.

Sweet potatoes and squash: Allowed on paleo. 🙂 But my family likes sweet potatoes even sweeter with brown sugar baked in and marshmallows on top. And I’ll admit, this is a yummy dish, but alas, not really Paleo. So I’ll probably steal half a sweet potato to be baked separately, then add butter, cinnamon, and perhaps a pinch of nutmeg. And likewise for squash… Brainstorming while writing this, maybe I’ll make mashed sweet potato with butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon, all baked with coconut flakes on top.

Fruit: As is generally advised on Paleo, in limited quantities.

Dessert: Aha! Now we come to my weakness. I can get through any meal strictly Paleo and then we get to the dessert and all is lost. But since last week I hosted a Paleo dessert-making demo through the Phoenix Paleo/Primal Meetup group, I now have lots of scrumptious recipes that I’ll be making and sharing with my family. Because, really, couldn’t we all use a little less sugar in our diets? (As an aside, even my grandparents called me earlier this week to ask how to lose the flab, to which I replied, ‘cut the sugar’). So here are a couple of the ones I’m planning on trying out for Thanksgiving:

All fairly simple and easy to make and looking incredibly tasty! Though if you’re up for something with more steps, this looks like it could win over any non-Paleo-er, Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake.

So that’s my plan for keeping Thanksgiving Paleo.  What do you think? Will it work?  Do you have any other advice? Or what’s your plan for keeping to your eating regimen during this holiday season and avoiding extra pounds?

[Image: gotta love Chinese and their spelling “Thank Giving” at the Le Meridien Hotel, Shanghai, 2006. Credit: me]

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