“Eat like a caveman” is popular shorthand for the paleo diet, which prioritizes foods eaten during the Paleolithic era.
As a refresher, people practicing the paleo diet:
- Eat more lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (aka foods that would’ve been hunted or gathered), and
- Limit foods including dairy, legumes and grains.
Cooking for a holiday crowd within those parameters can seem tricky, but it’s actually pretty simple if you have the right recipes. Here are 7 to get you started.
Beets are naturally paleo-friendly, and this recipe gets a flavor boost from acidic balsamic vinegar and an earthy punch from roasted walnuts. Plus the smell of cinnamon simmering on the stovetop will automatically get you into a festive mood, as will the deep red color of the beets on your table.
Potatoes aren’t considered paleo since they can cause blood sugar levels to spike, but not to worry: cauliflower is an excellent substitute. Using cauliflower in your mash also gives this dish a lighter, airy quality, which is a welcome addition at most holiday tables.
Now that you have a swap for mashed potatoes, you’re going to need gravy, which can be hard to come by as it’s traditionally made using a flour-based roux. Yet again, cauliflower is the secret superstar here, and it gets a crucial flavor assist from pan drippings, thyme and onion.
Cranberry sauce is a non-negotiable on a holiday table for some people, but store bought varieties are often high in sugar. This 3-ingredient version makes a simple, sweet and fragrant addition to any meal — and it’s great on a turkey sandwich the next day (made with paleo bread, of course).
While traditional eggnog typically relies on dairy, this version substitutes almond milk to create a sweet, deeply spiced and somewhat lighter alternative. It also gets a beautiful, pungent aroma from nutmeg and maple syrup. Plus, it’s not made with any alcohol, so it’s kid-friendly.
Pecan pie is a staple at any Southern holiday, and there’s no reason paleo dieters should miss out. This recipe makes few key swaps including a paleo pie crust (made with almond and coconut flours), date paste for sweetness, and ghee, clarified butter created by skimming the milk solids out of melted butter.
Another tasty Tennessee tradition is sausage balls, which are great for breakfast or an appetizer. Most of us grew up making these with boxed pancake mix, but this version, using almond and coconut flours and tapioca starch, might taste even better.