The Paleo Diet, also commonly referred to as the “Caveman Diet,” is a modern nutritional eating trend that takes the fundamental idea that what early man of the Paleolithic Era ate is all we really need to nourish our bodies and survive. Now, this doesn’t mean that those who eat Paleo are draping themselves in animal furs and hunting their pray to feed their families at night; of course, this is a modern idea based on the concept that over the last century we have allowed so many chemicals and preservatives into our bodies via canned and bagged goods at the grocery store and especially as a result of fast food. The Paleo Diet strips away all non-natural ingredients and is designed around protein and fat being beneficial to give us the vitamins and nutrients needed to reach our optimal point of nutrition.
Over the last several decades diets like Atkins and South Beach vowed that carbs were bad and fat, namely bacon-fat soaked burgers and vegetable sticks dipped in mayo, would make our bellies flatter and our hearts healthier. Paleo seems to do what the aforementioned popular diet trends didn’t succeed in; Paleo Diet followers do not focus on the restrictions, they focus on what delicious and nutritious foods can be eaten and indulged in often. If you know anyone who lives by the Paleo mindset, you will probably know that they don’t hate, but absolutely love food, and enjoy more of what they eat than the rest of us, because they don’t feel heavy or weighed down from their meals; they feel energized, excited, and rejuvenated by their diet choices.
The good news is, if you have a guest or guests this holiday season who is on the Paleo Diet, or as more preferably stated, lives a Paleo lifestyle, catering to their needs will not be much of a challenge since what they eat, you will find, most of your guests will love. This isn’t to say you should eliminate everything that’s not “Paleo Approved.” Paleo lifestyle gurus are used to the occasional dinner party or dinner out where they have to scan the table for what they can appropriately and confidently eat. However, why not give everyone at your table the gift of amazing proteins, delicious vegetables, and sinful desserts with the added benefit of health and nutrition associated with Paleo-approved foods.
Here are some ideas for your Paleo holiday dinner that all your guests will love:
- Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms: chorizo is a spicy, Spanish sausage that will give a kick to the otherwise neutral mushroom taste. Traditional stuffed mushrooms use bread-based stuffings; here, the chorizo is your base and it’s sautéed with onions, peppers, and herbs prior to being stuffed into the mushroom cap and baked.
- Paleo Spinach and Cheese Dip: this is a Paleo spin on a spinach or artichoke dip that asks you to add crispy sautéed bacon bits mixed with spinach, cashews, coconut oil, and baked. Serve with sweet potato chips for the most delicious crowd pleaser.
- Butternut Squash Lasagna: thinly sliced layers of butternut squash mimic the texture of the pasta you’ll never miss. Use ground turkey and cheese as your filling and delight your guests.
- Pepper Crusted Steak: as simple as it sounds; season liberally with pepper, but cut back on the salt. Use garlic, thyme, and sage for the holiday flair, grill or broil to a medium rare and serve.
- Raw and Grain Free Brownies: Yes, raw cocoa, in other words, chocolate is Paleo approved. However, flour and grains are not so it’s time to get creative with these bites that combine dates, walnuts, and cocoa powder in the food processor for the gooey goodness that can be rolled into balls and popped in your mouth like traditional brownie bites.
When hosting holiday parties a huge stress inducer is knowing that there are different diet and nutritional needs of every guest. From an uncle allergic to nuts, to a sister who doesn’t eat carbohydrates, to your vegetarian cousin, planning a menu to suit all needs is definitely a challenge.