My sugar and grain-free Thanksgiving

I’m trying hard to maintain my clean-eating lifestyle through the holidays. It’s not easy. Besides the turkey, my family’s usual Thanksgiving menu is loaded with flour and refined sugar. This year we have the added challenge of including some vegan-friendly selections.

If you are looking for some no sugar, paleo, GAPS diet friendly additions to your Thanksgiving meal, browse the recipes I tried this year.

Most cranberry sauce recipes are made with sugar. I was happy to find this paleo version on Amazing!Paleo. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raw honey, but that seemed too sweet for me so I cut it in half. It’s tart, but good.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Paleo Cranberry SauceIngredients:
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/4 cup honey (raw honey if you can get it)
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, honey and allspice in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring, until the honey melts. The juices will be lightly simmering.
  2. Add the cranberries and continue to stir.
  3. The cranberries will begin to pop. (Keep stirring or they will pop all over your stovetop.) Continue cooking until all the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened. (Will take 5 to 10 minutes.)
  4. Let sauce cool in refrigerator and serve with turkey.

I love my mom’s sweet potato casserole, but the brown sugar topping will not work for me this year. I found a yummy paleo version on CupcakesOMG! And with no butter, it’s vegan.

Instead of mashed potatoes, I’m making a parsnip and turnip puree that I found on Against All Grain. To give the vegans another option, I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth and the butter with Earth Balance spread.

My husband makes a magazine cover-worthy turkey every year. I’m paring it with paleo gravy from Brittany Angell. Thick without gluten. Ahhh…

And dessert. What did I do about dessert? I found a lovely recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Paleo Parents. It was hard not to eat the pumpkin bread before it got made into bread pudding. Very yummy!

I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Yoga to Say “Thank You”

The Thanksgiving holiday reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity to attend last weekend’s workshop at Kripalu. I am particularly grateful to my yoga students, who graciously gave up their weekend yoga classes so I could take the trip to Massachusetts.

A big take-away from the weekend workshop was insight into my own mental, spiritual and emotional needs. Not surprisingly, considering my latest career choice, I discovered that I am more confident and better at integrating information when I’m moving. It’s no wonder that in my corporate job I fell asleep in business meetings and seminars and never remembered a thing that was discussed.

This got me thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, when my minister brother, whom I love very much, starts the meal by saying grace. It’s nice to express gratitude for food and family, but when he speaks with his well-trained preacher voice I tend to zone out. (Nothing personal, bro. It’s just hard to sit still and listen without my mind drifting away.)

What if we pushed our chairs back from the table and did a moving prayer of gratitude? Moving prayers are nothing new. Dancing has been a form of worship for millennia. The Sufi Whirling Dervishes certainly pray that way. Yoga teacher Seane Corn teaches how to bring prayer into yoga practice in her “Body Prayer” classes.

My chair yoga class helped me work out a prayer of thanksgiving. It’s based on a chair adaptation of a half Sun Salutation.

A chair yoga prayer of thanksgiving.

A chair yoga prayer of thanksgiving.

Reach into the sun’s energy. Sitting near the front of the chair, inhale and reach both arms overhead.

And offer it to the earth. On the exhale, fold forward and lay your belly on your thighs, reaching your hands to the floor.

Open your heart to receive the universe’s grace. Bring your hands onto your knees, inhale and lift your heart, peeling your chest and abdomen off of your legs. Look ahead and press your heart forward through your arms as your spine extends. Lift your chin slightly.

Bow in humble gratitude for abundance shared. Holding your knees, exhale, drop your chin and round your back.


This works very nicely with a standing half Sun Salutation as well. You can speak the prayer or simply hold the words in your mind as you move. Flow through the sequence as many times as you need to feel it becoming part of you.

Another benefit? All that forward folding will massage your abdominal organs and stimulate digestion, so your body will be ready for that big plate of sweet potatoes, turkey (or tofu) and corn bread stuffing.

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