Thanksgiving Recipes! Bacon Herbed Turkey, Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Sauce

IMG_3249

As promised, here are the recipes from a very merry Paleo Thanksgiving, starting with the bird, of course! Below, you will also find instructions for the Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce. Injoy!

IMG_3329

Brined, Herb Roasted Turkey

Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salt solution. The saltwater is absorbed into the meat, adding extra moisture. The result is that the turkey will hold onto more juices and flavor than it would otherwise. I’m the first to admit, brining can be a bit of a hassle, and while I relish spending all day in the kitchen, I work with a lot of folks that don’t. That’s why they hire me, to learn all the shortcuts possible and still acquire the most nourishment from their meals. That being said, this is an area where it really pays off to take the extra time and make it over-the-top. Once you try brining, it will be hard to go back to the old way of doing things.

Brine

· 1 cup salt

· 1⁄4 cup molasses

· 3⁄4 cup sucanat or coconut sugar

· 2 oranges, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 2 lemons, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 6 sprigs thyme

· 4 sprigs rosemary

· 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

· 1 large orange, scrubbed and cut into 1/8ths

· 4 tablespoons refined coconut oil (refined oil has less coconut flavor) OPTIONAL: sub unsalted butter at room temperature

· Salt and pepper

· 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths

· 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 2 bay leaves

· 5 sprigs thyme

· 4sprigs rosemary

· 1/2 bunch sage

· 3 or 4 sprigs parsley

· 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

1. To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt, molasses and sugar in 8 cups of water on the stove. Add this to 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large ceramic stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag).

2. Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sucanat for every gallon of water.

3. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. (I recommend putting them immediately on the stove in a pot of water to begin making a stock for the gravy. It is incredibly nutritious to utilize these organs meats. They can also be incorporated into a soup stock with the carcass or roasted separately and enjoyed.)

4. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

6. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan.

7. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the coconut oil or butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

8. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Slip some herbs under the skin on the breast side between the meat and connective tissue. For added silly fun, place two lemon halves under the skin to give the lady turkey effect.

9. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

10. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.

11. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time.

12. Wrap the turkey in smoked maple bacon for the remaining duration of the cooking time for added moisture and flavor. (optional)

13. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

14. Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

15. Don’t forget to make a wish with the wishbone!

16. Also, save the bacon to blend with the turkey drippings and stock to make gravy. This was seriously the best idea I’ve ever had.

IMG_3348

Maple Bacon Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

So many of the people in my life make a scrunched face when I mention Brussels sprouts being one of my very favorite vegetables. Like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy this earthy veggie. Roasting is the perfect way to bring out the delicate flavors and create the best texture possible. And really, adding bacon makes pretty much anything delicious.

· 2 lbs Brussels sprouts

· 6 slices thick cut bacon

· 1/4 cup real maple syrup

· 2 large shallots

· 2 Tbsp bacon fat (drained from bacon)

· sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon, draining all but a tablespoon or so of fat into a glass bowl.

2. Cook shallots in the leftover fat in the pan.

3. Cut large sprouts in half.

4. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts in fat and maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and fresh paper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned.

5. While the sprouts are roasting, chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the shallots.

6. Remove sprouts from oven and add bacon mixture.

IMG_3282

Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce

I tend to have a negative visceral response to the cranberry sauce of my childhood. The suction sound it makes as it’s exiting the can, the shape of all the little rivets that it holds, just standing there in the bowl, the overly sweet, metallic flavor. With cranberry sauce this easy to make, you’ll never need that purple canned stuff again!

· 1 bag of fresh cranberries

· Zest of 1 organic orange (Best to get organic since we will be using the skin.)

· 1/2 cup maple syrup

· 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (Optional, to turn some or all of your cranberry sauce into a chutney.)

1. Bring cranberries, orange zest and maple syrup to a slow boil and then simmer for 10-20 minutes, until thickened. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

2. Add walnuts while it’s cooling.

10 Healthy Habits for Holiday Parties

images

This time of year can be a wonderfully festive time of connection and celebration. It is also full of opportunities to over-indulge and get off track with our wellness goals. Below are 10 tips to survive holiday parties while keeping your health and vitality as a priority.

  1. Do not arrive to parties on an empty stomach. Eat a cup of vegetable soup or a small salad 30-60 minutes beforehand. Especially on big holidays, make sure to eat breakfast and a balanced snack with fiber and protein earlier in the day.
  2. Make sure you get a physical activity in. Workout before attending holiday parties, or rally everyone to go for a walk after a big meal.
  3. Stay well hydrated. Thirst signals can be mistaken for hunger signals. Make sure you’re drinking at least half your body weight in ounces daily. Also, drink alcohol lightly, and alternate alcoholic and sugary beverages with glasses of water at get-togethers.
  4. Bring a healthy dish to share- quinoa salad, smoked salmon, bean dip, fresh veggies, hummus and lean meats, shrimp cocktail.
  5. Mingle with guests away from the food table. Don’t make it easy to snack mindlessly.
  6. Use a small plate at the buffet and choose just a few of the dishes to try. Moderation is key.
  7. Do not dress for bloat. No baggy pants at holiday parties. Wear that slimming dress that hugs your figure or a nice suit that fits perfectly.
  8. Eat slowly. Take the time to sit and savor your food. Pace yourself and try to be the last person to finish each course.  Take small bites and chew slowly and thoroughly. It takes about 20 minutes for you brain to get the message that your stomach is full.
  9. Ask the host of the party what you can do to help. Keeping yourself occupied and social will cut down on the time you are standing around munching.
  10. Plan your calendar to include holidays as higher calorie days. Eat lightly the rest of the week and avoid excess sugar and simple carbohydrates.

In conclusion, enjoy the holidays! Take time to be present with those around you, focus on non-food related activities and relax! Your body will thank you!