As unbelievable as it is to me (and maybe even many of you!), Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Normally I’m all into cooking a huge Paleo feast—as I have before when we hosted 18 members of my husband’s family in our not-quite-that-big house. I love getting up at 4am to prep the turkey, and I love coating my kitchen in fine layers of Paleo flour while prepping rolls, pies, muffins, and stuffing. This year, however, things will be a little different. This year on Thanksgiving I will be just 12 days away from my due date for my son, and while I might still have that desire to destroy my kitchen from 18 hours of cooking, I’m just not going to be physically able to. This is where Paleo On The Go comes in.
Maybe you’re hugely pregnant (or not!), or maybe you don’t get your thrills from spending a day and a half preparing a feast. Maybe you really don’t have the time, the cooking skills, or the energy. Maybe you’d rather enjoy the holiday than tire yourself out by cooking food that gets eaten like a hundred times faster than it takes to be cooked. Whatever the case may be, there is a brilliant option available for people just like you, me, and plenty in between who want to or need to stay Paleo for Thanksgiving, but don’t want to cook it. Going out to a restaurant for a Paleo Thanksgiving meal isn’t an option for 99.9% of you, either, I’m guessing—and besides, don’t we all want to stuff ourselves on delicious food from the comfort of our home while we watch parades, football, and Charlie Brown Christmas specials?
Paleo On The Go, in case you haven’t heard of them, is a Paleo meal delivery service based in Largo, Florida. From their dedicated gluten-free kitchen, they ship delicious Paleo meals across the country. They offered to let me sample their Thanksgiving feast and, being the starving pregnant woman and all-around fan of Thanksgiving food, I was delighted.
The food arrived well-packed and frozen in a styrofoam cooler with dry ice. The meal came with easy to follow instructions: I placed my meal in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, and the next afternoon, I preheated my oven, placed all the items on a baking sheet, and heated the food in the oven for around 40 minutes.
The transformation that happened during the cooking process was nothing short of amazing. When the meal arrived, frozen and vacuum-packed, I’ll honestly say that it didn’t look that appealing. I mean, what food does under those circumstances, am I right? But halfway through the heating process, my house took on the delightful smell of a Thanksgiving meal, and when I peeked in the oven I was quite impressed by the vibrant colors of each dish.
When my timer dinged at 40 minutes, I literally dropped everything else I was doing and transferred all of the food items onto a large dinner plate: the turkey, the Paleo stuffing, the sweet potato casserole with pecan walnut streusel topping, the green bean casserole, the apple crisp crumble, and of course, the cranberry sauce. It looked like I had dished up the best of Grandma’s Thanksgiving cooking and I could have handed that plate to anyone without mentioning Paleo and they would have raved about the food. But let me break each item down individually:
- Turkey: The turkey was moist and very flavorful, and I was impressed with the serving size. It was easily enough to enjoy some for my meal and some for leftovers later in the day. I added just the slightest bit of sea salt because I’m the kind of girl who drowns my poultry in sea salt, but I really only added a tiny amount compared to my average. It had great flavor on its own!
- Paleo stuffing: I must admit that this was hands down my favorite part of the entire meal, and I have never liked stuffing. This stuffing is magical, though, because it contained ground pork and cassava flour bread, along with onions, mushrooms, and the incredibly pungent flavors of sage and rosemary. If I would have had two portions of this, I would have eaten them both and more. No salt or pepper was required to add to the flavor, and I have literally not stopped wanting this stuffing since I ate it. Paleo On The Go turned me into a stuffing fan for the first time in all of my 31 years, and I exaggerate not!
- Sweet potato casserole with pecan walnut streusel topping: This sweet potato dish nicely blended the creamy, savory goodness of mashed sweet potatoes with a sweet and crunchy and streusel topping that, again, I thought was ingenious. I’m normally not a fan of blending soft and crunchy textures, but this dish was outstanding, and again, needed no extra seasonings to be thoroughly enjoyed.
- Green bean casserole: For most of my life, this has been my favorite Thanksgiving dish. The quintessential meal component that, if missing, could literally ruin Thanksgiving dinner. This one was Paleo-compliant by using coconut milk, coconut cream, and tallow and it was indeed nice and creamy as a green bean dish. It didn’t have the typical onion topping, but I really didn’t miss it since this dish was very flavorful. I would have probably eaten three or more servings of this, given the opportunity. (And I would have done that whether I was “eating for two” or not! It was that good!)
- Apple crisp crumble: No Thanksgiving meal is complete without some sort of dessert, and this one did not disappoint! I was impressed with the fluffy texture and the crumble topping made from cassava, arrowroot, coconut, and almond flours. They were blended perfectly to have a very “non-Paleo” taste, while being fully Paleo.
- Cranberry sauce: This three-ingredient sauce tasted just as you would expect traditional cranberry sauce to taste, and if you’re a fan of the cranberry, you will definitely not be disappointed in this holiday staple!
So there you have it! My only complaint about the entire meal is that I don’t live near enough to the Paleo On The Go headquarters to drop in on a daily basis to sneak some stuffing and green bean casserole. I’m sure they might frown on that, anyway, but truthfully, I was so impressed with the outstanding quality of the food that I highly recommend it as your Paleo-cooking alternative.
For this Thanksgiving season, they’re shipping meals out on three different Mondays in November leading up to Thanksgiving, and the food can be conveniently stored in your freezer until turkey day arrives (although I would have a terrible time resisting the urge to break into the stuffing before that). Meals are available to serve 4, which can easily accommodate 4 adults, or 2 adults with plenty of leftovers, or 1 very hungry pregnant woman who has no intentions of sharing any of it. (I jest, I would share! Maybe.)
So if you’re wavering on what to do for your Thanksgiving meal this year, don’t stress about having to cook a feast if that’s not your thing—and avoid the all too tempting thought to just eat non-Paleo foods for the holiday, especially if you’re eating Paleo for health reasons. You can enjoy delicious traditional food without compromising all of the hard work you’ve put into your diet and your health, thanks to the brilliant minds behind Paleo On The Go.