Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie and Two No-Recipe Recipes (Cauliflower Puree and another yummy steak marinade)- Plus tips for navigating the holiday dinner table

The blogosphere abounds with pumpkin pie recipes right now- vegan ones, paleo ones, low-carb, high-carb, no sugar, unrefined sugar, you name it.  I wanted to make one myself but have also had some organic sweet potato puree in my pantry for some time, thinking maybe I'd give it to S one day in a pinch, and I thought it was time to use it.  So GFG Sweet Potato Pie was born!

No Sugar Sweet Potato Pie
2 1/2 cups nuts (I used a mixture of blanched almond, walnut, and pecan)
4 dates
2 tsp coconut oil
pinch of salt

1 can sweet potato puree
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
40 drops vanilla creme stevia
1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Pulse first 4 ingredients in a food processor until mixture is starting to come together but still crumbly.  Press firmly into pie tin.  You'll want to make sure you get the crust up the sides of the tin.  Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven.  While crust is baking, beat eggs in a bowl and add milk, and stevia.  In separate bowl, mix puree, salt, and pumpkin pie spice until well incorporated, then add wet mixture and combine well.  When crust is finished, pour filling into crust and bake for about 50 minutes or until the middle is just starting to set.  Let cool for at least two hours before eating.  If you're in the mood for a fall-ish dessert and are tired of pumpkin, this is a great alternative.  I can't eat very much, as sweet potato is kind of a carb train-wreck, but it's great for a party and can be dressed up with pretty pecans, some coconut whipped cream, or regular whipped cream.

Another recipe making the rounds right now is mashed cauliflower.  This time of year many of us have a hankering for mashed potatoes.  I can't say I miss mashed potatoes too much, I miss french fries and potato chips much more, but if you want that creamy, buttery taste, this is an awesome option for you, and is incredibly easy.  You really can't call it a recipe.  Steam a whole head of cauliflower until very tender, then mash with whatever you have on hand.  Pour in some whole milk and a tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper, and you're golden.  Great for babies too!

We have become big fans of top round steak.  Number 1, you can't get much cheaper, and #2, very very lean.  You do need to marinate these suckers because they are pretty tough.  My latest marinade consisted of:
1 1/2 tsp Vietnamese garlic chili paste
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped finely
1/2 tsp black pepper

After 4-6 hours marinating you'll have a very tender steak.  All it needs is 4-5 minutes per side on the grill/stove top and you're dunzo. 

With Thanksgiving only days away, I'm reminded of the usual weird mix of emotions it used to stir up.  Excitement to see my family and go home, looking forward to all the yummy home-cooked dishes and annual "I'm thankful for..." game we played at the table, the craziness and utter chaos of my entire enormous, ridiculous, neurotic, and utterly insane Jewish family all at the same place at the same time, but also, trepidation and anxiety about the food, overeating and feeling gross, gaining weight, etc.  Last thanksgiving I was nursing so didn't much care what I ate or how much because it hardly mattered, but in previous years it was always a minefield.  I'm sure many of us still feel like that.  In fact, any event where eating was the main attraction used to make me go a little nuts.  Too many obstacles, too many opportunities to overindulge and then deal with the requisite guilt that surely followed.  Ugh and that god-awful overstuffed feeling, ick!

Is this ringing any bells?  Who else has felt like that?  Have you found a way to deal with it?  There is no right or wrong answer.  I know that for me, I never ever have those anxious, fearful feelings anymore.  Doesn't matter what the occasion or how many temptations there will be.  I have finally found what works for me and can breathe easily in these situations now.  Eliminating grains and sugar has literally saved my mind.  Many people just don't get it.  One of my friends in particular cannot get it through her head that I just don't eat grains, sugars, and starches.  The idea is totally unfathomable and she thinks that I subsist on lettuce and chicken.  And even though I eat more now than I ever have in the past, some people are convinced that I starve myself.  A lot of people are just never going to understand.  And that's fine, who cares!  Here is how I navigate the shark-infested waters of an EATING EVENT.
-If necessary, do some preparation before-hand.  I do it for S anyhow so it's no extra trouble.  Do you need to bring any extra veggies?  Dip?  Cheese?  Nuts?
-If possible, try to figure out what will be served to ensure there will be a couple options for you.  If you truly have to avoid certain foods like wheat/dairy/gluten/soy/eggs or have blood sugar issues, perhaps a few minutes on the phone with the host would be best.
-Offer to bring a dish that you know will be a crowd-pleaser but is also appropriate for your diet.  For instance, if you are helpless against dessert, bring your own GFG-approved delicacy to share.
-I prefer to arrive hungry so I can enjoy eating a nice big meal just like everyone else.  I know a lot of people will conversely suggest you have a snack before arriving so you don't risk chowing down on a bunch of crap you shouldn't eat, but this is counter-intuitive to me.  I want to feel like a normal person and I don't like drawing attention to my special diet.  The fastest way to ensure people are hounding you about your diet, asking stupid questions, and making uninformed remarks, is to stick out like a sore thumb and nibble on celery all night while everyone else is indulging.  So I prefer to go in with a big appetite and go in for seconds if I feel like it.
-The key to going in with a big appetite is creating a game plan once you see the spread.  Thanksgiving is actually super easy if you're grain/gluten free or on a primal or modified primal diet.  Duh, as much turkey as you want.  There is usually a couple green veggies to choose from, you may have to eat around some of the accoutrements  (fried onions, croutons etc) but for the most part, you should have some decent veggie options.  Certainly squash and sweet potatoes aren't off limits (unless you've got glucose issues) and you may even get lucky and have some kind of salad available too.  Usually there will also be nuts and cheese as hors d'oeuvres that you can load up on as well.  That is quite a lot of food.  So check out the spread, and visualize your plate from there. If you eat until you're satisfied, you'll have less temptation to "try" a bunch of sugary shit afterwards.  And honestly, most of it you've had a million times before.  It's not like this year's cheesecake would be mind-blowingly spectacular and unmissable.

Of course you cannot control how every single dish is prepared.  The sweet potatoes may have brown sugar on them, the cranberry compote will have some sugar too.  You cannot control these things.  You are going to have to decide for yourself how important those indulgences are.  I think you'll find that once you're accustomed to not eating sugar, that sugary foods you used to like don't taste the same anymore.  Now, the sugar is overpowering and it's all you can taste, yuck.  You might not care if you don't eat the sugary stuff.  Or you might really miss it.  So have a little.  Will it kill you?  Nope.  It's up to you to decide.  I know I used to loooooooooooove stuffing.  I was a carb addict, and that was a biggie.  Thinking about it now- ew.  All those starches turning into glucose instantly- no thanks.  But we all have to weigh the pros and cons and be accountable.  All I can say is that you have free rein to load up on turkey and veggies to your heart's content.  Do that, and you probably won't have room for anything else. 

Tell me how you cope with the holidays and abundance of carby, stachy, sugary treats?  What are your tricks?  And by all means, put links to your recipes in the comments!  Have a great holiday and enjoy!  We all have much to be thankful for.  XoXoGFG


  1. Hi! I was trying to find a way to e-mail you privately, but couldn't figure it out so I'll comment here. I hope you don't mind me sharing that your background picture hurts my eyes when looking through your blog. I actually avoid coming here often because of it. I don't know if others have this problem as well, or if it's just me. That aside, your blog looks great! I hope to come back more often. :)

  2. Hi Minichick! Sorry it was bothering you before! I've changed it now so hopefully this will be easier for you! I needed to change things up a bit anyways! Thanks for reading :)

  3. Ahhhhhh...Thank you so much!!! It's so easy on the eyes now.