Given it’s Thanksgiving week, we thought we’d devote Monday to the big menu. (Check back tomorrow for this week’s Dear Mark!) Yup, we’re taking on the mother of all carb-laden holidays, and we aim to please. The truth is, you absolutely, positively can make Thanksgiving a primal success, and you needn’t compromise taste or tradition to stay on track this holiday. No franken-foods (Can we say Tofurky?) or flavorless “health” concoctions here. We think Grok – as well as William Bradford – would be pleased, and we hope you are too. Happy Thanksgiving to all our American Apples. And for our international readers: even if you aren’t joining in on turkey day this week, we offer up these recipes as a great menu for any upcoming parties or holidays. Bon Appétit, everyone!
And we were just getting over the carb onslaught of the holidays. The Super Bowl presents a little dilemma for guys (and gals) who are health-minded: how to simultaneously hang with buddies, drink beer, maintain healthy eating habits, not feel like a pig, avoid celery and carrot sticks, and all without spending the entire time manning the kitchen island. It can be done.
Here’s what I plan to make (or enlist the rugrats to make while I mess with all the electronics after suffering through customer service in vain for two hours).
I have a strict 20-minute prep rule for all game day foods, but I also like to eat food that tastes better than greasy pizza, stale chips, and dips that all taste pretty much like flavorless goop.
The following things are really easy to make. They taste great, and you can mess around with seasonings and extras as much as you like without really ruining anything.
Here’s how it works:
Plan on at least one avocado for each guest.
Halve and peel avocados.
Plunk in large bowl.
Mash with utensil.
Add in a few tablespoons of salsa, a teaspoon or so of salt, and juice of one lime or lemon (or a few squirts of ready-to-go lemon juice). Stir.
Result for 5 minutes of effort: completely healthy dip everyone loves, and enough Omega 3′s to write home about.
What to dip into this? Veggies, veggies and more veggies.
Spinach and artichoke dip
Most spinach-and-artichoke recipes are really just mayo and parmesan with a little green stuff thrown in. I do the opposite for a result that tastes just as good but is a lot healthier.
1 bag of frozen spinach (partially thaw in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes)
1 bag of frozen artichoke pieces or hearts (thaw these puppies, too)
1 cup of parmesan (any kind, but I like fresh grated)
1 teaspoon of salt (any kind, but I like coarse)
A few tablespoons of olive oil (enough to help mix all the ingredients)
Dump it all into a medium-size glass or metal dish, mix, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Total prep time to get to your mouth: 13 minutes. (Don’t forget to pre-heat that oven.)
For extra flavor: chop up some garlic, or, if you’re really, really lazy, when you’re picking up all your game day groceries, toss a small container of truffle oil or pre-chopped garlic into the cart. Add all you want into the mixture for awesome flavor.
20 minute chili
For 6 guests, you’ll need:
2 pounds of fresh ground beef (I go for organic)
1 big can of chopped tomatoes (fresh is best, but hey, we’re being lazy this weekend)
1 big can of tomato paste
1 big can of chicken or veggie broth (again, organic)
1 or 2 cups of water (just eyeball it until it looks right, remembering that the meat will add juices)
1 chopped onion (you can buy this pre-chopped)
1 can of sliced jalapenos (don’t drain)
Seasonings: I like to add about a teaspoon of paprika, some crushed garlic cloves, a few teaspoons of chili powder, and several dashes of tabasco. You can fool around with different spices – I’ve even heard of some people adding mole sauce and others adding dark chocolate. It’s hard to mess up chili.
Brown the meat (you know how to do this, right? It should take you about 10 minutes). While that’s going on, in a big pot, dump in all the other ingredients. Once the meat is browned, drain it and add it to the mix. Cook the whole thing on medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir a few times, turn the heat down to low, and by the time your guests arrive, the chili will be perfect.
This is filling, totally unprocessed, easy to make, and tastes great. Don’t forget bowls, genius.
Garlic lime chicken skewers
This is one of those recipes that is really easy and always impresses guests. They’ll think you’re a rock star in the kitchen…if only they knew. You do need to start this one on Saturday.
Here’s what to do:
Buy a bag of free-range chicken tenderloins or chicken breast pieces. Thaw.
Next step: place pieces in a big dish. Drench with the juice of four or five squeezed limes (lemons are okay, too).
Next step: drench with several tablespoons of olive oil. I never measure.
Next step: sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of salt.
Next step: sprinkle with a handful of chopped garlic (you already bought some pre-chopped at the store)
Next step: enlist your teenager to get in there and mix it all up. Remember, kids love chores.
Next step: Let sit in fridge overnight.
When your guests arrive and complain of starvation, run some skewers through those tenders, grill a few minutes on each side, and serve. Cooking time is about 8 minutes. Depending on how fast your teenager moves, prep time isn’t much longer than that. The result is a high-protein finger food with zero processed junk in it.
Another “exotic” recipe that takes a joke of an effort.
A jar of salsa.
A package of fresh chopped mango (available in most produce sections now for about five bucks. It’s worth it to save the peeling and slicing time).
Ready for this? Mix them together in a bowl.
Time to get to your mouth: about 30 seconds. Salsa is almost negative when it comes to calories, and a little mango is a nice twist that doesn’t add too much sugar.
If you’re not a total crudite-phobe, you can put out some fruit and veggie platters care of the local deli, too. It takes about 10 seconds to whip up an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip (bowl, I’d like you to meet olive oil and vinegar).
This takes a lot longer than 20 minutes to make, and it’s also not technically healthy (though a guy can always hold out hope), but if you stick to the vegetable and protein based snacks above, a few cold ones will not be a problem.
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