Friday, November 26, 2010

First Primal Thanksgiving

Yesterday we had our first Primal Thanksgiving.  It went extremely well.

(I didn't offer the typical "Happy Thanksgiving" post because I was too busy living life.  So, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all.)
Celeriac Soup
For an opener, we had this Silky Celeriac Soup using a recipe from Mark Sisson.  Celeriac soup was a vegetable with which I was unfamiliar.  But I'd starred this recipe in Google Reader, and when I went to the farmer's market to pick up our turkey, I saw that it was available, and decided to wing it. (Pun intended.)

One of the attributes our Paleo ancestors would have had in spades was flexibility.  You eat what you find, not what you'd like.

After being appalled by the added mystery ingredients in the whole cream at Stop & Shop, I drove to Whole Wallet and bought some Sky-Top Farms pastured, unhomogenized (but pasteurized) cream, which featured prominently in this soup and in several other dishes.  (I doubled the portion of cream in the soup, replacing some of the optional water.)

I also made Nell Stephenson's brussell sprout recipe.  I hate brussel sprouts, but for some reason when I saw them at the farmer's market, I craved them.  I had also starred this recipe in Google Reader.  The sprouts turned out reasonably well, but I think they were a bit undercooked.  I would steam them for longer, or cut them in quarters, so they'd be a little less chewey.  As advertised, they were quite tasty.  I used dates but not pecans, as my older daughter has a nut allergy.  Bacon would also have been a good addition, and I think cooking them in lard or bacon grease would have been a good route to go.  Nell's recipe suggests using olive oil, but since we know that's not paleo, I felt free to replace it with another "not paleo", but more tasty and nutritious oil: pastured butter.  This is produced from May to September; I have a freezer-full of it for the winter months, since we use it liberally.  My occasionally-lactose-intolerant younger daughter does just fine on it, thank you very much.

I made mashed potatoes for the traditional aspect, with lots of raw milk, cream, and pastured butter included.  Note to self: do not use power tools when making mashed potatoes next year.  They rapidly became glue-like, and while the addition of dairy products rescued the taste, the texture was a bit lacking.

We had a salad, two different gluten-free stuffings, gluten-free corn muffins, and, of course, a pastured turkey, which was easily the tastiest bird I've eaten in my life.  Not to mention some cranberry sauce, and acorn squash.  And gravy, of course.  Skimming the turkey fat off the top of the gravy is key, by the way.  I omitted this step last year, and regretted it.  Turkey fat is high in linoleic acid, which is prime amoung the "bad fats", I've noticed that poultry fat with too much linoleic acid in it leaves me feeling out-of-sorts.

One of the stuffings' ingredients called for Campell's cream of celery soup, which is listed as "Heart Healthy" and approved by the American Heart Association.  Paranoid that I am, I read the ingredients anyway, and was horrified to note that this "cream" of cerery soup listed "vegetable oil" as the second ingredient, after celery.  "Truth in advertising" includes lies, apparently.  A high concentration of linoleic-acid-rich vegetable oils and it's metabolites are well-correlated with heart disease.  So I wound up making a quick cream of celery soup in the morning to be included in the stuffing, following an old recipe from Fannie Farmer.

For desert we had gluten-free brownies, ice cream, and, for our guests, a couple of pies with a wheat crust.

Strict observers of the Paleo or Primal diets will notice that we did not strictly follow either one.  A bit of grain (like corn) now and again isn't going to be harmful, IMHO.  Even my daughters appear to do fine with the occasional bit of wheat; my wife and I do not, however.  I think that regular, long-term consumption is what causes harm that the body cannot repair; as even celiacs who do not eat wheat for a period can tolerate it once in a while without symptoms.  This meal was more in line with Stephan Guyenet's research or Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet, therefore.

This meal involved a fair amount of work and research, as you may gather.  But it was worth it.  Really the only fiasco was the potatoes.

What was fascinating to note was our guests' reactions.  They all loved it, and cleaned their plates.  But no-one went back for seconds, and one guest who had piled her plate particularly high was unable to get through it.  It was a very satiating meal, in other words, even with all the carbs.  Neither my wife or I had any of the bad effects that we've now come to associate with a meal including wheat or vegetable oils: we felt great after this meal.

This is in line with the theory that the harmful stuff in the Modern American Diet isn't the carbs, but wheat and vegetable oils.

I weighed myself after returning from my nine-mile Thanksgiving trail run prior to all the cooking and eating, and then again the following morning: zero weight gain, but I nevertheless skipped breakfast due to still feeling full.

I will note that if I was the only one planning this meal, it would have been more Primal, but marital concerns dictated some of the menu. ;)  I don't think that the meal would have been any less well-recieved if it had been more Primal.