Plan for Your Wheat Belly Compliant Holiday Season

By Dr. Davis and April Duval

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It is time to start thinking about what Wheat Belly compliant food options you will prepare for the upcoming holiday season.  Are you planning ahead for your success?

You and your family can enjoy nearly all traditional Thanksgiving recipes while staying on course.  It means that you will replace cheesecake or pie crusts with ground walnuts, pecans, or almonds. It means that you will thicken gravies with ingredients such as coconut milk, pureed squash, or cream. It means that you choose natural sweeteners such as stevia, monkfruit, allulose, or erythritol. It means that you should feel free to eat the skin and dark meat on turkey, or spread butter over grain-free muffins liberally without any concern for calories. It means that you sacrifice nothing in taste.  You get to enjoy delicious and satisfying meals without gaining weight and without developing the metabolic disaster that people eating conventional holiday dinners experience.

And keep in mind what we call the Wheat Belly one-way street: While other people can eat and enjoy Wheat Belly-compliant dishes without a problem, you cannot enjoy their wheat/grain-containing food without triggering unhealthy effects, most commonly diarrhea, bloating, and skin rashes, sometimes worse. It means that, if you are preparing dinner, you can make EVERY dish Wheat Belly-compliant and everybody can safely enjoy them.  By following such Wheat Belly swaps, there is therefore no need to prepare, say, a pumpkin pie for the grain-eaters and a pumpkin pie for the non-grain eaters. Just serve the wheat/grain-free version and everyone will be happy.

In addition to the many holiday recipes in the Wheat Belly 30-Minute Cookbook, here are some ideas for healthy swaps that incorporate the Wheat Belly principles.

Cauliflower Mushroom Dressing (Stuffing)

This dressing is heavier than the usual bread-based dressing or stuffing. Because it contains meat, it should not be stuffed into the turkey to cook, as this will not ensure a sufficiently high temperature. While this works best as a two-step process–-stove top to oven–-if time-pressed, you could just cook on the stove top a bit longer. 8 servings

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 pound pork sausage, preferably loose ground
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces Portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
4 ounce can/jar roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bring approximately 12 ounces water to a boil in sauce pan. Toss in porcini mushrooms and turn heat down to maintain below boiling. Stir every couple of minutes for 20 minutes.

In deep sauce pan, saute sausage (if encased, remove from casing) in 1 tablespoon olive oil, along with celery and onions, until sausage cooked. Drain excess oil. Place sauce pan back on low heat. Break cauliflower into small florets and add to sausage mix. Toss in drained porcini mushrooms along with approximately 4 ounces of the porcini broth (save remainder of broth to make gravy; below), remainder of olive oil, green pepper, roasted red pepper, Portabella mushrooms, flaxseed. Add onion powder, sage, thyme, tarragon, salt and black pepper and stir.  Transfer to baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

All-Purpose Baking Mix 

4 cups almond meal/flour
1 cup ground golden flaxseed
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground psyllium seed (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal/flour, flaxseed, coconut flour, baking soda, and psyllium seed (if desired). Store in an airtight container, preferably in the refrigerator.  Makes 5 cups

Thanksgiving Dressing/Stuffing (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)

Bread:

1 cup All Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
1-1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8X8 inch square pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl blend baking mix, sage, thyme and salt. Then add egg, butter and milk. Stir well then transfer to prepared pan, being sure to spread batter out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes then remove bread from oven and cut into 1 inch cubes.

Place bread cubes back in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then turn off oven and allow bread to harden overnight.  If not drying out bread overnight, lower heat to 325 degrees and bake bread cubes for 20-30 minutes or until bread has dried out.  Serves 6

Dressing Prep:

2 tablespoons bacon fat or salted butter
½ bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked meat (turkey, chicken or sausage)
1 cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9X5 loaf pan and set aside.

To a medium skillet add fat, chopped vegetables and salt. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat and stir in cooked meat and dried bread cubes.

Add stock and poultry seasoning. Stir well allowing the bread cubes to soak up the stock. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Stir in egg.

Pour dressing into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has hardened or the desired consistency of dressing has been achieved.

Turkey Gravy

If you follow the recipe for Cauliflower Mushroom Dressing (above), you should have around 8 ounces of porcini mushroom broth left over. This adds a wonderful mushroomy-meaty flavor to the gravy, a deeper character not usually found in standard gravies. Thickness is obtained without wheat, cornstarch, or other carbohydrate-rich thickener by use of coconut milk.

Because the quantity of drippings obtained will vary widely, depending on the size of your turkey, ingredient quantities are not specified. Rely on taste as you prepare your gravy to gauge ingredient quantity.

Turkey drippings
Coconut milk
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Sea salt

Heat drippings in the roasting pan or poured into a sauce pan on stove at low-heat. Pour in coconut milk slowly, stirring, until desired color is achieved. Gravy should be opaque, rather than translucent.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt to taste.

Gravy:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound loose sausage meat
2½ cups beef broth
½ can (13.6 ounces) coconut milk or cream
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dash ground black pepper

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté sausage, breaking up as it browns. Cook until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink.

Turn heat up to medium to high and pour in beef broth. Heat just short of boiling, then turn down to low heat. Pour in coconut milk and stir in well. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

Better than Mashed Potatoes (from the Wheat Belly Cookbook)

While potatoes, of course, contain none of the Evil Grain, they have problems all their own, including the potential for causing extreme blood sugar rises. Many potatoes sold today are also genetically modified, introducing a whole new level of uncertainty.  So here is how to recreate the taste and feel of mashed potatoes that are every bit as god as–no, better than!–the dish made with potatoes, but with none of the worries.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place a steamer basket in a large pot with 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the cauliflower in the basket and steam for 20 minutes, or until very soft.

Remove from the heat and drain. In a blender or food processor, combine the cauliflower, cream cheese, butter, and salt. Blend or process until smooth.

Biscuits:

1 cup shredded cheddar (or other) cheese
2 cups almond meal/flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
4 ounces butter, melted (or other oil, e.g., extra-light olive, coconut, walnut)

Preheat oven to 325° F.  In food chopper or processor, pulse shredded cheese to finer, granular consistency.  Pour cheese into large bowl, then add almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and butter or oil and mix thoroughly to yield thick dough.  Spoon out dough into 10 or so ¾-inch thick mounds onto a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick withdraws dry.

Cheddar “Corn” Bread (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)

1 cup  All-Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
2 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon compliant sweetener (optional)
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (approximately 1 cup)
½ tablespoon butter for pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Also place 8 inch cast iron skillet in oven to preheat. Allow skillet to preheat 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl add baking mix, eggs, sour cream, sweetener (optional), butter and cheese. Blend until all ingredients have been incorporated

Carefully remove pan from oven and add the reserved butter to the pan. Pour batter into the hot skillet. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the top of the bread begins to brown.

Note: An 8 inch cake pan can also be used. Do not preheat the cake pan but allow a few more minutes for cooking time.

Muffins: Lube the wells of a muffin tin with butter or use muffin liners. Using a ¼ cup scoop, divide batter into muffin tins. Bake until muffin tops begin to brown, approximately 18-22 minutes.  Serves 8

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Acorn Squash Au-Gratin (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)

2 cups sliced acorn squash
1 onion, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup milk or almond or coconut milk
1 tablespoon butter (omit butter and double coconut oil if dairy-free)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons All Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
½ cup cheddar cheese (omit if dairy-free)
5 slices bacon, diced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange squash in baking dish and layer onions over squash. Salt and pepper to taste.  In a small stovetop pot gently heat milk, butter, coconut oil and baking mix. Add cheese to pot and heat until melted.  Pour heated milk mixture over squash and onions. Top with bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for 5 minutes to brown the top to desired level of browning.  Serves: 6

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is one of those fixtures of Thanksgiving dinner that, when recreated without wheat, can be enjoyed without worry. No worries over weight gain, increased blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure. No leg edema, abdominal cramps or diarrhea.

The pumpkin puree poses only a slight potential carbohydrate challenge. The entire pie contains 36 grams carbohydrates; if divided into 8 pieces, that yields 4.5 grams carbohydrate per slice–a tolerable level for most people. Heck, even two pieces yields about the same carbohydrate load as half an apple.  Makes 8 servings

Pie crust:

1 1/4 cups ground walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
4 ounces butter or coconut oil, melted

Pie filling:

2 cups pumpkin puree
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Sweetener equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar (e.g., 3 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, mix together ground walnuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. In small bowl, whisk eggs and add butter or coconut oil. Pour liquid mix into dry mix and blend by hand thoroughly.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan with coconut oil or other oil. Transfer mix to the pie pan and spread evenly along bottom and up sides. If mixture is too thin, place in refrigerator for several minutes to thicken. For ease of spreading, use a large metal spoon heated under running hot water. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine pumpkin, cream cheese, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly by hand. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sweetener and continue to blend by hand.

Pour pumpkin mix into pie crust. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick or knife withdraws nearly dry. Optionally, sprinkle additional nutmeg and/or cinnamon, top with compliant whipped cream or coconut milk.

Cranberry Sauce

Here’s a zesty version of traditional cranberry sauce, minus the sugar. The orange, cinnamon, and other spices, along with the crunch of walnuts, make this one of my favorite holiday side dishes.

There are 31.5 grams total “net” carbohydrates in the entire recipe, or 5.25 grams per serving. To further reduce carbs, you can leave out the orange juice and use more zest.

1 cup water
12 ounces fresh whole cranberries
1/4 cup Virtue Sweetener (or other natural sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar)
1 tablespoon orange zest + juice of half an orange
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

In small to medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Turn heat down and add cranberries. Cover and cook at low-heat for 10 minutes or until all cranberries have popped. Stir in sweetener. Remove from heat.

Stir in orange zest and juice, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Transfer mixture to bowl, cool, and serve.  Makes 6 servingsthanksgiving-meal.jpg?resize=350%2C265&ssl=1

Apple Cranberry Crumble

Apple, cranberry, and cinnamon: the perfect combination of tastes and scents for winter holidays!

I took a bit of carbohydrate liberties with this recipe. The entire recipe yields a delicious cheesecake-like crumble with 59 “net” grams carbohydrates (total carbs – fiber); divided among 10 slices, that’s 5.9 grams net carbs per serving. (To reduce carbohydrates, the molasses in the crumble is optional, reducing total carbohydrate by 11 grams.)

Always taste your batter to test sweetness, since sweeteners vary in sweetness from brand to brand and your individual sensitivity to sweetness depends on how long you’ve been wheat-free. (The longer you’ve been wheat-free, the less sweetness you desire.)

Crust and crumble topping
3 cups almond meal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 cup Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon molasses
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Dash sea salt

Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to ½ cup sugar)
1 Granny Smith apple (or other variety)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In large bowl, combine almond meal, butter, sweetener, cinnamon, molasses, vanilla, salt and mix.

Grease a 9½-inch tart or pie pan. Using approximately 1 cup of the almond meal mixture, form a thin bottom crust with your hands or spoon. (Dip hands or spoon in water to smooth more easily.)

In another medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, and sweetener and mix with spoon or mixer at low-speed. Pour into tart or pie pan.

Core apple and slice into very thin sections. Arrange in circles around the edge of the cream cheese mixture, working inwards. Distribute cranberries over top, then sprinkle cinnamon over entire mixture.

Gently layer remaining almond meal crumble evenly over top. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping lightly browned.  Makes 10 servings

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Pumpkin-Pie Cheesecake

Crust
1 cup All-Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
½ cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 teaspoons Virtue Sweetener

Pumpkin Cheesecake
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 1/2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  For the crust, add the baking mix, pecans, butter and sweetener to a medium bowl and blend well. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8” spring form pan and set aside.

For the pumpkin cheesecake filling, add the cream cheese, sour cream, egg, pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, sweetener and vanilla to a medium bowl and blend with a mixer until smooth. Pour the cheesecake cake batter on top of the crust.

Bake for 35 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool then carefully remove the outer ring of the pan by gently sliding a knife around the edges. Serves 12-16

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Irish Cream:

This is an adults-only treat: a version of a delicious rum-based Irish Cream made without sugar or, in this version, dairy, unlike the widely-available commercial versions.

If you are a fan of the Irish Cream served as a liqueur or splashed over ice cream or other desserts, this is how you make a healthy version rich with all the flavor but with none of the sugar. I provide the dairy-free version here. Replace the coconut milk with an equivalent quantity of cream or half-and-half for a dairy version. Use the highest quality cocoa powder for the best flavor.

I’ve made this many times and presented it as a gift to friends in a decorative glass bottle, perfect for the holidays. Optionally, top with shaved dark chocolate, ground cinnamon, or serve with a stick of cinnamon or topped with whipped cream. For an alcohol-free version, leave out the rum.

If you use coconut milk, note that refrigeration will make it too thick to drink; allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour to let the oil liquefy.

Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups

1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
3 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to ½ cup sugar)
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups unflavored rum

In blender, combine coconut milk, cocoa powder, sweetener, coffee granules, cinnamon, rum and blend until well combined. Serve with optional toppings.  Store in airtight bottle or jar in refrigerator.

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These Wheat Belly food swaps will allow you to have a safe and healthy holiday without weight gain, without the agony of wheat/grain re-exposure, and without rises in blood sugar.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

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