At the start of their Wheat Belly journey, many people resign themselves to a life without gravy, biscuits, or pumpkin pie, having to make the best of holidays devoid of enjoyment and indulgence. Just eat your dry turkey meat and lettuce leaves!
It’s not true. You can indeed have all your holiday dishes. But we are going to recreate them without wheat, without other grains, without use of gluten-free junk carbohydrates (no cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch, or rice flour), with little to no added sugars, and no other problem ingredients. Minus all the undesirable ingredients, in fact, pumpkin pie, biscuits, and gravy become health foods! Enjoy holiday dinner without feeling awful, without falling asleep afterwards, without gaining the usual 3, 4, or 5 pounds.
Here are a handful of dinner dishes: Wheat-free Cauliflower-Mushroom Dressing, Biscuits and Gravy, Better-Than-Mashed-Potatoes, and Cranberry Sauce.
Wheat-free Cauliflower Mushroom Dressing
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.
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.
Without wheat flour or cornstarch to thicken our gravies, surely the taste of gravy suffers–but it does not! Without the usual unhealthy ingredients, this Wheat-free Gravy is actually tastier than conventional gravy while presenting no health downside. (Also see the slightly different version in the Biscuits and gravy recipe, below.)
If you follow the recipe for Wheat-free 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 flour and 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.
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. Stir in coconut powder, 1 teaspoon at a time, waiting at least one minute before adding another teaspoon, until desired thickness is achieved.
Add onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt to taste.
Biscuits and gravy
Biscuits and gravy: the ultimate comfort food . . . one you thought you’d never have again!
The familiar dish of breakfast and holiday meals is recreated here with a delicious gravy that you can pour over piping hot biscuits. Because it contains no wheat or other unhealthy thickeners like cornstarch made with “junk” carbohydrates, there should be no blood sugar or insulin problems with this dish, nor joint pain, edema, acid reflux, mind “fog,” or dandruff—life is good without wheat!
While the gravy is also dairy-free for those with dairy intolerances, the biscuits are not, as there are cheese and butter in the biscuits, both of which are optional, e.g., leave out the cheese and replace butter with coconut or other oil.
Makes 10 biscuits
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound loose sausage meat
2½ cups beef broth
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup coconut milk (canned variety)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dash ground black pepper
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)
To make gravy:
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. Stir in coconut flour, little by little, over 3-5 minutes; stop adding when gravy obtains desired thickness. 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.
To make biscuits:
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.
Ladle gravy onto biscuits just before serving.
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.
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 this entire recipe, or 5.25 grams per serving (serves 6). To further reduce carbs, you can leave out the orange juice and, optionally, use more zest.
1 cup water
12 ounces fresh whole cranberries
Sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar (I used 6 tablespoons Truvía)
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.