Zen Holiday Eating and Sausage Cheddar Balls
Nothing says holiday party like these savory, rich ballzzzz...
Zen Holiday Eating…Is There Such a Thing?
Staying Low Carb/NSNG/Keto during the holidays is no easy feat, especially if you are new to this way of eating. I’m in New York City right now, and on every street corner I’m tempted by the most delicious food you can find anywhere. I think I just heard a pizza call out my actual name. Or maybe it was just Pizza Rat.
As we call it on the podcast, sometimes, you wanna put “Life Into Living” (LIL). Here are some mindful LIL tricks that work for me.
1. If you fall off the wagon, just GET RIGHT BACK ON! The very next meal. It might feel weird to do that. Most of us are used to the diet mentality which states if we blow it, then we should continue to blow it for the rest of the day…week…month…holiday season…right on through to the Super Bowl. Let’s have none of that! Get right back on the wagon and have a sugar and grain free meal during your very next repast.
2. Notice how you feel when you “splurge” and eat sugars and grains after not having them for awhile. Do you feel good? Bad? Nauseous? Hungover? Achy? Craving more carbs? Tune into those feelings. Tune into what your body is telling you. Usually one or two big binges is all most people need to remind them that staying the low carb course FEELS so much better. I personally have never felt better in my life, so I know I don’t need to push it with too much splurging, or else I’ll feel awful.
3. Prep for the holidays. Make some sugar free and grain free side dishes. (Round up of Holiday Recipes here). Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach, which will cause you to eat everything in site. It also might cause extreme embarrassment from as you morph into your family’s unofficial drunk uncle. Remember, when you are eating low carb, alcohol tolerance changes, and one drink can cause quite the buzz. Load up on healthy fats, veggies, and protein at the office/dysfunctional family holiday parties.
4. Definitely listen to the Fitness Confidential podcast. Vinnie Tortorich and I discuss the holiday eating mindset almost non-stop this time of year.
5. And one more thing—be easy on yourself, but know your boundaries. Well meaning people offering up all sorts of sugar and grain filled treats are not the boss of you. You get to decide what you want to eat. If you eat Christmas cookies or potato pancakes or too much mulled spiced wine or the whole dang fruitcake (please don’t with the fruitcake), own your choice, enjoy your choice, and move right on past it.
New Recipe…Sausage Balls!
I’m often asked what are some good appetizers to make for a party that are still free from sugars and grains. Basically, we all want to know what we can eat at a gathering so that we can enjoy our food and not go off plan (potentially awakening the food craving kraken within). Most of the time when it comes to a party or potluck, the only way to control your dining experience is if you bring your own homemade dish. Because, you know, manners.
I’m always trying to come up with NSNG versions of party food so that not only do you bring something you love to the party, the rest of the party marvels at how good your dish is. I want your dish to be the one everyone gobbles down first. Nothing less than, “Wow, I can’t believe that’s low carb” will do.
There are other appetizer recipes of mine that you should try if you haven’t already: Jalapeño Poppers, Whiskey Cheese, Buffalo Hot Wings with Homemade Ranch Dressing, Chicken Queso Dip with Veggies and Almond Flour Pita Chips, Mini Meatballs, Instant Pot Pork Rillettes, Chipped Beef Dip, Mushroom and Walnut Paté, Pizza Dip, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Roasted Spiced Almonds, Super Guac, and many many more. Check out the Master Recipe Index for the breakdown of where to find every single recipe. Geez, looking back at that list, if I got to go to the party that serves all these dishes, I’d be in bite-sized heaven. It’s like a Super Bowl party hosted by the low carb gods themselves.
Which brings me to the savory, slightly spicy, always addictive classic holiday recipe, the beloved Sausage and Cheddar Balls. These guys are usually held together with copious amounts of flour or biscuit dough (grains and grains). If you go to a party, 99% of the time, someone didn’t make a low carb version just for you to enjoy. My version does not use the grains, and you won’t miss them. This way you can enjoy the decadence of the holidays with zero guilt. Pop ‘em like Pac Man pellets, I say.
Sausage Cheddar Balls
(makes 28 1” balls)
1/2 onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound breakfast sausage, casing discarded (or you can use Italian sausage)
1/4 cup cream cheese, brought to room temp
1/4 cup almond flour or crushed pork rinds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (for extra heat, optional)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
In a large, flat-bottomed sauté pan, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Cook onion 2-3 minutes, or until soft, being careful not to burn. Add sausage and cook thoroughly, about 5-7 minutes, breaking sausage up into small pieces. Drain excess grease from sausage and return sausage to pan. Fold in cream cheese until melted and blended into the sausage mix. Sprinkle in almond flour and stir, remove pan from heat. Stir in red wine vinegar and ground cayenne. Fold in shredded cheddar until melted.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let sausage mixture cool for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, form mixture into 1” balls and place evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in oven 15-20 minutes, or until sausage edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently drain sausage balls on paper towel. Pierce with toothpicks and serve.