You CAN Have It All: The Ultimate CrossFit Thanksgiving Guide

Crossfit Thanksgiving Guide

Are you worried about surviving Thanksgiving this year?

Worried about losing all your gains or even moving backwards a few steps?

Never fear! With just nine simple tips and five handy recipes in this CrossFit Thanksgiving Guide, you can safely navigate the Thanksgiving table without missing out on anything.

Here’s how.

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

You awaken to the thundering approach of a 40lb alarm clock.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” screams your 5 year old daughter as she catapults onto your chest.

“Unhhh….” you groan.  “Sweetie, you know this isn’t like Christmas?  You don’t get presents on Thanksgiving.”

“I know,” she says, “but we get to see Aunt Gwendolyn and Cousin Sarah and we have to get there early!”

You roll out of bed and stagger down the hall.  Wobbling towards the kitchen, you start thinking to yourself….

“What’s the gameplan again?  Oh, that’s right.  Last year was a bit of a trainwreck, but this year I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.”

You check the fridge.  Yep, the paleo pumpkin pie you made is still intact.  Your family didn’t get into it last night…..

crossfit thanksgiving guide 1
Don’t show up empty handed

1st Tip – Bring your own dish:  People might not care if what you bring is Paleo, but making your own dish ahead of time gives you options.  Just make something good and nobody will think twice.  Plus it never hurts to show up with more food.

You verify that the Sophia is getting her clothes on.  Then you step out into the garage for some quick pre-game activity.

The concrete is ice cold underneath your fingertips as you drop to do a set of pushups.  You bang out a few sets of 5 pushups/5 squats and cap it off with 10 burpees.  Total time = 2 minutes.  

You pop back in the house,  pack up everybody, and scoot out the door.

crossfit thanksgiving 2
Try some pushups

2nd Tip – Do a little bit of physical activity before you chow down:  It can help boost muscle insulin sensitivity. Boosted muscle insulin sensitivity drives calories into your muscle cells instead of your fat cells. While doing a complete Crossfit Thanksgiving WOD would be great, 1-2 minutes of physical activity will help you out too.

You roll up the driveway and the kids eagerly jump out of the car.  You grab your dish and some Halloween pictures that you promised to share and head into the house.

Everybody is in full swing.  You give Aunt Gwendolyn a peck on the cheek (wow, she really reeks of Ben-gay this year).  “You look great!” she says.  “Have you been doing that new Zumba stuff?”

“Actually, I got into this thing called Crossfit about 6 months ago” .  You spend a couple of minutes trying to explain it to her but only manage to get her brow to furrow in confusion.  Oh well, at least she paid you a compliment…

You set your dish down on the table and inspect the Thanksgiving spread in all it’s glory.  Wow, it’s pretty impressive this year.  You might need to go ahead and loosen your belt now.

Your mother gets everybody together and says a blessing.  People eagerly grab plates and utensils and line up to chow down.

crossfit thanksgiving 3
Give Thanks

3rd Tip – Count your blessings:  Reflect on your triumphs, wins, and joys from the past year.  It’s good for your soul and will help you get through the next 30 days.

You start with a protein trifecta: turkey, ham, and deviled eggs.  Then you fill in w/ green bean casserole, that sweet potato casserole w/ the marshmellows on it, a dinner roll, and some sort of quinoa salad.  “Seriously?”  you think to yourself.  “Is somebody else here trying to eat clean too?”  

One of the teens is probably doing the rebellious vegan thing this year,  this is your Aunt Gertrude’s attempt to make them happy.

crossfit thanksgiving 4
Eat Your Meat

4th Tip – Protein first:  Build your plate around meat and then fill in veggies and starches.  Protein is very filling, veggies don’t have that many calories, and both will help you keep from eating too much of that diabetic-coma-inducing sweet potato casserole.

You make sure your kids are all squared away at their table and then join the table of grownups in the living room.  

You stare in disbelief as Cousin Joey seems to inhale his plate while hardly even moving his jaw.  He’s like a human vacuum cleaner.  He’s also a hefty 280lbs.  You take your time to chew and converse with everybody else while you enjoy your meal.

crossfit thanksgiving 5
One Bite At a Time

5th Tip – Don’t be a vacuum cleaner:  Chew your food thoroughly.  Your mouth is the first stage of digestion and your gut is going to need all the help it can get today.  Chewing thoroughly will also help you feel fuller more quickly since your brain needs time to catch up with your stomach.

You help yourself to a glass of Chardonnay.  You also grab a glass of water since the quinoa salad has 10lbs of salt in it.

crossfit thanksgiving 6
Have another glass

6th Tip – Drink plenty of water:  It will help limit your alcohol intake (nobody wants a repeat of The Incident of 2007) and will help you stay hydrated.

After a while, people drift away from the table.  Uncle Franko and your brother sprawl out on the couch to watch the Cowboy’s game.  You decide that you don’t want to pass out just yet so you decide to go for a stroll with Aunt Gwendolyn.  She’s 80 and has had double hip replacements.  You shouldn’t have trouble keeping up with her.

crossfit thanksgiving 7
Go for a Stroll

7th Tip – Go for a walk after dinner:  Increases insulin sensitivity (see Tip #2), helps your digestion, and keeps you from feeling like a total slug. “A walk of 100 paces after meals equals a life of 99 years” – Old Chinese proverb

You still manage to fall asleep on the couch after your walk.  Fortunately the kids manage not to kill themselves while playing with their cousins.  They all seem to be having a good time.

When you wake up, your sister is making to-go plates for everybody.  Smart move on her part, otherwise she’ll be stuck with enough food to keep eating turkey through Christmas.

crossfit thanksgiving 8
They Can Keep the Container

8th Tip – If you’re hosting, give away leftovers:  Everybody wants something to snack on later, and you don’t need five pumpkin pies staring at you every time you open the fridge.

You manage to get home at a decent hour and get the kids to bed.  You have a light bedtime snack of turkey and devilled eggs.  You fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.

The next day, you step on the scale. “Cool, I only gained 2lbs.  It’s probably just water weight that I’ll drop once I get back to my normal eating.”  You reflect on how awesome your Thanksgiving was this year compared to last year.

crossfit thanksgiving 9
1 Day Only

9th Tip – Thanksgiving is only on Thursday:  Get back to your normal eating starting on Friday.  Remember, 3500 calories = 1lb of fat.  Since the average Thanksgiving meal is 3000 calories, you’re unlikely to gain 10lbs of fat overnight.  Any weight gain can be attributed to water bloat that was pulled in from all the starchy carbs you ate.  It will be gone in a couple of days.

Congrats! You’ve safely navigated Thanksiving!

But what if you want to have a Paleo-friendly Thanksgiving while making the meal decadent enough for your nonpracticing guests?  What then?

5 Delicious Recipes for the Perfect Paleo Thanksgiving Spread

Want to wow your guests without making them feel like they’re missing out?  Whip up these five recipes and wait for the compliments to roll in.

  1. Bacon Wrapped Turkey
  2. Mashed Cauliflower
  3. Roasted Root Vegetables
  4. Paleo Cranberry Sauce
  5. Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Bacon Wrapped Turkey


  • knife
  • small bowl
  • foil
  • roasting pan
  • oven-going meat thermometer


  • 10 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely snipped fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage, finely crushed
  • 1 12- to 14-lb fresh or thawed turkey
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut in wedges
  • kosher salt
  • pepper


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Finely chop 2 slices of the bacon. In a small bowl stir together the chopped bacon, onion and the finely snipped sage. Set aside.

3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Rinse the turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Starting at the neck end of the turkey, loosen skin by sliding your fingers underneath, separating the skin from the meat. Rub onion and bacon mixture under the skin, over the breast, and toward the thighs.

4. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the body cavity. Put sage sprigs and onion wedges inside. Pull the neck skin to the back. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Weave remaining bacon in a lattice pattern over breast. Tuck fresh sage leaves into lattice.  Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle, avoiding bone. Cover loosely with foil.

5. Roast 2 3/4 hours. Remove foil. Roast 15 to 45 minutes more, or until thermometer reaches 175 degrees. Remove turkey from oven.

6. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard vegetables from turkey. Makes 8 servings plus leftovers.

Mashed Cauliflower


  • large pan
  • immersion blender or whisk


  • 1-2 head of fresh cauliflower or 1-2 bags of frozen
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • Salt, pepper, garlic and other spices to taste


1. Cut up cauliflower into chunks.

2. Bring a couple quarts of water to a boil in a large pan and add cauliflower.

3. Cook until tender.

4. When tender, put into large bowl and add other ingredients.

Use immersion blender or hand mixer to blend until smooth and creamy.

Roasted Root Vegetables


  • Foil
  • Large flat pan or pan with low sides
  • Peeler
  • Knife


  • 1 pound parsnips
  • 1 pound turnips
  • 1 pound carrots (to make it fancy, you can use some small carrots with the tops on)
  • 1 pound rutabagas
  • 4 shallots
  • 6-8 garlic cloves or 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 sprigs rosemary or 2 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line pan with foil for easy cleanup.

3. Peel first four ingredients. And chop into 1-2 inch pieces. If you use whole carrots with tops, trim the green tops till 1/2 long.

4. Peel the shallots and garlic. Cut shallots into halves or quarters, depending on the size.

5. Toss the vegetables with the oil and spices. Place in pan in a single layer. Bake 45 minutes, stirring twice. Serves 6.

Special Bonus:

You can add more or less vegetables depending on how many you are serving. Get creative and try different veggies. One time I added beets and even though I loved the flavor, I found it a little hard to eat PINK vegetables. The beets dyed the entire dish pink.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce


  • 2 qt pot


  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons raw organic honey


1. Rinse the cranberries and pick out any bad ones and leftover pieces of stem.

2. In 2 quart pot add the cleaned cranberries, water, apple juice, and orange juice and bring to a low boil.

3. Add the ginger, cinnamon, and honey and simmer, stirring often until the cranberries are broken down and the sauce becomes thick, about 10-15 minutes.

4. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, add additional honey to taste.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie


  • Food Processor
  • Pie tin
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spatula
  • Knife



  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened organic pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw organic honey
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk


1. Preheat your oven to 350.

2. Place the hazelnuts and pecans in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground.

3. Pour the ground nuts into a small mixing bowl, add the melted butter or ghee and salt, and mix into a thick dough.

4. Using your hands and a spoon, press the dough evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

5. While the crust is in the oven, mix all of the pie filling ingredients with a spatula. The coconut milk can be hard to reconstitute. You can open the can and stir it up in a bowl before measuring out 1/2 cup or you can warm up the can in a pan of warm water and shake it till you feel it sloshing in the can when you shake it.

6. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the filling into the crust, return the pie to the oven, and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

7. The pie is done when you cut a small slit in the center of the pie with a butter knife and it comes out clean.

Final Presentation

You’re in Control

Don’t let Thanksgiving Day fill you with fear, dread, and feelings of helplessness.

It’s time to enjoy your family, your friends, and your blessings.

Don’t worry about doing all the tips – just pick 1.

Don’t worry about making a full Martha Stewart Thanksgiving spread – just pick 1 recipe and give it your best shot.

And don’t worry about having a perfect day.

Just have fun 😉

Photo credits:
sea turtle via photopin cc
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson / Foter / CC BY-ND
rkramer62 / Foter / CC BY
jules:stonesoup / Foter / CC BY
donjd2 / Foter / CC BY
nattu / Foter / CC BY
Marina(im.back) / Foter / CC BY
sun dazed / Foter / CC BY-SA
DafneCholet / Foter / CC BY