We get it; you’re on a diet but craving your fave comfort foods like ice cream and chicken noodle soup. With our new food series, #NotCheating, we’re turning these cheat-day dishes into compliant recipes. If you’re dabbling with gluten-free, vegan, keto, paleo, Whole30, or other plans, allow these takes to curb your hankerings healthfully.

Oh, Thanksgiving dressing. The love for it is real, which is why we can’t forgo it this year, even though we’re on a paleo (or Whole30) diet. Our vegetable- and protein-packed recipe will help curb your cravings, while allowing you to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers with fewer, or um, no regrets. This recipe isn’t just for the Whole30/paleo crowd. In addition to being devoid of gluten, dairy, and sugar, the dressing can easily be vegan if you don’t add in the pork.

We’ve ditched the bread for more nutrient-dense, carb-like fillers such as roasted celeriac (that’s the root of celery!), chopped chestnuts, and chopped walnuts. Feel free to sauté diced apples into your aromatics if you prefer a sweeter dressing. Texturally, this isn’t quite like the bread pudding-like texture of traditional stuffing, but the flavor is 100 percent Thanksgiving deliciousness!

We loved it so much that after making it the first time, we made a veggie version the next week. We tossed in some dried cherries and topped it with grated cheddar cheese for a weeknight dinner that pulls together pretty quickly. Its leftovers also taste incredible when laid out on a sheet tray with Brussels sprouts and roasted until nice and caramelized.

Paleo Thanksgiving dressing

(Serves up to 12 as a side dish)

Recipe Notes: This can certainly be made a couple of days before serving. Simply prepare a 2-quart (8-inch by 10-inch) casserole dish with paleo-compliant non-stick spray, and refrigerate the dressing, covered, until ready to use. Reheat in the oven for up to an hour at 375°F. Find the chestnuts at your local Williams-Sonoma, Trader Joe’s, or health food store. We used the Matiz brand found through Instacart.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups diced celeriac, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 24 ounces cremini and/or white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like heat)
  • 2 teaspoons whole fennel seed, slightly crushed in mortar and pestle
  • about 30 sage leaves (or more if you like), minced
  • 13 ounces whole, peeled, ready-to-use chestnuts
  • 2 cups raw walnut halves and pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare two separate baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the diced celeriac with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Turn celeriac out onto a prepared baking sheet.

3. Repeat the same process with the mushrooms, by tossing in 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Tossed mushrooms will go on another prepared baking sheet.

4. Roast celeriac and mushrooms for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time. Celeriac should be slightly browned and just tender. Mushrooms will shrivel and brown quite a bit. Once roasted, remove from the oven and add them to a large mixing bowl.

5. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the celery, carrots, onion, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until veggies have softened slightly and are a bit caramelized. Remove to the same large mixing bowl as the celeriac and mushrooms.

6. As veggies caramelize, use a food processor to chop the chestnuts and walnuts separately by pulsing the blade about 10 times for each. Chestnut and walnut pieces should be roughly the size of a jelly bean or slightly larger. Add each to the large mixing bowl.

7. In the same skillet as the veggies, sauté the pork, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, fennel seed, sage, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes or until pork is cooked through and crumbly. Remove to the same large mixing bowl.

8. Gently toss the entire mixture, scooping from the bottom.

9. Transfer to a casserole or serving dish. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate to reheat later.

For more #NotCheating recipes, visit Brit + Co on Pinterest!

(Recipe via Ashley Bare/Brit + Co; photos via Kurt Andre/Brit + Co)