Thanksgiving at my in-laws can be challenging. Tradition is everything, and there is a lot of carbohydrate-heavy entrees, sides, and desserts. Mess with the expected menu and you are likely to incur the wrath of the mother-in-law, one of the brother-in-laws, or any of the many nephews and nieces.

After six years of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays, however, I’ve been able to slowly sneak some paleo- or primal-aligned sides into the traditional repast. As my mother-in-law has gotten older (and as my culinary skills, professional or otherwise, have become more accepted) I’ve been given more and more responsibility and leeway with preparing many of the dishes that fill our holiday table.

By carefully choosing the paleo- and primal-compliant dishes, as well as tucking into theĀ a heaping pile of the traditional turkey or ham, it is possible enjoy the celebration without suffering from the otherwise-inevitable carbohydrate hangover.

This year, and to great acclaim even from the eight-year-old who considers green jelly beans to be “a vegetable”, I introduced a new recipe: bacon-wrapped Brussel sprouts with a lemon aioli dipping sauce.


  • IMG_4532 copy18 medium Brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One package nitrate and sugar center-cut bacon (about 18 strips; I get mine as part of a monthly shipment from Butcherbox)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Primal Kitchen is my go to for this, when I don’t have the time to make my own)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Trim the stem ends from the Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise.

Toss cut sprouts with 1 teaspoon salt.

Lay the bacon strips next to each other, brush with 1/2 the maple syrup, and then halve crosswise.

Wrap each Brussels sprout half with 1 strip of bacon so the seam is on the flat side.

Place the sprouts seam-side down on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving a half-an-inch or so between them. If you don’t have a rack, lay them on non-stick aluminum foil; they soak up a little more oil but will still be good.

Brush the wrapped sprouts with the remaining syrup and grind a little black pepper on top.

Roast for about 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. They are done with the bacon is crisp and the sprouts are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

While the sprouts are roasting, prepare the aioli. Mash garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl until a paste forms. Add the mayonnaise, avocado oil, and lemon juice, and whisk until smooth.

Transfer the sprouts to a platter (sprinkle with a little Parmesan if desired) and serve with the aioli for dipping.


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