Friday, July 29, 2011

Potluck options

Hard to believe that July is almost over. How's summer where you live? We're still looking forward to its arrival here in western Oregon ...

One challenge we frequently face is deciding what dish to take to a potluck (also known as a potluck supper, spread, Jacob's join, Jacob's supper, faith supper, coverd dish supper, bring and share, shared lunch, pitch-in, carry-in, bring-a-plate, smorgasbord, and dish-to-pass 1). We want to take something that we'll eat. That way, we know that there will be at least one item that fits our diet.This picture from the Wikipedia Potluck page is fairly typical, unless you're fortunate enough to be going to Grok potlucks. 
Carbfest, also known as a potluck (image from this site)

Carving station, complete with carbs! (source)
What kinds of dishes fit the paleo / primal / low carb philosophy, short of bringing a full carving station? Cost is an issue. Protein and fat are more expensive than carbohydrate. Breaking out the grass-fed ribeyes probably isn't practical. Prep time can be an issue, too. And sometimes it's best to avoid the whole diet / health / nutrition conversation. Mark Sisson's 80/20 Principle definately applies here. Some of these may not be your choices for everday fare, but they're far better than what we typically see at the potlucks we attend. So here's a list of the options we've come up with so far:

Pre-made party tray - I recently found these at our regional supermarket, composed of two kinds of lunch meat along with two kinds of cheese, already cut. Also included were a container of mixed olives and some packages of crackers. The price was reasonable.

Mixed nuts - Another buy-bring-open option. Pretty much self-explanitory.

Veggie tray - If you're certain that others will be providing animal protein and fat, you could opt for a plateful of plant parts. Obviously you could make this yourself or buy it pre-made.

Deviled eggs - These take a little time to prepare, but their cost can be quite reasonable. You don't have to use your locally-sourced pastured eggs.

 Pre-made meatballs and spaghetti sauce - This is a little more involved than the previous options, but not much. We buy a bag of frozen Italian meatballs at our supermarket, put them in the Grokpot and add a jar of the store's spaghetti sauce. Be sure to allow for enough time to thoroughly heat.

Beef sausage in BBQ sauce - Buy the beef sausage (like Hilshire Farms) when it's on sale, at this option becomes an even better deal. Slice the sausage into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces, put them in the Grokpot, and add a bottle of prepared BBQ sauce (Be careful with these sauces. They're typically loaded with various sweetners. But it's not like you're drinking the stuff. If you'd like, you could use your own. You can find my recipe here.)

Spinach salad with BBQ'd portobello mushrooms - I'll have to post the recipe for this, but we got it from Smoke and Spice: The Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl and Bill Jamison.  [Update - the recipe is posted here.]

Nancy's all meat chili - Another recipe that I'll post soon.

Pulled pork - For extra-special occasions I've brought a Grokpot of my real pulled pork. I posted my recipes for the spice rub and BBQ sauce here.

I'd love to hear your suggestions.

1 Wikipedia. Potluck.


  1. I'm on board with your suggestions, all except for the pre-packaged meatballs. Too much binder (read: grains) in those for me to handle. Another dish I might suggest that *I* like to bring along is a Seven Layer Salad, loaded with bacon and boiled eggs.

  2. Agreed, Lisa. You've got to read the ingredients lists and nutrition labels. We found a brand that has 5 g carbs per 6 meatballs. Of course, if you have to avoid grains completely, These are NOT an option. Come to think of it, Nancy just invented a meatball recipe that doesn't use bread crumbs ...

    Thanks for the Seven Layer Salad suggestion!

  3. I've brought deviled eggs (using slightly better than totally CAFO eggs), or roast veggies with seasonings, or if it is a small potluck, broken out the pastured ground beef and done something with that.

    For the last bake sale I was involved in, I made almond-meal based muffins.