When it comes to holiday eating when we’re out-and-about, it can often feel like we’re constantly stepping over gluten-filled land mines. The holidays are supposed to be festive and fun, though. The best way to navigate those holiday food landmines is to come to a party prepared.
First remember that your host is excited to welcome you to his/her home and he/she wants to provide an extraordinary experience for you. It does the host a disservice if you don’t mention any food restrictions. The host wants to create an experience for you, and you should give them the chance to accommodate your needs. Nothing is worse for a host than lovingly preparing a meal only to learn that their guest can’t eat any of it. They’ll often try and learn something new and exciting in
an effort to make you feel welcome. So, it’s a win-win!
I know, I know — you don’t want to be that person with all the food restrictions. Well, honey, you are that person. And that is perfectly OK. So many more people are dealing with food restrictions these days and by speaking up, you may be helping someone else who was afraid to mention it.
What I always tell a host is that I’m not eating x, y and z, but I’d like to contribute a dish or two that will accommodate those needs so that he/she doesn’t have to worry about it. I make it clear that they don’t need to alter their menu for me in any way and that I’ll be fine by bringing a few things. This takes the pressure off of them and ensures you have food to eat at any occasion. Nine times out of ten
though, the host has gladly collaborated with me on creating a delicious spread that could accommodate everyone’s dietary needs.
For not only my personal dining happiness but also my waistline, I’ll often eat a salad and an apple before attending a holiday party or large event. This ensures I don’t show up ravenous and ready to make horrible food decisions.
Research has also shown that you’ll likely consume up to 30% less calories by eating an apple
before each meal. Not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, it keeps you from overeating and packing on the “holiday hundred!” The other thing to remember is to load your plate with 75% vegetables (and I’m not talkin’ mashed potatoes here). When you’re at a party, balance your plate to
be about 75% veggies and 20% protein/high quality fats….I left you 5% for those delicious sweet treats. A girl’s gotta live a little, right?
I also keep to my regular meal plan on all “non-party” days and decide before showing up anywhere what treats will be deeply satisfying without inflaming my system. I know my limits so instead of piling on sweet treats that challenge my belly, I’ll load up on healthy food before and during the party and choose a treat or two to indulge in at the event… Indulging in five treats, now that’s a different story for me. It never goes well.
IDEAS FOR GRAIN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE AND SOY-FREE HOLIDAY RECIPES
If you’re hosting, congratulations! I’m about to show you how easy it is to put on a holiday spread that everyone will love. They probably won’t even notice that it’s healthy! 😉
• Deliciously Organic – this is my #1 favorite resource for all recipes delicious,
traditional and autoimmune friendly. Carrie does a kick-butt job of highlighting who her recipes accommodate. She also provides menu plans and has a lovely cookbook. *Special note – for those dealing with Candida or who want to watch their sugar intake, reduce the natural sweeteners in these recipes. The dishes will still taste great!
• Alton Brown’s Brined & Roasted Turkey – The ONLY way to make a Turkey. I’ve been using Alton Brown’s brining method for years and it’s full-proof. Full-proof, I say!
• Empowered Sustenance – A make-ahead Thanksgiving feast – what?!? This is the jackpot for my family as the menu and plan is simple, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and low sugar.
• Whisking & Writing – vegetarian, gluten-free and relatively soy-free holiday menu. Whenever I’m faced with a recipe with soy, I substitute with Coconut Aminos. Works like a charm!
SAMPLE THANKSGIVING MENU
You’ll see below that I’m all about taking delicious recipes and tweaking them for the needs of my family and friends. You can do this too! This menu accommodates both a vegetarian and an autoimmune-Paleo family with restrictions ranging from gluten, eggs and dairy to nuts. Luckily, wine is still on the menu! *wink*
• Buttered Pancetta-Sage Turkey & Gravy (Paleo – I’ll omit the flour and sub teeny amt of cornstarch)
• Wild Mushroom Gravy (Vegetarian – I’ll omit the flour and sub teeny amt of cornstarch)
• Cranberry Sauce with Ginger (for everyone – last year I halved the sugar and threw in a cardamom pod to raves)
• Warm Chard Salad with Raisins (for everyone – I’ll omit the bacon and add apricots this go-around)
• Orange and Maple-glazed Brussell Sprouts (for everyone)
• Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole (for everyone – if you omit the bacon. I usually just make two separate pans)
• Paleo Vegetable Stuffing or Grain-free “Cornbread Stuffing (for everyone – I’ll make half with sausage and half without)
• Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Cauliflower “Potatoes” (Vegetarian – sub olive oil in any recipe to make dairy free. *Also, I will not use margarine, it’s not a healthy product. Subs olive oil or butter from pastured cows instead (think Organic Valley, KerryGold)
• Pumpkin Pie (omitting almond milk and substituting coconut milk for those with nut allergies)