Are you facing the upcoming Holidays Gluten-Free?
Are you the parent of a gluten-free child?
Are you hosting a family with gluten sensitivies?
Yes. I feel ya!
Even though I am no longer gluten-free, I was for several years, as were my children. And I learned a few tricks to navigate traveling and holiday parties without feeling deprived.
Because who wants to sit back and watch everyone dig into a brownie sundae while munching on celery—not this gal! And definitely NOT my kiddos.
So how can you enjoy the Holiday parties and road trips to Grandma’s and maintain your holiday cheer?
Here are a few of my tips:
For some of you that is not possible or would be your worst nightmare. Ignore this tip.
For those of you who can host, you should. Yes it is more work, and yes you may have to clean (actually why don’t you let your guard down and be real with your friends and family and NOT stress about the condition of your house—they are there to see YOU, not your polished silver).
By hosting an event, you can control what is served and can guarantee that your health/or your child’s health will be protected.
For Thanksgiving or Christmas: Prepare the turkey to ensure the main course is gluten free. Make one or two sides and, of course, a dessert (because GF desserts overwhelm a lot of mainstream cooks). Your guests can bring stuffing, rolls, etc of their choice without having to worry if it’s ok for you.
For Parties: How about a Fiesta? Everyone loves Mexican and you can make meat and beans and ask people to contribute corn chips, corn tortillas and the toppings. What could be easier or more appealing?
By all means, let your guests know that you have a gluten sensitivity. This is not rude. What is rude is showing up to someone’s house and NOT eating a thing. That offends the most confident of chefs.
So with grace, explain that you have a food allergy/sensitivity and a restricted diet. Suggest that you can bring your own food to eat, but feel free to give suggestions if prompted. Remember most people want to be able to feed you, they just don’t know HOW to.
Never arrive anywhere or travel anywhere without an arsenal of gluten-free goodies.
Bring a hearty gluten-free dish to share with the crowd and then any fillers you or your child may need (and try to make them as similar to what is being served as possible.)
Reserve your favorite GF goodies for these special occasions so you can feel indulged and not deprived.
Gluten-Free Goodies that Travel Well
- Breakfast: Baggies of GF oats with dried fruit, nuts, or cinnamon. Add hot water when you arrive at your destination and breakfast is served.
- Packaged GF bars like LARABARS
- Cups of diced fruit or apples
- GF granola
- A box of your favorite GF cereal—we did that for many of our longer road trips to relatives.
- Homemade Trail Mix: Barabara’s GF cereal, Chex cereal, dried fruit, nuts and of course chocolate. I love to make a large batch and pack in snack sized baggies for the road.
- Popcorn: air popped or stove-popped
- Packages of nuts
- Yogurt and cheese as long as refrigeration is not a worry
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
- GF crackers and cookies
- Amy’s has wonderful Gluten-free freezer entrees to take and heat at your destination. (Their pizza is great for adults and kids who are attending a pizza party.)
Especially when dealing with children who have sensitivies or food allergies, it is important to not hide the issue.
Be sure to openly talk with your child about their issues at all times and remind them the importance of caring for their body. Don’t be sad when you are explaining their issues—be matter of fact. If you tell them how sorry you feel for them, your child will think there is something to be sad about. If they complain, say something like, “I know you are disappointed not to have that cake, but I brought your favorite cookie you picked out from the store last week. I wish I could have your cookie it looks so good!”
By putting a positive spin on the issue, your child will learn to take ownership of their health and will NOT feel like the victim.
You have to be your own advocate and protect your health.
It is embarrassing at times to ask to read labels of products used or to have someone tell you what is in your dish—but it is your health and unless it is a person with knowledge in food allergies, they may innocently include gluten and not realize it. And I can promise you, you are not offending the person by simply asking. Especially, if you do not complain about not being able to eat it!
In my own experience, I talk with the person before the event and then offer to help in the kitchen and casually ask again about ingredients, it typically goes over pretty smoothly.
Enjoy The Festivities
No matter what is served, remember that the holidays are the time to celebrate your blessings with families and friends.
You may have to pick up dinner on the way home from an event or scarf a GF bar down in the bathroom (because your host doesn’t understand you can’t eat dinner even after explaining yourself 6 times—oh, yeah, I have been there, done that!!)
Food may makes most people happy…but relationships matter more. Cherish those moments.