Do y’all look forward to the cozy layering this time of year? The sweaters, scarves and boots? They really do come in handy when our bodies seem to add a few extra layers, aka the muffin top, with all the amazing holiday foods. From Halloween candy to the Thanksgiving feast and Christmas cookies, it’s a season full of rich food traditions. For those dealing with food allergies, it can be even tougher, because indulging here and there can bring way more complications than a few extra pounds. If you find yourself in this growing group, or hosting some who are, then you don’t want to miss this post. Because today I’m sharing some hope for the holiday menu when you have food allergies.
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A Food Allergy Story
Each story is different. Mine began 16 years ago, by eliminating dairy. You can read a little more about my story here. Then about 7 years ago gluten was added. Since then it’s just become hard to keep track of – eggs, corn, rice, beans, almonds, peanuts, apples, bananas … and the list goes on. For me, they trigger migraines and nausea. Some foods trigger an immediate migraine, others seem to build up until they hit a random tipping point. Yes, it’s annoying. But it’s nowhere near as bad as some diagnosed with Celiac disease who can find themselves messed up for 2 weeks after having an accidental 1/8 tsp of gluten
Every person and journey is different. Whatever the list includes, there’s always a bit of grief that comes with the loss of another favorite food. It may sound silly, I know, until you stop think about how much of our holiday culture includes food and treats. Christmas candy, many dark syrups and sodas, some items containing natural flavors, casseroles, cakes, pies and Christmas cookies … basically all the good stuff.
My absolute favorite Gluten-free cookbook is called Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone. Not only was she the founding Editor-in-chief of Everyday with Rachel Ray, but she has made multiple media appearances and works with a variety of brands. I always recommed this book to my friends facing a new diagnosis that includes avoiding gluten. It makes the transition more manageable.
One of my favorite recipes from this book is Isaiah’s Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping. Everyone knows that pumpkin anything is a treat this time of year. I like to add mini chocolate chips to mine too!
In their younger days if my kids saw me making cookies, they would ask if they were chocolate chip, to which I would respond, “Is there another kind?” Cookies are my favorite., especially when they involve chocolate. Silvana’s Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies actually taste like a chocolate chip cookie! They are very tasty and they don’t crumble when you look at them or get ridiculously hard in a day or two. If you’ve had many gluten free cookies, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Paleo Comfort Foods
Yourdictionary.com defines the Paleo Diet as ” a diet with a focus on eating foods a caveman would’ve eaten, including meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and nuts, while avoiding processed food, sugar, starches, grains, legumes and dairy.” And the “diet” part doesn’t mean a 8-week plan to lose weight, it means a way of eating for life.
Several years ago my friend Traci over at Beneath My Heart did a Whole 30 Diet for a month to detox and prepare for a more Paleo diet. I decided to join her and I could not believe the difference I saw in terms of energy, better sleep, less aches and pains, no bloating and I lost some extra weight. It’s what motivated me to switch to a mostly Paleo diet at home. I do still have to substitute for almond flour, bananas, apples and a few other items, but it seems to fit with my dietary needs better than anything else.
After plopping down on the floor at the local bookstore and combing through all the cookbooks, Paleo Comfort Foods by Charles & Julie Mayfield is the first one I bought. And two years ago was the first time I made a completely Paleo Easter dinner, plus a few extra non-paleo items for the family.
Their Breakfast Sausage shows up quite regularly on my plate sauteed with roasted sweet potatoes, coconut oil, cinnamon, cloves and garlic salt. It’s filling and I like knowing I’ve already had a serving or two of veggies before I get up from the breakfast table.
My other traditional holiday favorites in the Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook are Creamed Spinach and Sweet Potato Casserole. The Sauteed Apples make a tasty almost-dessert too, and if you’re allergic to apples you can substitute pears.
Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods
They also came out with another cookbook a few years ago titled Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods. I already knew I liked their recipes and with Quick & Easy in the title it wasn’t a tough decision at all.
One of my Thanksgiving menu favorites is stuffing, which in my opinion is about 87% gluten. Their Sausage and Apple Stuffing is not the kind my Mama made growing up, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and always make a batch with pears instead of apples every Thanksgiving.
Here’s hope for the Holiday Menu when you have Food Allergies
There are so many cookbooks and websites with paleo and/or gluten-free recipes it would take weeks to wade through them all. Whether these are the food sensitivity issues that you or your guests have to deal with, or if you just want to push away from the table with a full heart instead of a stuffed belly, know that there are options. Then instead of wearing those cozy sweaters and layers to hide the fullness of the season, you can grab them because you just like the style.
What recipes, authors or websites have you found helpful for food allergies or restricted diets? Please share in the comment section below. I’m confident that many of us could use some fresh ideas!