Monday, December 2, 2013

Gluten Free Holidays

A couple of years ago I was interviewing a turkey farmer for my Thanksgiving show. I was in his office, where I saw a copy of Living Without my absolute favorite gluten free website and magazine. I asked the farmer if he was going to advertise in the magazine, and he replied he thought the whole gluten free craze was a fad that would die out soon.

I chose not to respond, in the spirit of wanting to get an interview on organic turkeys for the holiday, but I really disagreed with him. Gluten free living is not something that most people enjoy or seek out because they want to be special. It is usually a long process to give into the reality of the situation. We now have a great report from the Institute for Responsible Technology that links GMO's to the rise in gluten issues. 

Being gluten free is not a fad. The person being gluten free sticks to it, mainly because they get really really sick if they don't. I have found in my practice an explosion of gluten intolerance and sensitivity. Amazing things can happen when people stop eating gluten. Great tips on this can be found on the above link for Living Without.

But what do you do for the holidays? It can be a real, true pain to celebrate with friends, co-workers and family if you must avoid gluten. Here are a few tips and helpful links to make your holidays happy, healthy and gluten free.

If traveling, pack an extra bag filled with your food substitutes. You have to check them in if they are liquids, but it is worth the trouble.

Communicate with your holiday destination hosts, either hotels, family or friends. Offer to bring food, help cook, or send them gluten free food mixes ahead of time.

Map out your destination. A really great couple of apps from helps you to locate grocery stores and restaurants that are gluten free or carry the products.

There are so many gluten free products on the market if you want to indulge in baking. Here are some of my personal favorites: This is the link for Bob's Red Mill pie crust and it is amazing. Bob's Red Mill has many other gluten free flours, mixes and produts.

King Aurthur Flour has an entire line of gluten free baking mixes, recipes and supplies 

Glutino has great mixes, my personal favorite is the white sandwich bread. 

These mixes are available in most grocery stores or online. 

The trick to cakes and breads if they call for eggs and you can eat them is to separate the egg yolks from the whites. Mix in the yolks to the mix, and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form

When all ingredients in the mix or recipe have been incorporated, the trick is to fold in the egg whites at the end. This gives great levity to the recipe.

Another trick with gluten free baking, if you can tolerate it, is adding butter milk instead of water or milk. And yet another trick is to use coconut milk as the liquid.

There are more blogs and websites than I could possibly lead you to in this post, but if you google Gluten Free, you will be led to thousands of them. My personal favorite is Gluten Free Girl. and for those who are also wanting gluten free and sugar free this is an excellent resource 

The best thing to do is offer to bring food to your holiday parties so you have something to eat. If you are going to a restaurant party, call them ahead of time to see what your options are, it is worth the time, and remember, mostly people want to make you happy and feel welcomed at their events. A little communication before hand is worth the effort.

But most of all, enjoy yourself. It really is a great time of year, and there is no need for you to suffer or stress about what you can and can not eat. 

With a little planning, communication and creativity, everyone can have fun. Make sure to listen to the podcast for a great discussion and more ideas on gluten free holiday strategies

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