[Note from the editor: Paul is Shari’s son and the reason that she started this journey. Today he’s sharing some tips on how to make sure that holiday eating is an inclusive and joyful activity for everyone!]
The Holiday Season, it’s a time of entertaining and spending time with family and friends, with warmth and love all around, and weeks upon weeks of feasts. As a result, the holidays can be one of, if not the, most difficult times of the year for those of us with even mild dietary restrictions. From potlucks to catered corporate parties, it’s easy for allergy concerns to disrupt what should really be feelings of joy and inclusion.
Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind as this season arrives. My hope is that with a little bit of attention and effort applied at the right time and place, your holiday season can be stress-free and you can focus more on what really matters—enjoying the happiness and warmth of the season.
- Be comfortable with your restrictions. Everyone is entitled to experiencing holiday joy through food. Especially at a time where the conversation about dietary restrictions is so open, you should have absolutely no shame about your dietary restrictions.
- Get in touch. Once you accept an invitation, get in touch with whoever’s in charge of the food –be it the host(ess) or the person in charge of catering. The key is to make life easy for the host. Mentioning your restrictions with clear and concise action items they can add to their checklist will make it far simpler for them to work with your dietary needs… Here are some questions that I like to ask:
- Are you able to use easy substitutes in a couple of dishes? (i.e. olive oil rather than butter in turkey and mashed potatoes)
- Is there anything I can help with?
- Is it alright if I provide some recipe/ingredient/brand suggestions?
- Are there any dishes that you’d prefer that I prepared?
- Be prepared. In many cases, getting in touch with a caterer at a work event can be a fruitless venture. Here are a few ways to make it a non-issue:
- Eat filling, satisfying snacks and meals throughout the day.
- If your event is lengthy, bring your own snacks. And on this note…
- Treat yourself! The more satisfying the food you can eat, the less you’ll mind letting those pretty little hors d’oeuvres float by. This will keep you focused on all the delicious things you can eat instead of being reminded of what you cannot.
- Pick your battles & don’t sweat the small things. There will be some tough days and some great ones, but let home be home, with a nice plate of allergen-free cookies waiting for you.
There are a number of great dessert recipes on this website, and a few more seasonal recipes will be arriving throughout the next couple of months. In the meantime, here are another couple of savory snack ideas that may be helpful to keep you and those close to you satisfied as you party-hop this holiday season:
- Pizza bites. Allergen-free dough (Trader Joe’s flatbread if you can use it, or a batch of Bob’s Red Mill/other pizza dough mix), a little sauce, some Daiya shredded cheese, and toppings of your choice
- Stuffed mushroom caps. Stuffed with minced mushroom stems and allergen-free breadcrumbs toasted in Soy-Free Earth Balance with herbs and spices added, and a little hunk of Daiya cream-cheese in the center for a delicious surprise.
- Bacon-wrapped anything. Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, etc.
Let us know if you have any favorite snacks, tips or tricks of your own that we can share with this great community!
Here’s to a wonderful holiday season!
Pssst… you might enjoy some of these dishes for your holiday meal: Sweet potato casserole // Brownies // Pumpkin & Gingerbread muffins. Remember to check back every Monday for more fun holiday dishes!