For those of us who need to watch what we eat, whether for dietary or allergy reasons, there are ways to still enjoy the holidays, but it takes some initiative on our parts.
1. You can host: If you invite folks to your place, you can simply incorporate what other family members want to bring into a menu of your own choosing. Then you’ll have a combination of the foods you make which you can eat and the traditional dishes the rest of the family still like to enjoy.
2. You can contribute: If you know there are certain dishes which everyone wants like a green bean casserole, you can offer to bring a revamped version so you can enjoy it as well as the others. If folks are nervous about you messing up their favorite dish, you can offer to bring a similar dish so folks can have a little bit of both.
3. You can inquire: If a family member or friend is hosting, ask them how they are going to cook a particular dish and whether they might be able to do it a tad bit differently this year. Can they roast the butternut squash with olive oil instead of butter? Would they be willing to purchase a dairy free “ice cream” for that apple pie?
4. You can teach: What I’ve encountered most is that folks are very willing to help me be able to eat at a holiday dinner, but they simply don’t know how to go about doing it. So, I’ve learned to answer their questions with particular tips. If they want to replace ricotta cheese in a recipe, I tell them how to use silken tofu. If they think that making a gluten free apple pie might be too difficult for them, I suggest a gluten free apple crisp. If they don’t know where to purchase a certain type of flour, I tell them. If you’re prepared to provide the necessary information, people are usually happy to accommodate your needs.
5. You can learn: The other situation I’ve experienced is that many folks with newly acquired dietary restrictions or food allergies don’t know for themselves how to revamp traditional holidays dishes which accommodates their needs and which the non-food issue people will actually like. In these cases, you can learn how to cook to meet the needs. In the posts following this, I will focus on certain traditional holiday foods to show folks how to create healthier, allergen friendly versions.