12 Ideas for Handling Upcoming Gluten-Free Holidays
Here come the holidays… Are you ready to handle them gluten free for yourself, spouse or special kiddos? Whether it’s your first gluten-free Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah or it’s been so long you’ve lost count; we’re here to help you get over some of the rough spots.
However, (I can’t emphasize enough…), you MUST prepare ahead. If we’ve learned anything from Covid-19, it’s that in times like this, NO ONE was really prepared—and especially underprepared were gluten free consumers—because the store aisles were emptied fast!
Okay… Now that you’ve heard my holiday shopping advice, here are 12 Gluten Free tips to help you navigate holiday gatherings, because as gluten-free folks, we often face food related gatherings with some trepidation.
Not all turkey meat is gluten free-so check the label (i.e. Butterball is a good option). Then you can enjoy the holiday bird knowing it hasn’t been injected with harmful nitrates, MSG or other preservatives or seasonings or marinades or other elements containing gluten. And remind whoever is doing the cooking to stay away from stuffing the turkey with gluten-containing bread or slathered in gravy made with wheat flour. Stuffing made in a casserole dish works for everyone & eliminates the mess!
Most ham is also gluten free, but you do have to find out if in the curing process they used gluten or if the glaze contains wheat starch. (Just check the label & generally Hormel is mostly a safe option.)
Cooking bags are great ways to keep meats moist, but they can be minefields for unsuspecting gluten-free diners. Make sure and coat the inside of the bag with gluten free flour to keep it from exploding.
Traditional mashed and sweet potato recipes are often gluten free, but sprinkle in just a little onion soup mix and a spoonful of sour cream to the potatoes to add an irresistible flavor.
Vegetables and fruit are gluten-free go-to's, so hopefully they’ll be plentiful on the holiday table. A bright, healthy vegetable or fruit platter is a nice break from all the rich food we find during the season.
It may make you feel like an ungrateful guest, but you have to tell any host not familiar with the gluten-free diet about cross-contamination issues. It does no good for your sister-in-law to make a gluten-free cake if she frosts it with the same icing & knife used on the gluten-filled cookies.
If dinner is served buffet style, don’t hesitate to go first. So you’ll know serving spoons haven’t migrated from one dish to another.
If you have a gluten-free child, and especially if this is his or her first holiday on the diet, take any extra steps to be sure there will be plenty of gluten-free options, even in someone else’s home. It can be especially hard for kids to pass on breads and desserts, so make sure you’ve got these covered.
If your child is old enough to fill his or her own plate, make sure he or she understands it’s important to take the same kind of precautions as in a restaurant and verify the gluten-free status of foods.
You’ve surely heard it before, but it’s so important it’s worth repeating—bring something you know is gluten free to any holiday dinner you attend. You’ll be sure to have something to eat just in case your mother-in-law accidentally uses her gluten-filled-bouillons, cream of soups or other contaminated ingredients in the meal. Just be prepared! It reduces the stress if you simply bring a special dish you really love.
If guests offer to bring something, ask them to provide things that are naturally gluten free: drinks, flowers or a vegetable or fruit tray. They’ll feel included, and you won’t have to worry about a gluten-containing item working its way onto the table.
Above all, enjoy the season by preparing as much as you can in advance to leave some time to share important holiday traditions that don’t have anything to do with the food. ☺