The holidays are supposed to be merry and bright, the most wonderful time of the year. But for those with celiac or gluten intolerance, it can be a challenging time. Don’t let it consume you! The following tips are my survival guide to staying gluten free this holiday season.
1. Be PREPARED: My first tip is to be prepared. Tis the season for festive parties and events and gatherings and cookie exchanges. Have a plan BEFORE you go – put a little forethought into what if anything you’re going to eat, so you can be just as jolly as the next old soul.
2. Focus on what you CAN eat: So often we find our gluten free selves coveting the appetizing foods everyone else is eating, only noticing those foods we can’t indulge. Instead, scan the table for what you CAN eat, the naturally gluten free foods like meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
3. Focus on the PEOPLE. The holidays can bring about anxiety in anyone avoiding gluten, as gluten filled foods are EVERYWHERE. And, these are the foods we love and look forward to every year – stuffings, cookies, breads, etc. Although each event seems to be centered around the food, keep it in perspective. The food is only a small part of why we gather during the holidays. Enjoying the friends and family you love is the most important part of the season.
4. CONTRIBUTE a gluten free dish: Many hosts ask for those invited to bring a dish. This is your chance to bring your favorite gluten free food to share, and it also ensures you will have something safe to eat.
5. Eat BEFORE you go: This is a tip I use often. There’s nothing worse than showing up for a party starving and then watching everyone else eat while you worry about everything you put in your mouth. I know I am much more likely to make a bad decision when I’m desperate and then pay for it later. A hearty snack before hand is my safe solution – just enough to ward of that animalistic hunger – but not enough so that I can’t enjoy whatever gluten free foods I might find while at the party.
6. Let the HOSTESS know you eat a gluten free diet: Special diets are not uncommon these days, so chances are you aren’t the only one restricted in what you can eat. And even if you are, gluten free is a lifestyle and part of that is getting over being embarrassed about saying what you can and cannot eat. Only you know what foods are best for your body, so don’t feel silly or high maintenance letting aunt so and so or cousin what’s her name know why you aren’t eating like you used to. Call beforehand and ask your hostess what is being served. He or she may be educated about a gluten free diet and may be able to tell you what foods contain gluten. But don’t ask or depend on him or her to cater to your needs. Simply letting your host know can help you know what foods are safe and also helps him or her understand why you are not sampling everything or not eating at all. This frees you up from feeling rude too.
7. CALL the catering company or the restaurant: If your holiday party is catered or is at a restaurant, call ahead to ask what dishes are gluten free. Nowadays, most restaurants are very aware of food allergies.
8. Beware of CROSS contamination: Just because a dish is gluten free, there’s always a chance for cross contamination either during preparation or at the serving table. It’s easy for someone to use the same preparation or serving utensils for both gluten and gluten free dishes.
9. Beware of HIDDEN sources of gluten: Check to make sure marinades, sauces, dressings, coatings, and breadings are gluten free.
10. Consider HOSTING a party yourself: Be the hostess with the mostest this season, using delicious gluten free alternatives for your table spread. It’s likely that no one will notice the difference, or you can choose to use gluten free as a great conversation starter. I find everyone is interested in learning what all the hype is about gluten and a gluten free diet. For flours, try Gluten Free Classical Blend by Authentic Foods, or try baking with almond flour. Use gluten free whole grains for side dishes like wild rice, quinoa, corn, etc. Spice it up with the many savory gluten free spices and blends. Substitute gluten free condiments like tamari instead of soy sauce, and use plant oils, vinegars, and mustards in your sauces and marinades. Prepare dishes that are centered on the many naturally gluten free foods like meats, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Are you new to eating gluten free or have you been advised to cut out gluten but don’t know where to start? I have written an ebook detailing the simple the method I used to detox gluten from my diet. It’s the perfect jumpstart into a gluten free life: The Fresh Start 10 Day Detox. Also, coming next month is my second gluten free ebook and program: Gluten Free Guide for Beginners, which will include my simple steps to going gluten free, the gluten free kitchen, the gluten free pantry, the gluten free restaurant guide, and 30 days of gluten free menus, each recipe with no more than about 5 ingredients! So stay tuned!Read More
I can’t think of a better breakfast for Christmas morning than fresh, warm cinnamon rolls. The aroma of cinnamon, the winter spice, conjures up fond memories of past Christmases and creates the perfect atmosphere for making new ones. Smells are tied to our memories and feelings, as the olfactory bulb is in a part of the brain that is closely associated with memory and emotions. In fact, smells can call up memories that lead to powerful responses instantly. Because cinnamon is also known to increase brain activity, cognitive processing, and attention, these easy to make cinnamon rolls make a good breakfast for the kids on school mornings as well.
Cinnamon, with its spicy and sweet taste, is not only warm and inviting for the colder months, but it also has a long history of being something of great value, dating back to Biblical times. In fact, at one time it was valued more than gold! This tubular exotic spice comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree, and when dried rolls into what we call a quill that can be ground into the cinnamon we recognize.
Surprisingly, cinnamon is one of the highest anti-oxidant foods and is prized for its aromatic and medicinal benefits. Its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent preservative for foods and a potentially effective medicine. Many natural dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, and chewing gum take advantage of cinnamon’s antiseptic and anesthetic principles. Cinnamon is also commonly found in natural products used to treat candida or yeast overgrowth.
Cinnamon promotes heart health, as it prevents blood clots and lowers cholesterol with its high fiber content.
Other than its nostalgic smell, what I love most about cinnamon is its ability to steady blood sugar, increase metabolism, and thereby help with weight loss and diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a scary epidemic in our country, and cinnamon has been shown to naturally regulate blood sugar levels while simultaneously increasing the activity of insulin and increasing the metabolism of glucose. Not only does cinnamon boost metabolism, but it does so in a way that prevents fat storage, leading to weight loss. Lastly, cinnamon also helps with weight loss as an appetite suppressant because it slows the time it takes a food to lead the stomach, leaving you feeling fuller longer and that means eating less.
Enjoy the many health benefits of cinnamon this season when you bake this old time favorite…only these have the added bonus of being gluten and dairy free.
- 3 cups almond flour (www.honeyvillegrains.com)
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup honey, a little more if you like your rolls sweeter
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded coconut
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut, sea salt, and baking soda.
- In a small bowl, combine coconut oil, honey, and eggs.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a dough forms.
- Dust a parchment lined baking sheet with a little almond flour.
- Roll out dough on the parchment lined baking sheet to a 9 x 13 rectangle.
- For the filling, pour honey over dough and use a brush or your fingers to smooth the honey over the sheet of dough.
- Sprinkle the sheet of dough with coconut, pecans, raisins, and cinnamon.
- Carefully roll up the dough tightly and seal to make one log.
- Using a knife, cut the log into 1 inch rolls and lay each roll flat on the parchment lined baking sheet. Makes about 10 rolls.
- Bake for 10 - 13 minutes, watching closely to not over bake.
- For the icing, slightly warm coconut oil, and stir in the honey and vanilla. Drizzle over warm rolls.