Gluten Free Holidays
The holidays can be cumbersome for gluten free types. So many parties, dinners, office gatherings...all of them involving food. It is easy for others to forget about your gluten sensitivity and, let's be realistic, you don't want to be the poor sad partygoer stuck on the fringes of the festivities explaining your dietary needs all night. What you need is a solid strategy for successful celebrating. Here are some ways to survive the holidays. Gluten Free.
Eat Before You Go -This is one of the most useful tips in your strategy for success. Understand that there will likely be a beautiful spread of enticing dishes laced with gluten at any given party. Have a decent meal before you go that includes healthy foods you can safely eat. Have 3 ounces of grilled chicken or steak and a nice big salad as your main meal before the party. Above all, do not head for the party when you are hungry. Do not forego your main meal thinking that you will save calories and only eat a tiny bit at the party instead. Guaranteed, this will not happen so eat before you go and remind yourself periodically that you have already had dinner and you are not really hungry.
Bring a Dish (or two) to Share - It can be awkward to accept a dinner invitation, only to refrain from eating dinner because you are not sure where the gluten might be found on your plate. An easy remedy for this dilemma is to bring a couple of gluten free dishes to share. It is easier to just bring something without offering to do so up front. Many hosts insist that you bring nothing but your wonderful self and "don't worry about a thing, we have everything covered." Avoid this by simply bringing something with you in a nice festive dish. Leave the dish as a gift for your host! Here are some quick, easy, and delicious items that won't steal the show but will be enjoyed by all, especially you because you can rest assured that they are gluten free:
- Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower. Hard to believe, but mashed cauliflower is a fantastic substitute for mashed potatoes. Gluten free, low carb, and healthy, many people will not have a clue that these are really not mashed potatoes. Really.
- Bacon Wrapped Steamed Shrimp with Spicy Cocktail Sauce. You can't go wrong with this simple dish. Gluten free, low in calories, and a great protein source.
- Deviled Eggs. After all, it isn't really the holidays without deviled eggs.
Alas, you cannot always bring something to the party. Perhaps you are rushing from work straight to the festivities or dropping kids off at the sitters. Sometimes it is just not possible to prepare something in advance. No worries...
Party Strategically - Make your way to the appetizers early in the evening so you can scope out the offerings. Find the items that are as plainly prepared as possible. This means avoiding anything fried, baked, or breaded. "What else is there?!" you ask. Raw, minimally processed foods are more likely to be gluten free:
- Raw Vegetables. Do you really need the dip? The answer to that is NO, by the way.
- Steamed Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce.
- Fresh Sliced Fruit.
- Plainly grilled meats. Be careful with this, though. Many prepared spice mixes contain gluten and you never know what your host used to flavor these items. Don't let those meatballs fool you. They typically contain breadcrumbs.
Don't Drink Too Much - Let's face it. Many holiday celebrations involve beer, wine, champagne, spiked egg nog, hot buttered rum, and a host of other alcoholic beverages. Have a conversation with yourself before you head out to celebrate. Limit yourself to two alcoholic beverages for the evening. Doing this serves many useful purposes:
- Drinking excessively leads to eating excessively. When you start getting a buzz on, your resolve dwindles very quickly. Suddenly it is easy to talk yourself into partying it up just this once. You begin to wonder, "How much gluten could possibly be in that bite-size quiche that has been staring at me all night?" Perhaps you're starting to feel a little queasy from all that alcohol so you attempt to dampen the effects by visiting the appetizer table. It all goes down hill at this point so just avoid the debacle by limiting your alcohol intake. You will feel 100% better in the morning.
- You are less likely to drive buzzed if you limit yourself to two cocktails spread throughout the evening and intermixed with plain water and a gluten free snack or two.
- You are less likely do do or say something you will regret. Okay, this has nothing to do with a gluten free lifestyle but it does enhance your life in other ways.
Survive the holidays AND remain gluten free this year. Believe me, you'll be happy you followed these steps to ring in a great new year.