As we come into the season of cookies, pies and other yummy pastries, it can be hard to say no. But saying "no" isn't always necessary as it's important to remember healthy balance without going overboard during the festivities.
If you have a food intolerance or sensitivities, there are ways to help minimize your exposure to these foods and work around the ingredients that give you symptoms. In our house, we have a potato intolerance, egg intolerance and fruit intolerance, not to mention certain foods can't be combined such as potatoes and grains, eggs and grains and fruits with sugars. Although this sounds complicated, it's really not. We focus on the foods we can all enjoy, and I do enjoy baking, so there are a lot of baked goods to be found in our home this time of year.
If you're looking for recipes and you're a patient of PCNM, you can sign up to become a member on our website and enjoy a searchable database of recipes suitable for multiple food intolerances.
Many of these recipes list minor alterations that can be made for most everyone. There are also many vegan, gluten free or paleo blogs on the internet now which can help make searching for a suitable recipe easier. I love the Beaming Baker, Simply Recipes, Minimalist Baker and Yummly. I also have a Pinterest Page sectioned into recipe types which has over 200 recipes that are easily adjustable for most food intolerances. I have plans to develop a cookbook one day, but for now that is still just a work-in-progress!
For those who have had their food intolerances evaluated through our office, there is also the Windrose Clinic site, which hosts a searchable database of foods which have been evaluated for common food intolerances, be sure to get the access code from becoming a member on our site. You can also download the helpful app "Carroll Foods" to search while shopping.
Here are a few key tips for holiday baking and cooking to help adapt recipes:
For someone avoiding fruit, make sure to have rhubarb, rice vinegar, safflower oil and squash available for adaptations to recipes. Chocolate and vanilla are not considered fruits! Watch out for nutmeg, leave it out if it's in a recipe and cinnamon is not a fruit!
For someone avoiding refined sugars, maple sugar and maple syrup works excellent. You can also use coconut sugar, palm sugar, honey, stevia and monk fruit.
Egg substitutes for baking include "flax eggs" (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water, allow to sit 5-10 min), 1/4 cup mashed banana, pumpkin or applesauce. These work well for 1-2 eggs in a recipe.
If avoiding dairy, be careful of alternative milk products as they can contain one's combination intolerances. Make your own almond milk (super easy!) or use canned coconut milk. Use oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter.
If avoiding potato, don't forget about mashed cauliflower or mashed parsnips or turnips for meals. Get whole milk and dairy products to avoid hidden vitamin A palmitate (both a fruit and potato product), and use whole grains to avoid enriched grains, which contain synthetic B-vitamins. If you need baking powder without potato starch, make your own! It's 1 part baking soda + 3 parts corn starch. Look for unsalted butter and add your own sea salt to the recipe.
Some of my favorite holiday recipes include vegan fudge (made with nut butter and chocolate chips!), classic Christmas cut-out cookies, pumpkin pie (minus the nutmeg), maple syrup sweetened whipped cream, hot chocolate, popcorn and cardamom pecan cookies.
The last point to remember is that the holidays are not all about the food - it's about being together. The food can be great, but enjoying each other's company, catching up on life and soaking up and dishing out the love is really what it's all about. Show your love for your friends and family through non-food homemade gifts and crafts and spend time together playing board games, card games and telling funny stories. When it does come to food, if you eat a little of your food intolerance or sensitivity it's not the end of the world for most people. Food intolerances are generally frequency and dose dependent, so don't eat it every day and don't eat the whole plate of potatoes if you're potato intolerant. Each person is an individual and can handle different degrees of eating the foods that don't digest well. So do enjoy yourself and just get back on schedule the next day. Taking a couple caps of Gentian/Skullcap from the office can also be helpful!
If you have complicated dietary needs, consider offering to prepare the meals so you can have more control over the recipes, or offer to bring a dish or two to your event and eat a little something before you go so you don't get hungry. A pot luck style meal can help spread out the work of cooking among others and offer many choices of foods.
Enjoy the season!
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