GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY CHEAT SHEET

Tasty recipes and timeless tips for navigating the holiday season sans gluten—whether it’s your first gluten-free holiday or your umpteenth.
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’Tis the season for eating, drinking, and making merry. But if you are on a gluten-free diet, it’s not the season to be complacent because gluten lurks at every turn. So it pays to be prepared with gluten-free ideas and products to help you maneuver through common holiday-oriented situations. Here are a few good tricks to keep in your back pocket.

Maple Caramel Apple Tart

Looking for an energy boost? Stock up on snacks that give you staying power such as nuts, nut butter sandwiches, gluten-free jerky, or gluten-free protein bars. Keep these protein-packed snacks on hand, and pack them in your purse or coat pocket before you head to the mall, even if you don’t plan to be out for long. This time of year, you never know when you might run into a great sale or long lines that turn a one-hour shopping trip into an all-day affair.

In need of a hot drink? Whether you’re out caroling, viewing holiday light displays, ice skating, or shoveling snow, it’s easy to get chilled. Unfortunately, canned soups, broths, some multi-ingredient teas, and coffee substitutes are all common sources of hidden gluten, so you have to plan ahead.

Seek out a seasonal tea to get you in the spirit. Certified gluten-free varieties are perfect choices. For something satisfying and warming, yet very different, try one of Numi’s Organic Savory Teas. These vegetable, spice, and decaf tea blends are really more like light soups. But with only 5 or fewer calories, they won’t weigh you down late at night or in-between meals. Flavors include Fennel Spice, Spinach Chive, Broccoli Cilantro, Tomato Mint, Beet Cabbage, and Carrot Curry, or you can try the Garden Sampler box for a variety.

What about holiday parties? There are several different things you can do. Try talking with the hostess a few days in advance, tell her that you eat gluten free, and politely ask what types of foods will be served. You never know—maybe she eats gluten free, too! If she doesn’t—and if it sounds like most of the food will contain gluten—prepare ahead of time by eating some protein such as chicken or turkey slices before the party to keep you satiated. Then you can just nibble on undeniably safe choices (e.g., vegetables dipped in guacamole or hummus) while at the party. It’s also a good idea to bring a gluten-free dish that you made. It’s a nice gesture, and it gives you one guaranteed safe option.

For casual, appetizer-based parties, make a homemade garlic bean dip or guacamole with fresh vegetable crudités and gluten-free crackers. Or arrange a platter with small bowls of nuts, organic cheese cubes, and fruit. For desserts, consider bringing homemade gluten-free or grain-free ginger cookies or butter cookies. For holiday meal potlucks, prepare tasty dishes with festive seasonal foods, such as a wild rice pilaf with vegetables and nuts; butternut squash with fresh sage; garlic butter roasted mushrooms; or a simple kale salad with oranges and dried cranberries. Or try the recipes here!

Savory Sweet Potato Balls

Click here for the Savory Sweet Potato Balls recipe (pictured left).

Click here for the Maple Caramel Apple Tart recipe (pictured above).

Photos: Pornchai Mittongtare

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