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A Holiday Perspective from a Gluten-Free “Newbie”

By Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Thank you to Crunchmaster for making this how-to series possible! crunchmaster logo

Greetings, readers! No matter how much we may want to delay the clock, time marches on, and as we get older, it seems to sprint.  The holidays beckon!

As an Italian-American my entire life centers around family, food and festivities. We can make an event out of anything.  We love to get together and celebrate each other, and that always mean lots of food.

So, when I was diagnosed as having celiac disease, well over 50, it seemed like a quite daunting task to manage that lifestyle and still enjoy my cooking and baking.  Well, for any of you who are facing the same frustration as a “newbie," and wondering how to navigate the holiday season, I’m here to tell you it’s not only possible, but easier than you may think.

In the early hours of my diagnosis, and not having any knowledge of the disease, I thought, “Ok, so I can’t have bread or cake.” But I soon discovered that there are so many other intricacies of the gluten-free diet and it rapidly became evident that everything had to change if I was going to remain healthy. You see, once you embrace this change, it really gets much easier. Keep your pantry and food equipment separate (to avoid cross-contamination) from items that contain or process gluten and you’re good-to-go. If it's possible for you and your family, keep only gluten-free food in your home. Most of the time, your family will never know the difference.  Really!

So, back to topic,  My first holiday season diagnosed with celiac disease, I set out to make a gluten-free menu that was the same as those we were enjoying for decades. And it worked. As a matter of fact…it was great!

While it's great to convert old family favorites to a gluten-free version, don't be afraid to try new recipes.  My advice, whether you are converting old favorites or trying new dishes, is to start now.  The sooner the better!  Test your dishes with family and friends before Thanksgiving dinner so you can make adjustments if necessary.  Like with all new things, it can take some time to adjust to using new gluten-free ingredients you may never have worked with before.  Don't get discouraged; you'll get the hang of it!

gluten-free stuffing

If you are thinking of preparing a roasted turkey with all of the typical accompaniments, go for it!  Don't let a gluten-free diet hold you back.  I've been making my own version of gluten-free stuffing and I find that with no preservatives, all fresh and fragrant with its herbs and flavorful ingredients, it's actually a new family favorite!  (If that’s something you'd like to try, read my recipe and feel free to try it out for the holidays!)

If you're like me and love Italian cuisine and are interested in attempting a more traditional fare, check out the main dishes like “Nana’s Meatballs” or Lasagne Rollettes, or Eggplant Parmesan, or Chicken Franchese, or…well I can go on and on. For now, with Thanksgiving almost here, why not awaken the gluten-free chef within you?  Buon Appetitto!

- Annette Marie
Best Life Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Giveaway

As part of our holiday how-to series, NFCA is hosting a gluten-free giveaway!  Enter here for your chance to win a gluten-free prize pack from Crunchmaster.

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