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When Your Child has Celiac Disease and Food Allergies: A Holiday How-To

By Jackie Ourman of C.A.F.E.

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

Holidays can sometimes be so anti-climactic. We're conditioned to have incredible expectations for big events at the end of the year and ultimately, many of us end up feeling insufficient, inadequate or disappointed in some way.  This is human nature at its finest. Having a food allergy or celiac disease does not help with this phenomenon.  I sound like a pessimist, don't I? I'm not. I'm a realist.

I think my realism shields me from this big letdown a bit. I don't go into the holidays as a dreamer. My eyes are wide open to the reality that each celebration, while presenting us with a wonderful opportunity to connect with family and friends, can also be somewhat of a minefield for my children with life-threatening food allergies as well as for my son and I who have celiac disease. As a result, I think about how to plan and prepare to get through them ok. I focus on this quite a bit. Controlling our environment is key and when I can't do so, I rely on educating my kids as much as possible before we go to a celebration at someone else's home.

I prefer to host our Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve celebrations. In doing so, I spend a great deal of time preparing foods worthy of each feast, yet gluten-free and allergy-friendly. To take a bit of the burden off of myself, I ask my mom and mother-in-law to help by bringing their own specialty dishes. They understand our dietary restrictions and always help by preparing foods that are safe for us to eat. When others offer to bring food, I thank them but kindly explain it is easier for me if they don't. At this point, so many of our friends and family get it and just let me do my thing.

If I'm not hosting, I generally bring one or two of my own specialty dishes to the party. However, before we leave, I'll pack up portions for the kids to bring along with us. You never know how the food might be cross-contaminated with serve ware once it’s on the table. I also talk to the kids at length about the "rules" before we go parties.  They understand not to eat anything unless I give it to them when we are out of the house. This straightforward directive is important. Ambiguity about what they can and cannot eat could cause potential reactions.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, it’s time to share some great recipes you can use to host or bring to your own family celebrations. While food can be challenging for those of us with celiac disease and/or allergies, there is still plenty delicious food out there for us to enjoy. I went to culinary school to regain my passion for food and share it with my children. What better time to do so than over the holidays? I want my children to remember good times with food too, not just stressful situations.

Here are some dishes I recommend for Thanksgiving:


This Roasted Turkey is tried and true and much easier than you might think to prepare.


   baked potato     

Twice Baked Potatoes and Grilled Crostini with Goat Cheese  and Pear over Mixed Greens round out the meal nicely.



skillet cornbread

Of course, we always have some Homemade Mac and Cheese
on the table as well! Throw in this Skillet Cornbread with Honey and Thyme and I think you should be all set!




Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

For dessert, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and, because I am a chocoholic, I’ll recommend you try these Magic Cookie Bars as well!




For more recipes and inspiration, check out my Thanksgiving and Holiday Pinterest boards or visit my website where I post new recipes every week. I hope you and your families have a wonderful and safe holiday filled with love and great food!

- Jackie Ourman

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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