If you or someone in your family or friendship circle has been diagnosed recently with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or allergies to other foods, you may not feel on top of your game when it comes to holiday gatherings and the foods they bring. This week is time to enjoy Thanksgiving, a holiday that in the US traditionally includes turkey, complete with stuffing and gravy, mashed and sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and the ubiquitous green bean casserole in many homes. The obvious culprits for allergic reactions for those with food allergies here are stuffing and pumpkin pie. But those aren’t the only potential problem foods.
Many of us grew up in households where dinner preparation was a big affair, and while the cooking was going on, bowls of nuts and fruits sat out on the table for snacking. If you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, this can be a problem, and points to the number one tip for holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving:
If you are going to someone’s house for dinner, let them know in advance of your food allergies. It is a fact that some find even family members lacking compassion or willingness to understand, but generally speaking, if you are open about your allergies, people will be willing to accommodate in some way, even if it’s asking you to bring something safe for yourself to eat (tip #2.) This is something to consider, regardless, as many foods could contain hidden allergens. For instance, commercial cream of mushroom soups are not gluten free (remember that green bean casserole?) Stuffing may be made with not only gluten-containing bread, but nuts as well.
Steering clear of foods like gravy that are heavy in gluten, may seem like a real downer, but you can prepare in advance by making creative allergy-free dishes at home to bring and share, and that may add to the list of must-have items for future years for the whole group. Flip through cooking and home magazines for ideas, and substitute if needed.
If you are not a confident cook, there are gluten- and allergen-free options on the market, but research in advance to find those that are more likely certified free and made in a dedicated facility. Don’t hesitate to contact a company to be sure, or to leave an item on the grocery shelf if it’s not clear it’s safe.
Above all, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with family and friends. Make sure in advance that you can do so safely, and as you are gathering around the table to express gratitude for life’s abundance, remember to be thankful for a growing assembly of safe, and tasty, food options on the market.