Hello Friends! I'm so excited today to have a guest post written by Veronica Lamb with Radiant Life Coaching. Veronica works with her clients to bring healthy habits to the forefront of their lives so they can go out into the world and effect change. I've included her complete bio at the end of the article, including where you can connect with her. I love her message and straightforward approach to meal planning.
This guest post is the beginning of a series focused around the holidays and how we can reduce stress, keep it on the clean(er) side and come out minus the extra 5LBS that can often plague us. I hope you enjoy this and look forward for more to help you manage the holidays with ease.
Now, on to the post!
Create an Allergy Free Holiday Meal with Ease
Several years ago, I was coming up on the holidays and was nearly in tears.
I felt completely overwhelmed at the idea of creating a traditional holiday meal that was allergy friendly. We discovered that both my daughter and I were sensitive to many items including most preservatives, gluten, dairy, and a host of other things. In total, we had a list of about 20 items we had to avoid.
By this time in life, our holiday guest list had crept up to 10 to 16 people even though we lived thousands of miles away from family. We loved sharing the holidays with friends that didn’t have family in the area either. We were involved in several ministries, mentoring and befriending those coming out of difficult times, such as human trafficking, homelessness, and/or addictions. We always invited them to join us, for some, it was the first home cooked Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday meal they had ever experienced.
Everyone was looking forward to coming over, but how was I going to pull off a gluten free, dairy free, (might as well be everything free) meal? What the heck?! I wanted all the tradition! A delicious meal, all the guests to enjoy the holiday spirit, but none of us to get sick. AND I didn’t want to go crazy in the process.
Honestly, the first holiday was rough, but then I got a handle on it.
Here’s my little guide to making an allergy friendly meal without losing you mind. (Did I mention that my family has traveled out to us for the holidays and they LOVED the food too! Even asked for seconds!)
1 – Make a Plan.
Start thinking about your holiday meals now. Even if you hate planning. Figure out what the essential elements of your meal will be – Turkey? Ham? Mashed potatoes and/or Stuffing? Vegetables? Dessert? Find solid, highly recommended allergy friendly recipes for your essential dishes.
2 – Take Action
Buy your ingredients in advance ( the day before doesn’t count). The last thing you want is to not be able to find a key alternative ingredient in your local stores when you’re down to the last minute. Check out the grocery stores, health food stores, even online ordering options. If you are nervous about making one of the essential dishes, try it out now. Stuffing for Tuesday dinner anyone??
3 – Set a Schedule
Look at cooking temperatures & times to determine when you need to cook each dish & how you can multi-task. The more efficiently you plan your day, the less you will be stressed on that day. Perhaps you can cook a dish or two the night before? Can you use a slow cooker for anything? Look at delegating tasks to your family or guests. Spouse in charge of any dishes? Provide the recipe with clear instructions and a timeline that fits in with your cooking schedule. Can your guests bring some dishes already cooked? Let them know when to arrive and if they will be able to use your oven to reheat or not. Got kids – task them with setting the table & answering the door.
4 – Chill Out
With all your prep done, recipes researched, schedule set, items delegated out – plan to sit down and watch the parade with your family. Grab some board games to play with your guests. Rally everyone around to watch the game on TV. Plan an afternoon walk or short hike. Join the kids for some backyard football. Don’t sweat the small stuff in the kitchen, even if your gravy comes out lumpy or the turkey is a little dry – at least you got to spend the day with friends & family instead of all day in the kitchen. Enjoy making some good memories with your family & friends.
Perhaps your holidays are always for close family only. Try to open up a bit more this year. Invite someone else over. A close friend, an acquaintance, or the homeless person you always see but never know what to say. If you've never reached out to others in this way, it may feel a little uncomfortable. You're right. Inviting others over may increase the chance of stress, but you’ve reduced the potential for kitchen stress and made yourself available to prioritize spending time with others this holiday. Why not take the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life too? I can't promise it will be perfect, but it will be beautiful.
Veronica Lamb with Radiant Life Coaching
Veronica Lamb with Radiant Life Consulting coaches Change Makers and community advocates to prioritize healthy habits in their own lives so they can get fueled up, out the door, actively being the change they were created to be in this world. Find her online at Facebook Group and Instagram.
Veronica’s Healthy Holidays course has opened up again this year. In this course, she will prepare you to create a stress-free holiday meal that includes Gluten Free, Dairy Free, & Egg Free recipes; a shopping list; and a schedule that ensures your day will run smoothly – leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the holiday spirit. Her learned lessons in preparing allergy-free meals for a crowd are boiled down to 4 key steps. Enjoy this article and click on the links for more support.