Have a Jolly, Gluten-Free Holiday Season!

by Alyssa Simpson, RD, CDE, CLT

Season’s Greetings! The holidays are devoted to family, friends and good food. If you have to avoid gluten because of a medical condition or sensitivity, it can be challenging to enjoy all that the season has to offer. With these suggestions, we hope everyone can have a festive and filling holiday season.

The most important part to successfully enjoying a gluten-free holiday is planning ahead. The simplest solution for avoiding potentially harmful foods is to eat before arriving at gatherings and parties. Alternatively, talk to the host – explain your situation and offer to bring a gluten-free dish. This is a great opportunity to teach friends and family a little bit more about your condition.

Baking

For many, baking pies, cakes and cookies is a tradition that can’t be overlooked. For members of the family with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, recipes can be modified to use a gluten-free flour blend so your favorite treats are still safe to eat.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Use as you would regular flour, stir before use.

Dining

Holiday staples like stuffing and gravy are usually not options for the gluten-free crowd; but with simple substitutions and a little creativity, most of these dishes can be made safe. Consider swapping out bread cubes in stuffing for quinoa or using cornstarch to thicken gravy rather than flour.

Be aware – cross contamination can occur between dishes if the same utensils are used. Many packaged foods can contain gluten even if the ingredients don’t include wheat, rye or barley. Ingredients such as modified food starch, malt or soy sauce also contain gluten.

Drinking

Luckily, many wines and spirits are gluten-free! Liquors made from gluten grains including gin, whiskey and some vodkas may be risky because their safety depends on distillation practices. It’s safest to stick with potato-based vodkas, rum and tequila. Wine is trickier, but usually gluten-free. In cases of dessert wines, or wines with added colors or flavors, it is best to check with the manufacturer.

Beer is generally not gluten-free but many craft breweries have released gluten-free offerings in recent years. These beers use sorghum, corn or buckwheat and have similar characteristics to their more traditional cousins. Avoid products like Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade as these products frequently use malt, which contains gluten.

Always read the label! If you are unsure whether a product is gluten-free, checking the label is always the first place to start. If you are still unsure, most manufacturers will have that information available on their website.

Do you have questions or concerns about gluten-free menu options? Set up a consultation to discuss how preparing these dishes can be easy and fun!

Gluten-Free Coconut Meringue Cookies

2 Egg Whites, at room temperature

1 Pinch Salt

1/4 Cup Sugar

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/4 Cup Monk Fruit In The Raw® Bag

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250° F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add salt and beat until the whites form soft peaks. While beating, slowly add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time; this should take 1 minute. Continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks. Using a flexible spatula, fold in the coconut, Monk Fruit In The Raw® Bakers Bag, and vanilla.

3. Drop walnut–size mounds of the meringue onto the lined baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. With the back of the spoon, smooth and slightly flatten the meringue into even mounds.

4. Bake the cookies for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the closed oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until they are crisp in the center.