-Article and recipes by Sarah Maughan, B.A, RHN
Hearing the words "Holiday Party" can be such a downer to those with allergies because often what goes through our heads are things like - "oh great another night of me starving", "I wonder how sick I will get from contamination" - or worse, a fear of using an epi-pen" And the usual onslaught of "oh great another night of people commenting on me not eating", or "oh great another night of hosts trying to be nice by serving plain everything". It can be awful, but it doesn't have to be! Here are my top holiday tips for surviving allergies and still having a blast!
1. If you're going to a party
- Bring your favourite crowd pleasing appetizer/main and/or dessert to share so you're guaranteed to be able to eat at least one thing and you're not singled out because other people will have some too (clear this with the host first)
- Talk to the host, if you feel comfortable, and explain what your allergy is - don't assume they know, just be explain things in a straight forward way of what you need to be safe. Talk about contamination, ask what the menu is and go through possibilities before making entirely different suggestions (i.e. if you have a dairy allergy ask if soy milk can be substituted in a cream soup being served, or rice crackers for a wheat allergy)
- Bring safe snacks just in case - dried fruit, seeds, your favourite allergy safe bar (mine are Larabar and Simply bar, but they have soy and nuts for those who are allergic)
- Eat a meal or snack before you go if you know there is likely no food for you to eat and you weren't able to check what the food options were in advance
2. If you're a host
- Ask your attendees if they have any allergies to consider - you may think this is frustrating, but it doesn't mean revamping your whole plan, it could be minor changes or opening the forum to guests to bring something if needed to take the heat off you
- When planning your appetizers keep allergies in mind and try to make at least one appetizer free of the top 4 allergens - dairy, gluten, eggs and peanuts (see below)
- Avoid putting the allergy safe (ie. Brown rice crackers) mixed in with the allergy unsafe crackers - contamination can ruin a well thought out dish
3. If you're traveling over the holidays
- Bring enough food to get through the days - my favourite shelf stable and easy to travel items are wild canned tuna, protein powder, Artisana Coconut butter mini packages (available in almond butter as well) or a mini container of sunflower seed butter, canned beans, fresh fruit and veggies (I usually buy when I arrive), Amy's lentil soups, Mary's Crackers and allergy safe bars (individual based on allergy needs)
- Other food options to travel with - your favourite cereal, homemade trail mix, homemade bars/muffins, or bread/crackers
- Locate a grocery store and some allergy safe restaurants if needed. Although I always recommend whole foods as much as possible, when you're travelling with allergies there are a number of Fast Food restaurants with allergy menus (Swiss Chalet, Wendy's and Tim Horton's)
- Bring a knife, spoon, fork, small plate, small bowl, and a cup with a lid for shaking protein powder (especially if staying in a hotel)
Holidays CAN be fun and amazing, it just takes a little bit of extra effort sometimes, but it's definitely worth it! And hey, you can always throw your own holiday party!
Allergy Friendly Dessert
Makes one - 9 inch cake
You will need:
1 pkg Allergic Solution Vanilla Cake Mix
⅓ cup virgin olive oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup organic cane sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (375 for mini cupcakes, 350 for cupcakes) and grease bottom of a 9" round cake pan.
2. Place oil, pumpkin, water, vanilla extract and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Using an electric mixer, blend on low speed for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.
4. Gradually add entire contents of Allergic Solution Vanilla Cake Mix (mix spices in with dry mix before) and mix on medium speed until completely combined and smooth.
5. Pour batter into greased cake pan.
6. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. (14 min mini cupcakes, 22 min cupcakes)
7. Allow to cool for approximately 20 minutes.
Allergy Friendly Appetizer
No-cook favourites - a platter of herbed chicken skewers, hummus, guacamole, salsa, rice crackers, fresh vegetables, sliced fruit covered in dairy free dark chocolate
Gluten Free Stuffed Mushrooms
1 cup parsley, chopped
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
½ cup pine nuts - (or sunflower seeds to make nut free)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt¼ cup olive oil1 (8 ounce) package mushrooms
1. In a food processor, place parsley and pulse briefly
2. Add sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt, then pulse until almost smooth
3. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse again briefly to incorporate
4. Remove stems from mushrooms and stuff with pesto
5. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes
Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in Toronto, ON and is one of few Nutritionists in Canada who is also Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition™ http://www.sarahmaughan.ca/