Food Allergies and the Holidays

The holidays are a happy and cheerful time. Family gatherings and festive food. Yet to many it's the festive food and holiday gatherings that can be a major source of anxiety. Having food allergies or intolerances can be a challenge any day but even more so when you are getting together with family and friends to share meals. 

I was honored to get the opportunity to chat with Meredith Barack on NBC15 yesterday about this very subject. We both have Celiac Disease, so the subject was near and dear to both of us.  Many people have expressed to me an interest in making some safe food for themselves or a loved one this Thanksgiving. Today I am sharing the three recipes that I made for the segment...
It really is quite easy to adapt most recipes and make them safe for most allergies, it may not be identical to the original recipe but I guarantee the person you are making it for will love being thought of and included.

Groovy Green Bean Casserole
1 lb fresh Green Beans (ends trimmed)
1/2 cup Crimini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 small Onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
3 tbsp Earth Balance (they make a soy-free version) or Butter
3/4 cup Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
1-2 tbsp Gluten-Free Flour 
Optional Toppings:
Gluten-free bread crumbs, Sliced Almond, Asiago Cheese or Dairy-free Cheese

Add the earth balance or butter to a deep sauté pan and melt over medium heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms for a few minutes (until the onions get translucent). Add the Stock and continue to cook on medium heat, stirring as needed. It will begin to thicken as it cooks, add the flour and gently whisk in and cook for a few more minutes. Toss in the green beans, then transfer the mixture to a ceramic or glass baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes, adding optional topping for last five minutes.  Serve warm!

Grandma's Stuffing Re-mix
Gluten-Free Bread (about one medium loaf)
1 cup Milk - I use flax milk or almond milk2 cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock (as much as is needed to cover bread)
3 eggs (or for egg-free use flax eggs)
2 Tbsp Sage, dried or finely chopped fresh
1/2- 1 small Yellow Onion, finely diced 
4-5 stalks Celery, finely diced
1 tbsp Earth Balance or Butter
1/4 cup dried Cranberries
1/4 cup chopped Pecans 
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

This is my Grandmother's traditional stuffing that she has made ever since I can remember. She taught me how to make it when I was young and I fine tuned it a bit then transitioned it to an allergy-friendly version a few years ago and the result is fantastic. 

Cube bread and let it dry out for about 5 hrs (or overnight). Soak the bread in milk and stock for at least an hour or two (I usually do this in the fridge). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (f). Sauté the onion and the celery in earth balance or butter on medium heat until translucent (about 6-7 minutes) then add the sautéd mixture into the milky bread. Beat the eggs with the sage, salt & pepper.  This may seem like a lot of sage but trust me it makes the recipe. Stir the egg mixture into the bread mixture. Fold in the cranberries and pecans. Pour the mixture into a glass or ceramic baking dish and bake in the oven for about 40 mins to an hour.  The stuffing will be very moist but should no longer be liquidy in the center when it is finished. Feel free to add your own twist and mix-ins.  Sunflower seeds would be great for a nut-free version. This year I'm being bold and adding roasted brussel sprouts!

Perfectly Pumpkin Pie
2 cups All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (or 1 1/2 cup GF Oat Flour and 1/2 cup Coconut Flour)
1/2 cup Almonds, sliced (or substitute with Pumpkin Seeds)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Organic Sugar
pinch Cinnamon
2 sticks cold Butter or Earth Balance (16 tbsp), cubed
1-2 tbsp ice Water

15 oz. Container of Pumpkin Purée
1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk (full fat)
3/4 cup Brown Sugar 
3 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground Cloves

To prepare crust use a food processor. Pulse almonds till fine. Add the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon and pulse until well combined. Add the cold butter or earth balance and pulse till crumbed, the dough will be coming together with about pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 tbsp at a time and pulse just until the dough comes together, do not overmix. Form 2 flat discs with the dough, wrap in parchment and refrigerate for about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (f). Roll each disc out thin on a well GF floured surface to about 1/6 inch thickness (dough should make two 8 inch crusts). Place in a glass or ceramic pie plate and form an edge with a fork. Chill for about 10 minutes. To prepare filling whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended. Gently pour into chilled crust. Bake for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.  Enjoy!


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