Adapting your Holiday Traditions for Kids with Allergies

by Courtney El-Ghoul

How are we all feeling coming out on the other side of Thanksgiving weekend? Ready for the holiday season home stretch? 

Celebrating The Holidays With Some Diet Restrictions

I mentioned to you guys before that we celebrate Thanksgiving with Khalil’s family. It is so much fun because there are always at least 15 of us for dinner and we all bring a favorite dish or two. It’s become an amazing tradition because we all have things we love to make or that we are known for making well. It’s also nice to be able to relieve a little bit of the burden from the host. This is the first year with Nahla’s new diet restrictions, so it was a whole new ball game for me. Now that we are a few days out from it all I finally have the energy to share how absolutely mad it was. Scrambling around trying to figure out what to do and then getting together new holiday recipes for Nahla. 

At first, I thought that I would just make my famous Monkey Bread and Sweet Potato Casserole as they were, and then make a gluten and dairy-free version as well. But, then I was thinking… I don’t want Nahla to feel more left out than she already does sometimes. This is Thanksgiving. It’s all about eating yummy food and being grateful. I didn’t want her holiday to be about fear of getting a tummy ache, or missing out. 

Before I could iron out what I was making, I had to deal with the second, and potentially most stressful part. I had to explain the new restrictions to all of the adults who were cooking – so that they could let me know what was ok for her to eat, and what wasn’t. That way I could fill in any gaps if need be. Everyone was on board, of course, which was so wonderful and considerate. as well. 

But, this brought up something I’ve been struggling with lately. How can you be sure that everyone gets it? Without insulting their intelligence or being overbearing? We’ve been at this for a bit now – and grocery shopping is STILL really challenging. I am constantly triple checking the labels. When someone else is cooking it’s just easier for me to make something separate or pack things I know she will eat. Honestly, it’s just really hard and I don’t want anyone to mess up and have to go through the guilt of accidentally mistaking something they thought she could have. Even if the ingredients are right, there is also an endless battle to find yummy things. There are GF/DF things that taste good, but there are also some things that are just gross. Anyway – I think this was good practice for working out how to communicate her needs and I think it went smoothly all things considered.

Ultimately, for my peace of mind, I decided to make something Gluten and Dairy Free for all of my dishes. I did also pack some extra snacks and things that I knew that she would eat and love. Because like I was saying before – Thanksgiving of all days is about enjoying your food, and we want that experience for her.  My brothers-in-law were pretty distraught about the monkey bread! But, hey, that’s life. Right? Out with the old, in with the new. AGHHH the struggle was real.

Favorite Recipes for Vegan & Gluten Free Diets

I am so thankful to have access to sites like the minimalistbaker.com because she always has delicious GF/DF recipes that are easy to make, not a ton of ingredients, and the prepping/cooking times are super reasonable. To start, I knew I was going to make her Vegan/GF mac & cheese – both girls like it, I like it, and Khalil likes it. Then, I decided I would also make her sweet potato boats and  one-bowl vegan pumpkin pie. Of course – because I spent too much time stressing out and being indecisive… I didn’t even start my grocery list until Tuesday, HA. Obviously “Pro -Tip” here… PLAN AHEAD. Around the Holidays the grocery stores are all so overwhelming, and surprisingly certain ingredients you may need for a recipe will be impossible to find. Cooking and preparing for a group dinner, that your child with allergies can enjoy …is hard enough. Having to brave the grocery store on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving does not need to be in the mix. Learn from me on this one, ha. This is all so new for our family that I am learning as we go. But, now that I’ve got Thanksgiving under my belt I am feeling way more prepared for Christmas:)

What about you guys? If your kids have a food allergy, how do you prepare for all the Holiday meals? Favorite gluten free dairy free recipes that your kids love?

XO Courtney

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