Feeding My Gluten Free Family – Surviving the Holidays: Part 1

My husband, Mike, myself and my two kids all have celiac disease. So we are experts at the gluten free lifestyle. But no matter how good we get at gluten free living, this holiday season is an interesting time of year for us.

Chanukah is very early this year and so we are moving straight from Thanksgiving into our eight days of gluten filled celebrations. It is traditional on Chanukah to eat fried foods and, in particular, gluten filled fried foods. Potato pancakes, or latkes are easily made gluten free but not anywhere else we go except in our house. And donuts, the other Chanukah staple, are not easy to make gluten free no matter who is making them.

Last year, I felt compelled to give our kids (toddler and preschooler at the time) the real Chanukah culinary experience. I started preparing weeks before the holiday.

I searched online for gluten free donut recipes and gave them my best shot. After one bite each of a number of different versions, hubby and kids would not go near them. Sigh.

On to latkes. I made some for the first night without matzo meal and they were delicious. But they are also time consuming to make and so, despite my best intentions, we did not have any more for the remainder of the eight nights. And believe it or not, kids and hubby were none the worse for wear.

So this year, we are focusing on the one gluten free Chanukah item – chocolate coins (known as gelt). There are many gluten free options available and the kids can enjoy a couple per night instead of a donut as their Chanukah treat. I will be making far less time consuming potato kugel to take to friends’ houses so we are sure we have a gluten free latke alternative.

At this time of year, there are so many unexpected eating opportunities – friends ask us over to participate in tree decorating, kids go ice-skating and parents bring holiday treats, we pop into neighbors who serve hot chocolate and cookies. So I make sure my purse is especially well stocked with gluten free kid options at this time of year. Trail mix (with some chocolate chips thrown in) is a staple, chocolate coconut Zing Bars get my kids excited every time, and some little baggies of popcorn mixed with dried, lightly sweetened cranberries go a long way too. I put the food in cute reusable baggies and I make sure I pack enough to share as the other kids are always very interested in the gluten free goodies.

So here’s some advice from my gluten free family to yours:

  • Don’t drive yourself crazy with gluten free substitutes
  • Other kids will think your food is special if you pack it up in fun ways
  • Remember to focus on other fun holiday traditions that do not center around food

May this be a joyous holiday season for you and your family!

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