Navigating the Holidays with Food Allergies and Sensitivities

gluten free pie

Nine years ago I was entering my first Thanksgiving and Christmas season with the knowledge of my severe food sensitivities to gluten, soy and corn. I had happy memories of the traditional foods we had at each meal and looked forward every year to my mother’s dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and especially the pies.  Pumpkin and pecan pies were a family specialty and I looked forward the traditional recipes for our holiday gatherings.

Then I remembered my allergies.

No dressing.

No gravy.

No rolls.

No green bean casserole.

No sweet potato casserole.


My heart sank as I thought of all of the traditional dishes that were loaded with wheat flour.  The only parts of our traditional meal I could safely eat were the the turkey and cranberry sauce.

And I had to even be careful of the cranberry sauce. Many of the canned brands were made with high fructose corn syrup and I was sensitive to corn!

In 2008 there were only a limited number of pre-made gluten-free foods available in Aiken. My heart sank as I thought about navigating Thanksgiving with such a limited diet.

 Then I remembered I could cook!

I began to search for recipes made without wheat, corn or soy.  I don’t remember exactly what I made that first year, but I knew that I wanted to find recipes for pies.  Over the years I have learned to cook many gluten-free foods and it gets easier all the time.  The best recipes are those that family and friends eat without even realizing they are gluten-free.

One cookbook author I have followed for a number of years is Danielle Walker.  Danielle was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in her early 20’s and almost died before finding the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to help her heal.  This was one of the diets I used early on because it avoided all grains and most starches.  It helped me heal too.  I began following her blog and recipes and purchased her first cookbook, Against All Grain.  

Danielle has also written a book Against All Grain Celebrations, that has recipes for special holiday meals.  All are grain free and most are dairy free and free of many other allergens as well.  Check her book out and if you or a family member has food allergies or sensitivities I highly recommend this book or her original book, Against All Grain.

Click this link for a grain and dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe from the Against All Grain blog.  This one does use nuts and eggs, so it will not work for those allergies.

Instead of getting depressed about your food restrictions, use it as an opportunity for cooking creativity.  Figure out new foods to eat and recipes to make.  Find recipes using alternate ingredients for some of your favorite dishes. Find more recipes that are all gluten, dairy soy and corn free on my recipe page here.

Starting on December 27, for two days only, you will have the opportunity to get get healthy living resources for only $27.  I have personally used this Healthy Living Bundle from Ultimate Bundles and have found it valuable.  Click here to find out more.  

What are your favorite recipes for the holidays that are allergy-friendly?  Comment here so others can learn, too.

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