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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holidays without the Food Hangover

Happy Holidays from Annie!

I know this is going to be a big surprise, but... I love food. I spend way too much time pouring through food magazines, cookbooks, and, of course, the FoodNetwork. I confess that even while I'm at my day job, I'm fantasizing about the next treat I'll attempt to transform into delicious vegan and allergy friendly sustenance. I suppose I don't consider myself to have much moderation, but I don't give myself enough credit. I haven't purposefully had gluten in 6 years. I haven't had corn, eggs, soy, milk, and many other foods for at least 4 years. Now, I am attempting to go low carb over the holidays! While continuing to create more gluten free goodies! Wish me luck....

Eating with friends and family is difficult at times. It is so important to make sure that cross contamination is kept to a minimum, but that can be difficult to do without hurting people's feelings if you aren't careful. People don't seem to realize how easy it is to contaminate food, and I know restaurants also fall into this category. The better restaurants/bakeries have separate ovens, fryers, and work stations dedicated to gluten free, but those who are celiac or extremely sensitive can become a little ill even from walking into the bakery with all of the flour in the air.

When sitting at a shared dinner table, it's really easy to forget which spoon is being used with which dish. I remember watching in horror as my sister-in-law beat me to the dinner table and proceeded to use the butter knife to help dig into EVERY other dish. I ended up helping myself to the refrigerator and making a salad from fresh ingredients. If you're worried about things staying allergy friendly (or vegan for that matter), the easiest way to go is to bring your own dish and/or help in the kitchen. It also helps cut down on the hurt feelings. My family wasn't too excited about me being vegan (they were great about allergies), but now they are comfortable with my decision and are happy when I offer to bring my own main dish.

Here are some low carb dishes I'm thinking about bringing to Christmas Dinner:

Vegan Cremey Spinach Dip

Made with sauteed garlic and spinach, combined with macadamia nuts, lemon juice, salt, and a little water. Great with celery, carrots, or other chopped vegetables.

Veggie Stir Fry
It is so easy to empty out the veggie crispers and make a delicious stir fry if you know how to use your spices. Last night, Lance and I enjoyed a chickpea coconut curry with spinach. Saffron stir-fry with peppers and ginger is also a favorite. I've linked to the peanut stir fry recipe, but it works just as well with almond butter if you are allergic to peanuts. My husband thought it was delicious.

Pesto is so tasty, and there are more variations than one would think. Going 50/50 with basil and cilantro and adding lime, garlic, and olive oil is delicious.

Onions, garlic, and chopped zucchini combine to make a creamy base for a number of soups. Cream of mushroom and cream of broccoli are my favorite. Making these soups from scratch make me realize how "off" some of the canned versions taste.

Brussels Sprouts with Spaghetti Squash "Noodles" and Vegan Alfredo

It wouldn't be the holidays if I didn't bring cookies and pie. I will be increasing the amount of low carb, veggie dishes I bring to compensate for all the treats surrounding me. When I get hungry, I make really poor food choices. Please learn from my mistakes and bring at least snacks so you don't get hungry if something doesn't look trustworthy.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Holiday. Finding ways to stay allergy free and low sugar mean less New Years resolutions and less symptoms the next day. Standing your ground and bringing your own food means avoiding the bloating, headaches, wheezing, and stomach aches that often come with either purposefully cheating on your diet or accidentally getting a hold of something you weren't aware was contaminated.

I owe my readers more recipes. Tomorrow I'm testing some double chocolate cookies, pecan prints, sugar cookies (it's a classic!), and perhaps another. I should have at least one fabulous recipe to share. I've been a little greedy lately and have kept my pecan pie and chocolate chip cookies to myself....

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