Oatmeal Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

oatmeal cookies

Who loves cookies? Me! Me! Me! (Waving my arm around wildly).

Me and the cookie monster are like that (holding up my thumb and index finger with almost no light between them). I was even a little sad when he declared cookies a “sometimes food”. I mean, I agree with his message. But I think he succumbed to industry pressure…

So when I went gluten- and dairy-free, not to mention low sugar, cookies were a hard thing to sacrifice. I poured over GF, healthy cookbooks and websites to find satisfying treats. Some were failures, but some are so good I forget they are “healthy”.

This house favorite was adapted from the delicious Babycakes Covers the Classics cook book, using their Oatmeal Cookies recipe as a base. I switched out some of the flours to ones I keep in the house, left out the xanthan gum because I don’t love it and you don’t really need it in this kind of cookie, switched the sugar for Stevia, and added some good stuff like chocolate chips and peanut butter. I think it’s better for my tinkering.

I use sugar-free, gluten-free chocolate chips. Lily’s has good ones. They are a little expensive, but as Cookie Monster said, these are sometimes food. I used a Lily’s bar in the batch pictured above, chunked up, ’cause I was out of chips. Works just as well!

Can’t have peanuts, or baking for a school with a no-peanuts policy? Use almond butter, it adds similar richness.

Ready to try it? Here you go!

Oatmeal Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter cookies recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 cup Stevia
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup melted refined coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla abstract
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or almond butter, or whatever you like)
  • ½ cup sugar-free, gluten-free chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl – flour, Stevia, oats, almond meal, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Melt the coconut oil on the stove or in the microwave
  4. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and stir in well until a thick dough forms. Add the peanut or almond butter and stir until well mixed, then add the chocolate chips and stir again.
  5. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate the cookie sheets, and bake for 7 minutes more, or until golden.
  6. Let stand on baking sheets for 15 minutes before serving or you’ll burn your fingers off! 🙂

Makes 36 if you’re accurate with the tablespoon – I throw down bigger blobs, I get 24 from the recipe.

I hope you like them! Give them a try and send me a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

xoxo,
Sondra

Chocolate Cinnamon Coconut Chia Pudding

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Last summer I got into chia pudding in a big way. I’d just discovered that chia seeds are food, not just pets, and started adding them into smoothies and sprinkling them on salads. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, and Omega 3’s, and don’t need to be ground before using. What’s not to love?

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My obsession started with a pumpkin chia pudding recipe on The Naked Avocado and snowballed from there. Her pudding is super easy–no cooking!–and delicious. I made it every week through the fall, until pumpkin season was over. Leaving me with a hole in my repertoire. And perhaps my heart. After using up all of my canned pumpkin, I moved on to other squashes and even tried using sweet potatoes. I tried fruit, and applesauce, and cinnamon. It just wasn’t the same. But then it hit me – chocolate!

Two great tastes that taste great together. Well, ok, one great taste, and another that'll soak it up.

Two great tastes that taste great together. Well, ok, one great taste, and another that’ll soak it up.

I’ve been on a no-sugar kick, which makes desserts a bit of a no-no. Anything I can make that’s chocolaty and sugar-free is a big win. And I had scaled back on my Chocolate Coconut Tahini Balls because of all the fat, so this was an even bigger win.

If you haven’t tried it, chia pudding is a little like tapioca in consistency. Which isn’t a great comparison, because I hate tapioca. I promise this is better. Chia seeds are small and black, smaller than sesame seeds. When you soak them in coconut milk, or any other liquid, they swell into fat black drops. Cool! Science! Then just add any sweet flavors that strike your fancy. The chia is neutral, it’ll pick up the coconut and other flavors. In fact, Chia Pod has productized chia pudding, so look for Chia Pods in natural markets near you. But my recipe is better. 😉

Chocolate Cinnamon Coconut Chia Pudding (gluten/diary/sugar free + vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 + ¼ cup light coconut milk, divided*
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao
  • ½ Tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp Stevia

Instructions:

  1. Stir chia seeds into 1 cup coconut milk in a bowl or sealable container.
  2. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.
  3. Open container and stir – consistency should be pudding-like. If too thick, stir in additional ¼ cup coconut milk.
  4. Stir in raw cacao, cinnamon, and stevia. Taste, and adjust to your liking.
  5. Enjoy!

xoxo,
Sondra

*”Divided” means you’ll use the 1 cup and ¼ cup coconut milk at separate points in the recipe

Need a pick me up? Iced green tea might do the trick

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This morning*, as I sipped my little paper cup of iced green tea after my Chinese herbal reflexology foot massage,  I was reminded of the most lovely drink I sampled at Natural Products Expo West. Iced Rose Green Tea from Teas’ Teas. Which, in turn, reminded me of my trip to Japan, still one of the highlights of my career in business class.

I can’t go a day without green tea. I drink it every day in its natural, warm form. The way God intended. Or whoever’s up there. But I rarely think to have it iced. Only at coffee shops, for some odd reason. Everywhere else I am satisfied with iced black tea, which I never drink warm. Too much caffeine. Makes me jittery. Especially at night. A few glasses of iced black tea at dinner or out for girls night** and I am up until all hours.

But as I wandered the aisles of Natural Products Expo West – or Expo West, as it’s known in the food biz — a little overwhelmed, tired, and thirsty from all those sugary natural power bar samples, the Teas’ Teas booth was an oasis of calm. Smiling ladies served generous sample cups of a variety of iced green teas. Their big push was around the new matcha green tea latte, which I didn’t sample because of the milk.

But when I tried the unsweetened green and rose green teas, I was transported back to Tokyo a few summers ago. Iced green tea was everywhere – markets, soda machines, newsstands. It was as popular as coconut water in New York and L.A.

I especially liked the rose green tea. It’s a surprising taste sensation. Rose doesn’t have flavor but it has a smell, and despite all of our taste buds, taste is mainly about smell. So, while I know it’s all in my head, the rose green tea tasted better than the plain green. Prettier. Happier. Sunnier.

Next time you’re in the market take a look for this stuff, and enjoy a little pick-me-up on a hot day.

xoxo,
Sondra

*To be honest, it was more like afternoon.
** Par-tay! I am a wild one these days.

Stone Soup

stones

When I was little I was entranced by the tale of Stone Soup. The story, if you’ve never heard it, goes something like this…

A dusty, road-weary man reaches a small village where he knows no one. He has few belongings, just the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet and a large cooking pot. He goes to the town pump and fills his cooking pot, then plops down in the village square announcing “I think I’ll make my world famous stone soup. Oh boy is it good. I am so excited to eat it. All I need is water and a nice big stone, and I’ll heat me up some delicious soup.”

The locals are wary but interested. Times are hard in this village. No one wants to feed a vagrant, but if he can teach them how to make a satisfying meal out of rocks, they’re willing to learn. So they start to listen in, keeping their distance and trying to look busy.

The wanderer sees them starting to gather around the edges of the square.  “Gotcha!” he thinks.

He finds a nice sized stone, about as big as his hand, rinses it off, and plops it in the pot. He makes a little fire, puts the pot over it, and as the water starts to heat he rhapsodizes about this soup.

“I once entertained a King,” he says, “with only this stone soup. Oh and an onion – this soup is even better with an onion.”

“An onion,” one of the eavesdroppers thinks. “I can spare that. If it’ll teach me how to make something from nothing.” So he brings the wanderer an onion, which makes its way into the pot.

“Fantastic,” says the wanderer. “This will be even better than the stone soup I prepared for the Maharaja. Oh now that was a soup, I tell ya. A soup anyone would love. Oh though I do believe that soup had a little bacon grease in it.”

“Bacon grease,” thinks another villager, “I can spare a little of that.” So she brings a small scoop of bacon grease to the pot and adds it in.

I’ll spare you the blow by blow account from here, we’re on internet time after all, but suffice it to say that before the soup was done, every villager had contributed some small thing – an egg, some greens, a little meat, some herbs – until it was soup that a king could, in fact, love.

This story has stayed with me my entire life. Like the soup itself, everyone brings something different to this tale. If you’re a socialist, it’s a heartwarming example of the many creating something better than the few. If you’re thrifty, it’s the dawn of pot luck dinners. If you’re a schemer, this is the playbook for getting others to do your work for you.

As an eater, my take-away is different. Soup Is Good! Eat more soup!

I was thinking of this the other day as the weather turned cold. Soup *is* good. I wanted soup. So I looked through my cupboards and threw together an ad-hoc Thai-inspired soup that would satisfy a Maharaja, I am sure. I didn’t measure; I just threw in some of this and some of that. Measurements were approximated after the fact. Use whatever you’ve got. Leave out stuff if you hate it. Throw in other stuff if you love it. I’m sure it’ll be good!

Sondra’s Stone Soup

No stones were hurt in the making of this soup

No stones were hurt in the making of this soup

What to use:

  • ½ can Coconut milk
  • 1 package of low-sodium Vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice from the little green plastic lime or the juice from ½ fresh lime or a few drops food-grade Lime essential oil
  • 1 packet Stevia (replaces the brown sugar found in most Thai soups)
  • 2 slivers of fresh ginger (I always have ginger!) or a few drops food-grade Ginger essential oil
  • A chunk of frozen spinach (about 1 cup)
  • ½ package of pre-prepared Trader Joe lentils (about 1 ½ cups)
  • Optional – 4-5 pieces of dried Lemongrass (I had some dried on hand – fresh is better) or a few drops food-grade Lemongrass essential oil

If you decide to use essential oils, I recommend doTERRA.

What to do:

  1. Warm the coconut milk and veggie broth over Medium-High heat until boiling
  2. Reduce heat to Medium
  3. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, stevia, ginger, and lemongrass. Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes for the flavors to develop
  4. Add the spinach and lentils. Raise the heat back to Medium-High. Let bubble on the stove for about 10 minutes. House smells good, right? If it’s bubbling too much, reduce heat to Medium.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Hope you like your first stone soup. Oh and don’t forget to take the stone out before you eat it. 😉

Xoxo,
Sondra

Food (Processor) Love IV: Chocolate Coconut Tahini Balls

Chocolate Tahini Balls

Lest you think I had forgotten about my shiny new Cuisinart in all of the excitement about my shiny new health coaching career, I have yet another gem to share with you. These amazing Chocolate Coconut Tahini Balls come from our friends at Addicted to Raw.

I love this recipe. It’s a sugar free frozen desert with a satisfying dark chocolate peanut butter cup taste. It kind of reminds me of the Halva candy I ate growing up–the neighborhood delis in Philly sold it by the pound, and my mom could always be counted on to buy a chunk.

Like the last three food processor recipes, this is easy to make. Fun, even. As you may have guessed, this dessert contains nuts–it can’t really be made without them, sorry. I usually double the recipe and leave them in the freezer until the snacking urge hits. This is basically a frozen treat – they get all gooey and melty if left out too long. If that happens, just refreeze.

Chocolate Coconut Tahini Balls
Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free.  *Not* nut free.
Yield: Makes about 6 balls.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heaped Tbs of almond butter
  • 2 heaped Tbs of tahini
  • 4 Tsp of raw cacao
  • Pinch of good quality salt
  • 4 Tsp of ground chia seeds
  • Stevia, honey or agave to sweeten to your liking
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened dried coconut
  • 2 Tbs of hemp seeds or flax seeds
  • 1/2 – 1 Tsp of spirulina (optional but why not get some green in there when you can)
  1. Grind your chia seeds fresh.
  2. Add all ingredients into a food processor and mix well. You can also use a bowl, but I’ve found the food processor works better. When the ingredients turn into a nice ball that looks like dough, it’s done.
  3. Scoop out a tablespoonful, roll it into a ball (I use my hands), and then roll in coconut, sesame seeds or hemp seeds. This is the fun part!
  4. Freeze for about 20 minutes, till they firm up.
  5. Store in freezer and eat straight from there.  Well, this part is fun too 😉

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. And don’t forget to check out Addicted to Raw – lots more good stuff there!

xoxo,
Sondra

Food (Processor) Love II: Mint-Basil Dairy Free Pesto

Food (Processor) Love II:  Mint-Basil Dairy Free Pesto   

Ah pesto, what can’t you make better? With your creamy crunchy texture, luscious umami mouth feel, and garlic aftertaste, you are the chocolate of condiments. But alas, pesto was a pleasure I thought I had to live without due to my dairy intolerance. Until the day I realized just how easy it is to make at home. Now I can indulge in this green goodness with all of the flavor I love and without any dairy at all.

Still high on my food processor after my success with the Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade, I trolled the internets for easy to make pesto recipes. My favorite is from Food Network’s favorite Italian, Giada De Laurentiis. I adapted my version from her Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto recipe. Not only is it delicious with lamb, natch’, but the mint adds a wonderful flavor surprise to fish, in salads, and as a spread.

Like last weeks’ recipe, this is super delicious and so easy to make that you’re going to want to make it a lot. In fact it’s even easier to make than the Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade because there’s nothing to roast. Just pop it all in and blend away!

Mint-Basil Dairy Free Pesto:  Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis’s Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto recipe. Gluten and dairy free. Contains nuts, but you can leave them out and it’ll still be yummy.
Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx ½ a medium lemon)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (leave out if you used salted nuts or seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the fresh basil and mint, and give a few chops to larger basil pieces to make it easier for the machine. Add in small amounts, around an inch (vertical), pulse until chopped. Add in more and repeat until all of the herbs are chopped.
  2. Add the seeds or nuts and the garlic cloves and pulse until chopped.
  3. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and continue pulsing to mix. You should see the mixture emulsify and deepen in color.

And that’s it! Give it a taste and tinker as you like, adding more salt, pepper, mint or lemon until it’s perfect for your palate.

Happy pureeing!

Not your mum’s cucumber sandwiches

The British may have colonized an Empire, but with independence comes reinvention. Americans are renowned for putting our own spin on all things English, from driving to dialect. So it was only a matter of time until we reinvented the most classic of afternoon snacks, the cucumber finger sandwich.

This most English of sammies is traditionally thin, crustless, and cream-cheesie.  As a high tea devotee I’ve enjoyed them in endless variations until I was diagnosed with wheat and dairy allergies. No more bread, no more cream cheese, no more English finger sandwiches. Time for an intervention.

The easy way out would be gluten-free bread and some kind of vegan spread. But re-invention is cooler than substitution. So get ready for a radical make-up.

What makes a cucumber sandwich so great? Is it the crunch? The creaminess? The cushiony pillows of bread? Um, yes please. Together they create umami, the Japanese ideal of savory taste and mouthfeel.

First up, preserving the crunch. Cucumbers can be more than just a pretty filling. They can carry the sandwich—literally.  Look for cukes around 12 inches long and 3 inches wide.  Rather than peel them, square them off (cut off the ends and the rounded sides), then cut thick slices and you don’t need no stinkin’ bread.

Next, add a little complexity and a delightful smell with some fresh basil.  I’ll take that over pillowy softness any day!

Lastly, recreating the creaminess. Why suffer through some substitute spread when smoked salmon adds the perfect soft texture and smoky taste to complement the cucumber’s slight bitter tang?

The British may be known for hats, haberdashery and high tea, but let’s make America the home of the new and improved cucumber sandwich!

Homemade Gazpacho—easier than you’d think

Nothing is better on a hot summer day than a chilled soup—crisp gazpacho, rich borsch, decadent berries with mint.

As much as I love them, I’ve never made any of them. Too intimidating. Something so delicious must be hard to make, right? As it turns out, no! Chilled soups are dead simple if you have fresh produce and a food processor. Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair amount of peeling and chopping involved. But trust me, you can do this.

What helped me get over my fear? TV, of course. Cooking shows, especially the challenge ones, are a constant source of new ideas for me. On my latest guilty pleasures, Master Chef Australia, one of the contestants threw together a gazpacho as an extra bit of flair on her starter dish. It seemed to take no time at all, using tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, salt and pepper. I figured if she can do a gazpacho as a garnish, I can probably do this at home.

So I picked up a giant heirloom tomato (or heritage tomahto), some cucumbers, a few limes, and a little basil. The lime and basil were my idea—both flavors I love with salads, alone and together.  The tomato was gorgeous—orange and yellow, weighing in at almost two pounds. Perfectly ripe. Juicy and flavorful. So perfectly ripe that I didn’t need to use a tomato knife—my chef’s knife worked just fine.

After cutting them into rough cubes of about an inch, I gently pulsed ¾ of them in my food processor into something that looked more or less like salsa. I saved the remaining cubes to mix into the soup for a little texture.

Next up, the cucumber. A couple of online recipes suggested peeling and de-seeding them, so that’s what I did, followed by cubing and a trip into the processor. I was rewarded with a gorgeous fragrant mash. I left some of it a little rough for some crunch.

Next up, combining the tomato and cucumber mashes. How beautiful!

Next I added a dollop of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and the juice of a small lime. I cut the lime into quarters and squeezed in each and tasted so I didn’t over-power the flavors. Then I added salt and pepper, tasted, and added a little more. For a final touch I chopped the fresh basil and sprinkled it on top.

As good as it looks, it tastes even better. Eating the first few spoonfuls I could feel the coolness travel down my spine. I instantly felt healthier—righteous, even.

So give gazpacho a try this summer. It’s easier than you’d think!

Making Food Science Work For You

I’ve done a lot of research about food in learning how to deal with my food allergies. How we eat, why we eat, how food is grown–or more accurately, made. Two of the most impactful books on my thinking–and eating–have been In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and The End of Overeating by Dr. David A. Kessler, MD.

Both books go a long way to explaining how the food industry misleads us into eating, not food, but food-like products designed to encourage high consumption and higher food industry profits.  In Defense of Food explains how food scientists translated the nutrients into food into nutrition labels, encouraging us to believe that 5 grams of sugar or 100 mg of fiber is the same in any context, regardless of the other ingredients or the formulation of the end product.  But in fact context is everything, just as in language–the combination of Vit C, fiber and sugar in an orange is all essential to the absorption of the nutrients, and to helping you feel full and satisfied without giving you a sugar rush.

The End of Overeating explains how food companies engineer food products to hit the taste trifecta–salt, sugar, and fat.  When those three go ding ding ding in your brain, you uncontrollably want to eat more–and usually do. Resulting in a popular that is a lot heavier, and less healthy, than 50 years ago–before the food industry was quite so large and profitable.

While Michael Pollan provides an easy-to-follow three-step plan in In Defense of Food (Eat Food; Not Too Much; Mostly Plants), Dr. Kessler’s message is a bit harder to sum up in a pithy one-liner, but the overall message is similar to Pollan’s. I’d sum them both up with “don’t eat crap.”

While pithy, that’s not super helpful, nor is it easy to live by.  And realistically, food scientists exploit the sugar/fat/salt trifecta for a reason – we need them to live, and we like how they taste. Totally stripping them out of your diet would be very unpleasant and likely bad for your health.

So here are my three steps to eating better, healthier, and yummier:

  1. Be your own Head Chef
  2. Mix it up
  3. Don’t skimp on the good stuff

Not quite as pithy as Pollan’s, but hey, he has an editor.

Here’s a little more detail on each:

  1. Be your own Head Chef–the Head Chef at a restaurant sets the menu, taking into account the best available seasonal ingredients, the tastes of their clientele, and the strengths of their staff. While you don’t have to do all your own cooking (who has time), you should at least curate what you eat. Pick and chose the best available options based on what’s fresh, what’s the most “food-like” (least processed, least number of ingredients, least added fillers/preservatives/colors), and what provides the right protein/fat/carb combination to keep your engine running right based on your activity level.
  2. Mix it up–from everything I’ve read, the best way to ensure you get the right mix of vitamins and nutrients is to spread out how you get them. Amazingly, tons of fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C–I always thought you had to eat oranges. It turns out red peppers (marginally) kick their butt. Take the time to learn which foods contain calcium (not just dairy), protein (not just meat), and sugars (not just dessert), and plan your meals and snacks to ensure a balance.
  3. Don’t skimp on the good stuff–in this case the “good stuff” means the taste trifecta (salt/sugar/fat), but get them by eating real food. If you crave fat, drizzle some extra olive oil over your salad, steamed or stir fried veggies, or a baked potato. Crave sugar? Have a sweet potato or an apple. Both are sweet tasting and, as carbs, will turn into sugar later in your system. And then there’s salt–if you are eating less processed food, you will automagically reduce your sodium intake. You cannot imagine how much salt is in everything you buy in a package at the grocery story. So feel free to add a little salt to your made-at-home air popped popcorn, your baked potato, your grilled outdoors corn and steak. You are still way down on the sodium intake overall.

Making changes to live by these guidelines has helped me immensely.  Not only do I feel healthier, but friends are constantly commenting on how great my skin looks, and–as an unexpected bonus–I’ve dropped 20 pounds and 2 pants sizes.

As my friend JS would say, follow these guidelines and make food science your bi-atch.

Navigating the Holiday Buffet

The holidays are a time of wonder and joy.  Twinking lights, visiting old friends, caroling, eggnog, grog, presents, and endless holiday food.  Unless you have food allergies, in which case navigating holiday party buffets can feel like a particularly devious level of Dante’s Infernobook or game.

This year, friends with newly emerging allergies asked for advice eating and drinking safely while still feeling festive. I thought these tips would be equally helpful for you.  So here are some sure-fire tips to feel good both during and after the parties.

1) Accept hospitality graciously – your friends and hosts want you to have a good time, and in their mind that usually invovles eating and drinking. So take care of yourself by eating and drinking within your limitations, but also accept the gift of their hospitality. Even if that means accepting a plate or glass and setting it down or handing it off to someone else later.  Or, depending on your relationship to the host, explaining your allergies (ideally before the party) and giving them the opportunity to offer something “special” for you.

2) Plan ahead –  this year I was gratified to see allergy-friendly menu options at many holiday parties, but you can’t count on it. So don’t go hungry. Eat something healthy and filling, with some protein and fiber, before heading out the door.  My fall-backs are a warm bowl of lentils with olive oil, hummus with cucumber and red pepper slices (not pita) as dippers, or even a small omelet with veggies. And some green tea — the perfect combo of anti-oxidants and caffeine to rev you up for the night.  I also tend to pack a little food – actually, I do this all the time.  A small bag of roasted, unsalted almonds (my wonder food) is a quick hit of protein that satisfies my needs for crunch and flavor at any time.

3) Know your limits – food allergies can lead to a different set of reactions in everyone. Only you know whether your lactose allergy, for instance, will lead to hospitalization, a night on the bathroom floor, or just some gas.  So you have to own your decisions. For me, milk/cream/cheese are non-negotiable, but a little butter won’t kill me – though i generally avoid it.  So I can induldge in something cooked in a little butter at a party, put up with a little inconvenience the next morning (a lot less than a hangover), and still feel like I had a festive night out.

4) Generally safe food – salads (but check for allergens like cheese, crunchies, and dressings), cooked veggies (but again check for sauces, coatings, and cooking oils), roasted or grilled meats and fishes (asssuming you’re not vegetarian), nuts (assuming no nut allergies), raw veggies, fruit, and dark chocolate.  If you have gluten allergies, bypass the pasta, the baked goods, the breadsticks, the pretzels.  It’s just not worth it!  Remember how good it feels to feel good.

5) Generally safe drinks – people with food allergies are generally advised to avoid alcohol because their immune system has been trashed by their allergies. For me, I also have limited sugar tolerance, so alcohol is double jeopardy. And of course, (most) beer is full of wheat so that’s a triple threat. But I have developed a few coping techniques:

  • Sparkling water looks a lot like a cocktail – have the bartender throw in a lemon or lime slice and put it in a highball glass, and you’ll blend in with the drinkers.
  • Vodka and Gin have very low sugar content – cut with diet tonic or soda water.
  • Avoid wine! Very high sugar. White wine has more sugar than red wine.

And lastly, remember that this party is just one night and one meal in your entire life.  Take joy in being with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, and rely a little less on food and drink for enjoyment. Living with allergies is a life change, but it can be a full and happy life.

Happy Holidays!