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What You Need to Do to Have a Merry Gluten-Free Christmas Feast This Holiday Season 

by Mariana Lessmann


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are upon us. We are getting ready for the most special day of the year.  

Some of us like planning ahead and not leaving things for the last minute.  

If you celebrate Christmas and will have people coming over for dinner, you know that requires a lot of planning.  

My husband Matt and I love to celebrate every Holiday. We try making those days as special as possible so you we can enjoy together and keep good memories of those moments for the future.  

I enjoy hosting special occasions such as dinners, parties or Holidays and try making feel people welcome.  

In my case, this year was my first time celebrating and hosting Thanksgiving Day. I’m from Caracas, Venezuela and in my country we don’t really have that Holiday, but since I recently moved in to NY and married an American, Thanksgiving is now part of my traditions and it is the best excuse for having another day to celebrate.  

Providing a nice table setting even for casual days is something that has become something natural for me to do. I feel like guests will feel more welcome if they see nice decorations when they come over.  

But there is something more relevant than doing some decorations for people who come over to my place.  

Taking care of the menu I will be offering is certainly more important.  

Having food to share with guests is a fundamental part to being a good hostess.  

So I always make sure that whoever is visiting me won’t be hungry and will have some options to eat, even a small appetizer.  

I have always cooked a wide variety of different food, especially desserts. I like making the dishes I know that everyone will enjoy.  

But my life sort of changed when I met Matt, my now husband.  

He cannot eat any food that contains wheat, rye or barley, so that forced my cooking creativity to be different.  

I no longer make the same dishes I used to make in the past.  

I had 3 delicious food options that I would always make for parties or dinners, and I always knew that everywhere I would go, they would be loved.  

Artichoke stuffed bread, alfajores and marquesa de chocolate were the 3 main dishes that I used to make all the time, and I was always very confident that people were gonna love them. In fact they still ask me for those recipes.  

Living with Matt who is celiac has made me stick to a strict gluten-free diet. When we started living together I used to cook with ingredients that I didn’t know weren’t safe and this made Matt get sick several times.  

At the beginning of the relationship it was hard to understand that the best way to help a celiac you live with, is to not keep any gluten-based food in the same kitchen where we keep the gluten-free food too, and to always be extra careful when going somewhere out to eat.  

We all want to have a merry gluten-free Christmas feast this year, right?  

I bet we all are on the same page.  

You are looking forward to this Holiday season but you are concerned you may get sick when eating your Christmas feast because you are not sure if it’s going to be gluten-free.  

Well, I guarantee you that if you do the following, you will have the safe merry gluten-free Holidays you deserve!  

1. Planning

This is probably my favorite step for doing something. It doesn’t matter what you will do, it will need some planning.  

I’m a very organized person and I like to plan things with time. I’m not a last minute person, and I don’t like the feeling of having to rush to do something.  

Living with a celiac over the past year has made me be even more organized than what I already are. 

It takes a lot of planning when it comes to a strict gluten-free diet. Although I prefer calling it eating lifestyle than diet.  

Cooking for my husband requires time to plan the menu, the meal options that can be gluten-free, the ingredients that are wheat-free, and where to buy those ingredients.  

If you want to have a merry gluten-free Holidays season feast this year you have to start with planning what your Christmas is going to be like.  

Ask yourself these questions:  

- Where will I be eating Christmas Eve dinner? - Will Christmas Eve dinner be at my place? - Will I be going somewhere else? - Will I be having a Secret Santa party? - Will I be cooking Christmas Eve dinner or someone else will do that for me?  

Plan the days that are ahead of you so you can visualize better what you will be needing to do.  

2. Be the host

I know how annoying it can be to go out and eat somewhere out there. Whether it is going to someone’s place, to a restaurant or to a trip, it is definitely uncomfortable for you to think about being somewhere you may not feel safe.  

If you refuse to go out because you have felt sick so many times in the past, don’t miss the opportunity of sharing with family or friends.  

The Holidays are for sharing with people you love, so don’t miss that social moment because you are afraid you will feel sick.  

There are many solutions to that problem, and one of them is offering to host Christmas Eve dinner.  

This way you won’t have to worry about being uncertain and doubt if you should eat or not a meal that someone with low celiac disease awareness cooked.  

Avoid having to go through that awkward moment where you have to ask the cook a thousand times what ingredients they used, and if they were careful enough to avoid cross-contamination.  

If you decide being the host, you will know for sure that the food will be safe for you and you will end up enjoying a safe gluten-free christmas feast this Holiday season.  

3. Create a menu

If you don’t like hosting parties and you refuse to be the host of this Christmas Eve dinner, there are other solutions to avoid feeling sick during the Holidays feasts, and to actually enjoy this time of the year. So, if you are hosting or not, create a menu for you to eat wherever you will be spending Christmas Eve. Look for menu ideas, write them down, and think about what meals you would like to eat at the party. If you are looking to eat complicated dishes like turkey with stuffing, keep in mind that it will take you more time to do so than a simpler meal. So write down your favorite Christmas meals and select the ones that you will be willing to cook considering their preparation times.  

4. Look for recipes you like

The Holidays are for eating delicious food right? That’s why we all gain some weight during this time of the year. So you have been in a strict gluten-free diet and you want to continue on that healthy path. Make this Christmas dinner a delicious and safe one! Enough of eating dishes that may compromise your stomach. Go with safe options.’ Don’t think that for eating delicious you have to eat gluten, or that for eating gluten-free you need to eat boring options. There are so many options out there for you and we have some in our Cookbook. Make a wish list with recipes. Even if they are made with wheat-based ingredients, that doesn’t mean that you cannot make them gluten-free. Just substitute those ingredients that contain wheat, rye or barley for one that doesn’t have those proteins. For example, if you are looking for a cake recipe and it is made of wheat flour, just use a different kind of flour based on almond, lentil, coconut, brown rice, etc. Here is a short list for substituting ingredients. A lot of celiacs get frustrated because they think they can’t eat tasty, don’t be one of them. You can make any meal you want, whether it is a dessert, appetizer or anything. Just substitute the ingredients that can hurt your health.  

5. Make a grocery list  

Once you have your delicious Christmas menu ready, it will be time to start writing down all the ingredients that you will be needing for making the recipes. Even if you will host the celebration, party or event, or celebrate by yourself, you should be in charge of your menu to avoid the high risk of cross-contamination. Take care of your gluten-free meals because no one else will care as much as you, especially if someone is not aware of the negative impact that a small amount of wheat can have in your body. So by now you should have your recipes list ready. Go through all the ingredients and right portions that you will be needing for cooking, and go to your favorite store to get the gluten-free ingredients you need.  

6. Cook your food

I know that a lot of people don’t like cooking and feel lazy to even think about it, but the key to having a safe gluten-free eating habit is to cook your own meals, that way you will trust the cook and you will know every single ingredient you will be using.  

Don’t skip this step.  

If you need help with learning how to be careful when cooking gluten-free, download "The Easy Gluten-Free Cooking Checklist" here.  

Trusting someone that will cook many dishes gluten-based for different people may not be safe. I know what you are thinking: I’m gonna ask the cook to make my food separate and with no gluten.  

We know that’s practically impossible because the other person probably doesn’t even know how to avoid cross-contamination by for example not using the same knife for cutting bread and your food.

For these Holidays is better if you take care of your food and make it with your favorite gluten-free brands.

7. Eat before the party  

If you are eating Christmas Eve dinner at someone’s house, make sure you get there with food in your stomach. Once you dressed up and are ready to go, eat something before you leave. This way if you arrive to your family’s house and there is nothing safe for you to eat, at least you won’t be hungry. If you get to the party and are starving, it will be easier for you to eat something that isn’t safe.  

8. Pack your food 

Very simple, pack the delicious food you cooked and take it with you. Put everything in tupperwares or foil trays and just take them wherever you’ll be celebrating Christmas Eve dinner. Once you arrive there and everyone will start eating their gluten dinner, you’ll be having your delicious and safe gluten-free christmas feast!  

9. Don’t feel sorry for saying NO  

Peer pressure is an annoying factor.  

More than once we go out and someone offers us to eat or drink something we don’t want, we say no, and they insist. Well, insist harder on making your answer clear: NO!  

The truth is that if you don’t know for sure what you are about to eat, that can bring consequences to your health.  

It’s difficult to know if the beverage someone is offering you, was made with gluten-free alcohol. Or if the appetizers that a friend is offering you has gluten or not.  

Just don’t feel bad if you have to say “no thanks” and they reply “come on, we are all drinking, are you going to be the only one not drinking?”  

A lot of alcohol beverages contain gluten, so just skip that drink and go with the safe treats for you.  

10. Don’t feel sorry for saying NO  

Again, peer pressure. Be strong with your answer. If someone offers you to try a bite from their food, just say NO. If you are not sure if that food contains gluten or not, why even bothering try it? Just don’t try food that you don’t know if it’s celiac safe. Sure, go ahead and give someone else a bite from your food, but don’t eat anyone else’s food.  

11. Don’t fall into temptation 

Be strong and do not eat food that you don’t know if it’s going to be safe for your stomach.  

No matter how delicious wheat-based food may seem, keep in mind that your food is even more delicious.  

Try not to arrive to the Christmas Eve dinner with nothing in your stomach because that will bring you closer to temptation.  

Just avoid trying food that is probably cross-contaminated.  

If you follow all these steps, I’m sure you will be enjoying the safe and delicious gluten-free Christmas feast that you were waiting for since the last Holiday season!  

by Mariana Lessmann






LET'S MEET


We are Mariana Lessmann and Matt Ackerson.

Mariana graduated from Communications & Journalism in Caracas, Venezuela, and has over 10 years of experience as a writer. She has worked on Digital Marketing, and for over 10 prestigious Cable Television Channels aired in Latin America. Matt graduated from Cornell University in New York. He started his own company in 2010, and has been running it by himself since then. Matt is an expert in Marketing, Sales, and creating 6-Figure Funnels for online businesses.

Over the past year we decided to start a company together and created "Vookies", that later expanded and became "Be Breader". We have been helping celiacs around the world to optimize and improve their health by incorporating safe and delicious meals into their daily menus.

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