As I sit on my couch, watching a flurry snowflakes drift lazily by, I can’t help but feel excited for the upcoming holidays. Sure, this year it’s going to look different. Instead of time together by the wood stove, my family will be gathering by video chat. The different format, however, does not mean that it can’t feel special. And one tried-and-true ingredient for creating a festive day is festive cooking!
things to consider:
1. petit portions
One challenge this year is going to be portions. If you’re used to cooking for extended family, but your state guidelines are encouraging single-household-only gatherings, you’ll need to scale things back! Chef Kathy Gunst’s guide for a smaller Thanksgiving has some helpful tips: You could practice your math by dividing each recipe’s ingredients in half or quarters. Or, embrace the leftovers and bring what you don’t need to someone who would find joy in the extra helping. To keep the work from all landing on one person, you could coordinate with family and friends in your area; each person cooks one dish and delivers a portion to each other household.
**Note: If you plan to share food with other households, be sure to wash hands frequently and wear a mask while cooking.
2. ingredient modifications
If those at your table have food sensitivities or other dietary restrictions, cooking may come with extra complications. Luckily, our chronically complicated friends have plenty of tricks up their sleeves!
The most important thing for an inclusive holiday meal is communication. Be sure that you’ve checked in with your guests to remind yourself of their food needs. Take notes if you’re worried about remembering it all! It can be difficult to enjoy a festive meal if we can’t eat any of it, but a small change here or there can make us feel immensely valued.
1. holiday ham (or other roast)
When roasting a festive meat for someone who struggles with seasonings like garlic, simply leave a portion unseasoned! You can have seasonings in oil available if you end up wanting to add flavor later.
2. Christmas cookies
Having a variety of cookies available makes the holiday special. If you’re worried about having too many treats in the house, use the extras to make cookie boxes for friends and neighbors! Or you can always freeze the excess, and eat them as snacks throughout the winter. If your consumers have restrictions, there are plenty of recipes on the internet tailored to gluten intolerance, veganism, low-histamine diets, diabetes restrictions… or, experiment with the substitutions listed in our cooking hacks blog!
Nothing makes me feel like a kid again quite like fresh latkes! And no matter how limited my diet becomes, I can still find ways to make these pancakes work. Start with a classic recipe like this. You can use potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, or other winter vegetable for the main ingredient. Can’t eat chicken eggs? Bind it with duck eggs, imitation eggs, or get creative with flax and chia seeds. Fry in whatever oil or fat works for you. Looking to cut back on fat? Just heat it up on a griddle or in an air fryer! Season with salt for your low-blood pressure friends, or onions for your allium-tolerant buddies, and serve with applesauce or sour cream.
Perhaps this year is an opportunity to shake things up! Check out winter holiday recipes from around the country or around the world. Whatever you make, be sure to stay safe and send love to those you care about ♡
Do you have a holiday recipe you love, or tricks for cooking with chronic illness? Join the conversation in our Friend in the Fight facebook group!