Thanksgiving and Food Allergies

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • "Did you have a great holiday?"


    "What did you eat?"


    As someone with food allergies, some people don't even want to ask me those questions for fear that I couldn't eat a thing on Thanksgiving! Far from it, I went back for fourths. It is true, however, that eating away from home with food allergies can be an anxiety-producing prospect. Add the excitement of a family get-together where a traditionally nutty-wheaty-dairy-sugary meal is served, a lot of which you cannot eat, and this could send anyone with food allergies or intolerances into a food panic.


    Here's a picture of both my Thanksgiving dinner and my cousin's plate: can you tell a major difference?

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    My plate ---- Cousin's plate


    As my cousin took the photo he said, "Why am I taking this? They look the same." That was my thought exactly. When I tell people I have food allergies, they usually say, "Oh I know someone with food allergies and they have to be so careful." Then when I add that I also have some food intolerances, they invariably ask, "What DO you eat then?"


    "I eat everything," I breezily reply, "minus a few things." I work on focusing on all the yummy things I CAN eat, not what I CANNOT eat.


    In last week's interview with Alice Sherwood, she made some excellent points about how to discuss your food allergy needs with your dinner host BEFORE the dinner happens. Depending on the severity of your allergy you may need to know what's in every dish, which could necessitate a series of conversations and emails.


    Also, it never hurts to offer to make a dish or two that everyone could enjoy, allergen-free. For example, this Thanksgiving, I brought roasted root veggies (beets, carrots and rutabaga) and a parsnip puree knowing that the mashed potatoes served would probably be loaded with dairy and, thus, a no-no for me.


    Frankly, there were a few years (17 years to be precise), when I maintained a vegetarian diet that I simply brought my own yummy dinner from home and ate at the table with everyone else. And it was no big deal, really.


    This year, my Thanksgiving dinner was so delicious I wanted to extend that goodness. So I threw together a quick cranberry relish mainly from memories of recipes I've seen and what my cousin made last Thursday [hers included apricot jam which thickened the relish and gave another layer of fruity sweetness and texture]. I can't wait to swirl this into my hot Quinoa cereal or lace it with butter on a baked sweet potato.


    Cranberry Relish

    1 package of cranberries, washed and drained

    1 orange, zested then juiced

    ½ cup raw brown sugar [to taste]

    1 cup water to cover berries


    Bring to a boil then simmer until berries pop and sauce thickens approximately 10-15 minutes.


    Cranberry Relish



    Hot morning quinoa

    1 cup Quinoa rinsed and drained

    2 cups water

    Bring to a boil then simmer covered until all the water is absorbed. Basically, Quinoa is cooked just like rice.


  • High in protein, quinoa is a great alternative to oatmeal. For those of us on a wheat-free diet, it can be used sweet or savory. In the morning, I mix mine with maple syrup, some butter, cinnamon and lactose-free milk (or other non-dairy milk).

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    Quinoa has a soft texture when cooked. It is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc , copper, thiamin and riboflavin.




    Such a cool fruit to have on your holiday table. Once de-seeded, the berries can be sprinkled in soups, stews and on salad. I've been eating them straight by spoon. They're so juicy and sweet-tart.



    Pomegranate and its seeds



    If you have food allergies, what are your survival tips?

    How did you do this holiday?

    Do you have questions or concerns about the upcoming end-of-the-year celebrations?

Published On: November 26, 2007