A Gluten-Free Holiday Kickoff—Eating Healthier During the Holidays

The delightful Ricki (Diet, Dessert and Dogs; i.e., DDD) kicked off our Gluten-Free Holiday event today with a post that inspired me, encouraged me, made my mouth water, and most of all reminded me of why I’m so happy and proud to be a part of this event. Ricki’s theme is Healthier Through the Holidays. Ricki is a terrific hostess for this theme as she’s maintaining a 45-pound weight loss. If you’re already thinking (in protest) that you don’t want to eat celery sticks and eat rice cakes during the next two months, think again. Ricki is not about deprivation. She is herself the author of several amazing dessert e-books. In her post today, she shares yet another dessert creation that will have you in awe that healthy ingredients can triumph in such a delectable way. I won’t steal Ricki’s thunder. I’ll just say one word. Truffles. I’ll also share one photo of Ricki’s truffles. These are not the kind of truffles that the pigs (or dogs) root for … although you will certainly be rooting for these—in a different way—once you see them.

If all of the above isn’t enough to make you go read Ricki’s post, there’s also a great giveaway (as there will be every week in this event)! Ricki’s giving away a copy of Cybele Pascal’s The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook and three signed copies of Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre’s The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. Both books average 5 stars for their Amazon reviews. Impressive for sure. Now I really want to check out Cybele’s cookbook! I’m already a big, big fan of Ali and Tom’s cookbook. I’ve said before that I think the label “cookbook” doesn’t do justice to their book. (You can read my brief review with one of my favorite recipes of Ali and Tom’s here.) Check out all the healthy recipes and tip posts that folks have linked up over at DDD as well.

I can’t always profess to be an example of healthy eating during the holidays. However, some guidelines I’ve followed that have made my holidays healthier in the past are planning, avoiding the foods I have no control over, opting for a protein-filled appetizer over empty calorie snack food, and eating more savory foods to avoid overindulgence in the sweet foods (which tend to be the ones I can’t control).

I’m not a master planner when it comes to meals, but during the holidays I find that at least minimal planning around special events is critical. It’s not just for personal health, but family sanity! Start putting up the Christmas tree in the afternoon without a plan for a somewhat quickly eaten dinner and you’ll end up with grumpy, hungry, and crazy family members who could probably give the characters in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a run for their money. Slow-cooked or quick dinner options, as well as pre-made appetizers/snacks can save the day in this case. Pulled pork, crab ball, Popeye protein bars, flourless pizza, blackened black bean burgers, and baked potato soup are all possible options. Some seem indulgent, but they don’t have to be overly so, and they can keep the sweet cravings at bay. I’d much rather enjoy a mug of baked potato soup than find myself and my family desperately eating from a bag of M&M’s or potato chips because I didn’t plan ahead a bit. Slow-cooked pulled pork is ready right when you need it and can be complemented by a healthy slaw or salad. Crab ball, which is both full of protein and heavenly, is quickly made that day or the previous evening. Popeye protein bars are full of goodness and don’t lead one to eat another … and then another. Flourless pizza crusts can be made the day before. Toppings can be lots of veggies to make for a much healthier, but still very tasty pizza experience. Blackened black bean burgers come together quickly, but also can be prepared the day before an event and quickly reheated in your skillet.

My mother makes the world’s best fudge. She uses the recipe that used to be on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa can (from about 30 years ago). It consists of cocoa, sugar, milk, butter, salt, and vanilla. It’s a “hard,” non-gooey fudge. It’s totally irresistible and addictive. Eating a piece is like “going right for the vein.” My only way to deal with this fudge is to ask Mom not to give me any or to ask her to bring it to a family gathering where I only feel comfortable enjoying one or two pieces. Sharing trumps fudge addiction every time.

Those are just a few of the ways I try to better cope with some of the holiday madness. You can read more tips for eating healthy during the holiday from some of our other participating hostesses: AltaCarrie, and Amy.

Here’s a reminder listing below of the hostesses and themes for the remainder of A Gluten-Free Holiday. Hope you’ll join us every week!

On Thursdays in November and December, a different gluten-free blogger will host a link-up event where you can share your best gluten-free holiday dishes.  The linky will be open until the following Wednesday at 10:00 pm CST.

Remaining Dates, Themes, and Prizes:

November 11th – Thanksgiving Favorites right here at gfe–gluten free easily

Next week share your favorite gluten-free Thanksgiving dish from appetizers to desserts. Think stuffing, turkey dishes, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly…anything Thanksgiving goes. (To our Canadian friends – please share the Thanksgiving dishes you made earlier this year, too!) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday … it’s family, friends, food, and gratitude focused!

November 18th – Gifts of Good Taste at Tasty Eats at Home

Who doesn’t love a gift made with love? Share your favorite foodie gift that’s gluten-free. Have a fabulous way to pack a yummy treat? We want to see that, too. I’ve seen some great gift ideas on my “must read” gluten-free blogs already (like this one, which makes me think of George Clooney).

December 2nd – Holiday Entrees & Side Dishes at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang

Bring your family’s favorite entrees and sides.  Diane will be ready for them all.  Even though Hanukkah starts on December 2nd this year, we hope our friends who observe Hanukkah will still join us.

December 9th – Holiday Breakfast & Brunch at Ginger Lemon Girl

A warm, cozy breakfast or brunch is a wonderful way to start off the holiday.  This is a great time to help someone else by whipping up your fabulous gluten-free cinnamon rolls or a crumb-topped coffee cake and sharing your recipe. I’ve been working sporadically on an entry for this theme. Fingers crossed that it will be ready in a month!

December 16th – Holiday Desserts at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

Just like it sounds—bring your favorite gluten-free Christmas desserts for everyone to share.  Cookies, pies, truffles, cakes, and candies … we want to try them all. Desserts are always the perfect ending, don’t you think?

Upcoming giveaway prizes will include the following:

Start participating today and planning for the remaining weeks for the best ever gluten-free holiday! 

Remember … if you’d like to share this event on your blog, simply right click on our event badge at the top of this post, save it to your desktop, and upload it to your blog.  We’d love for you to share this event with your friends! If you’d like to spread the word on Twitter, the hashtag is #GFHoliday—thanks!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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23 Responses to “A Gluten-Free Holiday Kickoff—Eating Healthier During the Holidays”

  1. glutenfreeforgood on November 5th, 2010 7:06 am

    Oh my gosh, please (PLEASE) don’t tell me it’s almost Thanksgiving. Really? What happened to September and October? Seriously, I’m so NOT ready for this. In fact, it’s not even 5 AM here in Colorado and I’m already behind for the day. =) I’m in the midst of this yoga immersion and won’t be coming up for air (big breath in, big breath out) for another 3 weeks or so. Thanksgiving this year may be gluten-free sweet potato, black bean and turkey enchiladas. Actually, that sounds good. I’ll keep you posted.

    Anyway, I love the direction you all are taking with “Eating Healthier for the Holidays” and I’d love to barge in on occasion. I also love Ricki’s (and yours, Shirley) view that this does not have to be about deprivation, it’s about smart (and wonderfully tasty) choices. Sometimes we just need some inspiration.

    Once again, your positive energy has inspired me to have fun with all this, create interesting and healthy desserts (or whatever) and pay attention to my calendar!

    Yikes! The holidays? Really?

    Okay, got it. Thanks once again for keeping me on track, my friend.


    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 7:17 am

      Hey Melissa–I hear you, sister! It’s one of those times when you want to hit the “Pause” button and get your act together before the holidays hit. ;-) I do hope you’ll join us when you can because I always love what you have to offer, Melissa. :-)

      Hope your yoga immersion program has been intensely rewarding. It sure sounds like it has. I love yoga and immersing one’s self in it sounds like a different kind of vacation than the one I just went on, but one that I could get a lot out of … can’t wait to learn more!


  2. Linda on November 5th, 2010 12:32 pm

    Shirley, you got me on the fudge. My mom always makes fudge (she makes a softer kind with marshmallow cream) and always makes sure there is some that is kept separate and doesn’t get contaminated. And she always sends some home with me. So with having my own private stash and more to go home with, I eat way more than I should. You’ve encouraged me to set some limitations.

    Looking forward to all the Gluten-Free Holiday posts!

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 7:22 am

      Hi Linda–Doesn’t it make you feel so special when your mom does that? :-) If you can exercise control or eat less in other areas, you’ll probably be fine with still getting your fudge stash from your mom. But, once I start eating my mom’s fudge I can’t stop and then I move on to other things once the sweet tooth is activated. :-(

      The Gluten-Free Holiday posts will all be such fun! Hope you got to check out Ricki’s kickoff. :-)


  3. Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com on November 5th, 2010 3:19 pm

    I NEED that fudge recipe Shirley!! Does it just call for milk and not sweetened condensed milk? Sounds like a great job for So Delicious Coconut Milk, LOL!

    Luke went nuts for “budge” last year so Santa wants to make sure he is stocked up with a dairy-free version for him. ;-)

    Thanks for your awesome round-ups (as always), I’ve been away from the computer for so long that I haven’t known where to begin catching up, you’re my hero!


    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 7:44 am

      Heidi–I’m supposed to be encouraging you to eat healthier, not eat my mom’s totally sinful fudge recipe. There are 3, yes, 3 cups of sugar in a single batch!!!! Now if we can make it healthier that’s great, but that’s hard to do when you are starting out wiht 3 cups of sugar! Still, if you can make a healthier, dairy-free version of this “budge,” I’m game. ;-) I’ll be in touch!

      Thanks as always for your sweet, encouraging words … now I’m the one behind on the computer! xoxo,

  4. Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free on November 5th, 2010 5:56 pm

    Shirley, I am with Heidi on the fudge recipe! I want! I want! ;)
    And we have to do a bit of planning around here as it is my children who end up awfully grumpy if I end up too caught up in the holiday decorating with out having our meals all lined up and ready to go. I also have a grumpy Uncle Norm that I just wrote about in my latest post that would rival those characters in National Lampoons Christmas vacation!
    I may just have to have a couple of your ideas on hand this season since we all seem to get so crazy all the time!
    Also, cannot wait to hear how your trip to Betty Crocker went!

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 7:48 am

      Kim–Oh, you girls are so bad … the idea was to skip the fudge, not make it and indulge! LOL I can’t say I blame you though … it’s the best fudge ever. Other fudge pales in comparison. ;-)

      I need to read about Uncle Norm! But, yes, that’s the way it is around here. I think we all tend to push through getting things done to have the perfect holidays and when we don’t plan our food, the results are far opposite from perfect. :-( I really recommend the slow cooker or an appetizer or two prepped ahead that will work as a meal. It’s much more fun to eat appetizers anyway, right? Festive! :-)

      Here’s hoping to a non-zany Christmas for all of us! I was happy to get my Betty Crocker trip post up … it was a very worthwhile trip! xoxo,

  5. Maggie on November 6th, 2010 6:06 pm

    Thanks for the reminders Shirley! I too like to indulge during the holidays. This will be my first gluten-free and refined sugar-free holiday so I’m looking forward to testing my willpower! I love peanut m & m’s. They’re one of my weaknesses…

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:09 am

      Hi Maggie–Now that I’ve given everyone reminders, please remind me, okay? ;-) The holidays have a tendency to snowball in just about every area! One must reign one’s self in a bit. Peanut M&M’s … yep, don’t put those on the table in front of me either. I knew we were kindred spirits! Even with all that’s bad in those, I usually can’t resist them! I find with any of these treats with real sugar, dairy, etc., once I start there’s no stopping me. I’m awed that you will be experiencing your second refined sguar holiday! I’m going to follow your lead as much as possible, okay? :-)


  6. cheryl on November 6th, 2010 7:07 pm

    Hi Shirley,
    I actually have a recipe for fudge up…sugar free and chestnut based, even! Really delicious, and much less guilt factor.

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:10 am

      Hi Cheryl–Your much healthier fudge looks really good! And, I’m all for healthier … I’ve never found chestnuts to buy like that. I’ll be on the lookout now—thanks! :-)


  7. Alta on November 7th, 2010 10:35 am

    Great post! You are stronger than I with something like that fudge…I too find myself weak when it comes to sweets like that. I would end up accepting a fudge present, then after eating too much, desperately try giving the rest away. Better to not tempt in the first place, huh? :) great tips!

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:13 am

      Hi Alta–I’m only strong when my eating is in full view of others! Otherwise, that fudge, uh, evaporates and reappears on my hips … seriously. I’ve given away food in desperation like that, too. I am hosting our family Christmas Eve get together, so I’ll ask mom just to bring “my” fudge for everyone to share. That will work out … well, as long as I don’t hind the container between two other dishes on the table? ;-)

      Thanks, dear!

  8. Tracee on November 7th, 2010 12:48 pm

    I’ve put up a SCD for the Holidays page for everyone to put links to holiday recipes. I hope this will help everyone find plenty of SCD recipes, especially those who are new to the diet. If you have any SCD recipes you want to post that would be great: http://mrsedsresearchandrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/11/scd-for-holidays.html

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:15 am

      Hi Tracee–Oh, your SCD holiday page is a terrific resource! I’ll see what I can come up with for sure. I’d love to eat more SCD recipes this holiday, so the timing is great—thank you! :-)


  9. Alisa Cooks on November 8th, 2010 11:43 am

    Oh goodness, you had to remind me of fudge! I’m going to have to work on a healthier version for the holidays to keep me satiated! Great tips as usually Shirley!

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:17 am

      Hi Alisa–LOL … I know … fudge is pure holiday decadence! It’s the only time of the year that my mom makes it, but with everything else to indulge in during the holidays, it just makes sense to curb eating it and/or make a healthier version. :-)

      Thanks for the feedback, dear. I just shared a few of my thoughts about our upcoming holidays. We’ll be hosting THREE events for the holidays … that makes it even tougher! Sometimes it can be a blessing to go to others’ houses and NOT be able to eat much. ;-)


  10. Rachel on November 8th, 2010 8:51 pm

    What a pleasure it was to meet you in Minneapolis last week. You were a fantastic advocate for the GF cause and it was great that you were so knowledgeable about the issues of gluten-free certification and testing.

    Just blogged up my own thoughts about the day at General Mills over at The Crispy Cook and would love for you to stop by and see what you think. I think I got some nice photos too.

    Will try my best to participate in the Gluten-Free Holiday partying. I have a Garlic-Rosemary Jelly that I just put up with some homegrown garlic and that seems the perfect thing for the Gift week for this event.

    Looking forward to reading more of your wonderful posts. We seem to have similar food philosophies and I am going to enjoy reading your archives for more kitchen inspiration (and to get up to speed on the health and nutrition issues you are so up on). Just subscribed to the blog too.

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2010 8:22 am

      Hi Rachel–What sweet words—thank you so much! I was so happy to meet you, too. It’s nice to see the people behind those little photos that we post online, isn’t it? ;-)

      You did a really terrific job on your General Mills post! Yes, we do have very similar food philosophies … what on earth took us so long to meet? ;-) That Garlic-Rosemary Jelly does indeed sound like the perfect post for the Gluten-Free Holiday gift theme!

      Do you have email subscription on your blog? Must look around more to find that. I can’t do the RSS feed … too much to keep up with. LOL


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