Gluten-free Christmas ideas

Many people are trying to eat more gluten-free options these days. But, some people really cannot have gluten even if it is Christmas. They are intolerant to it, or they have Celiac disease which makes it impossible for them to eat anything with gluten. If that is the case within your family, then you’re going to want to learn about some different gluten-free ideas for the holidays. Honestly, it just starts with some substitutions that will still be delicious.

Rice and Potatoes Instead of Bread Stuffing

You can make amazing gluten-free stuffing or dressing with rice and/or potatoes. Your guests will love it and not even realize that you’re making things gluten free to enjoy. Instead, they’ll just think your new stuffing recipe is delicious. Check out this tasty recipe:
http://detoxinista.com/2014/11/wild-rice-mushroom-stuffing-vegan-gluten-free/

Pie Crusts Ideas

One thing that gets people stuck sometimes when trying to find gluten-free ideas is pie crust. Everyone wants some pumpkin pie but most gluten-free crusts are horrible.

The best way to approach this is to make a gluten-free graham cracker crust instead of trying to make a replica of a white flour crust with gluten-free flour. It won’t taste the same. Use graham crackers or other gluten free cookies, sugar, and butter to make a tasty crust. 

Corn Bread or Hoe Cakes

You can make wonderful gluten-free corn bread or, better yet, why not make hoe cakes which are made only with salt, sugar, water, and corn meal. They are delicious and gluten free. No one will miss the yeast rolls when they have butter dripping off their hoe cake and down their chin as they enjoy them. 

Thicken Gravy with Corn Starch

Many gravies are thickened with flour but you can use a little corn starch instead. Same with soups and stews. Any recipe that calls for just a couple tablespoons flour for thickening purposes can easily be substituted with corn starch. 

Additionally, offer a lot of plant-based foods such as veggies and fruit. You don’t need to add any gluten ingredients to them to make them taste delicious. Gluten is just a protein in most wheat (flour) based products. Read labels and you’ll be amazed at what is already gluten free that you enjoy eating

Vegetarian Christmas ideas

More and more people are choosing to eat less meat. Normally, you don’t think of Christmas as a holiday full of vegetarian ideas. But, Christmas isn’t really just about the turkey or ham. Think about all the side dishes that are normally served with the meat, and you have lots of opportunities to make all the sides vegetarian so that it gives everyone plenty of choices.

Vegetarians do eat eggs, cheese, and other dairy products, so you really have a wide breadth of ingredients that you can use to make delicious choices for the vegetarians at your table. Let’s go over some wonderful ideas.

* Vegetarian Nut Roast – This is delicious and you’ll want to eat this nut roast again in the New Year. With all the nuts and cheese, it’s very rich and filling.

* Cheesy Mushroom Omelet – No need to starve at breakfast as a vegetarian; try this cheesy mushroom omelet to please not just the vegetarians in your family but everyone else too. It’s very filling and very healthy. 

* Carrot Tart – This tart is super-special and is impressive to serve to your vegetarian guests. Everyone likes cooked carrots, butter, and the combination this creates. Your guests’ mouths will water when they see this. As you know, people eat with their eyes first, and this is a lot of attractive food for one table. 

* Butternut Squash Wellington – This beautiful and delicious dish starts with the idea of beef Wellington but ends up with a delightful package of veggies that are rich and delicious. It’s not as hard to make as you may think.

You get the idea. You can also simply skip some ingredients for your side dishes. For example, if you normally use bacon grease in your green bean casserole or your collards, just use butter or olive oil instead. You can also add a little liquid smoke if you miss that smoky meat flavor.

It’s not very hard to make these sides, and your meal will be delicious and loved by all. Don’t worry, you don’t have to try to recreate meat for your vegetarian guests. They’re going to be perfectly happy with the sides being something they can enjoy. They won’t miss the meat on their plate and don’t need any fake meat-like substances to replace the meat you offer to the other guests.

Catering for vegan guests at Christmas

A vegan doesn’t eat any type of animal-derived products. They don’t eat eggs, dairy, fish, or any type of meat whatsoever. They don’t eat butter or even something with trace amounts of milk or dairy inside. This makes preparing a meal seem a lot harder, but you can easily adapt some of your side dishes for your vegan guests and make them super-happy.

Vegans aren’t as much of a pain as people like to claim. It’s just that they stand out when they’re trying to choose food to eat because they must ask about ingredients. If they already knew some of the food was vegan (because you label it as such), they won’t even mention that they’re vegan. And no, they won’t critique others for eating meat or animal products either.

All you do to make some of your side dishes vegan is to choose the dishes that are almost vegan already. For example, if you have a dish that calls for milk and butter, you can instead use almond or cashew milk and vegan butter and it’ll turn out just fine. It’s not really recommended to try to sub out a lot of cheese or to make food that “looks like” meat to please your vegan counterparts. Normally vegans prefer whole-food, plant-based food over highly processed fake meat products. But here are some ideas.

* Sweet Potato and Eggplant Casserole – We all like to eat sweet potatoes at the holidays, so this is a perfect item to make for your vegan friends and family. You may surprise yourself and find tons of things you like too about this dish.

* Mashed Cauliflower and Green Bean Casserole – This twist on traditional green bean casserole is one to write home about. It’s beautiful visually and delicious too. Your entire family will enjoy this one – plus, it’s not hard to make.

* Pumpkin and Mushroom Quiche – Okay, it’s not really a quiche because there are no eggs in it. But it’s a delicious meal that you should try. If you have meat eaters at your event, don’t call it quiche to avoid discussion and enable more eating.

* Tempeh a L’Orange with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings – While you don’t need to make meat subs, tempeh is very good. It’s just fermented soy bean that is usually fried. It has a lot of flavors and collects other flavors very easily. The texture is nice and even meat eaters enjoy eating it once they try it.

You can honestly offer your vegan guests some awesome veggie side dishes, salad, and a great vegan dessert choice and they’ll be delighted. But if you make one of these recipes, they’ll know they’re truly loved.

Many families have someone who suffers from diabetes come to their holiday dinner. Thankfully, it’s not hard to offer them choices they’ll be happy to take.

Supporting your diabetic guests at Christmas

Diabetes is a serious disease that doesn’t take a break for the holidays. No matter what, a diabetic has a specific diet that they must follow if they want to be healthy and control their disease.

The best thing you can do for the people you know who are diabetic is to provide good choices that are safe for them to eat, and then stand back and mind your own business.

For the most part, a diabetic can eat almost anything that you eat daily. No one should be eating tons of sugar and fat, and those are the two main things that diabetics need to watch. But, a diabetic usually needs to count every single carb they eat and eat extra protein to stay balanced.

Therefore, if you stick to a basic “Mediterranean Diet” menu without added sugar or added fat, you will be safe. It might sound boring to cook things without adding sugar or fat, but there are so many options that you’re going to be surprised.

For example, a great dessert for a diabetic that is also beautiful (and happens to be vegan, sugar-free, and gluten free) is strawberry pudding. Chia seeds are used to make it thick and give it that pudding texture. Just add 3 TBS chia seeds (soaked in a little water until it looks gelatinous) to two cups strawberries.

Blend the mixture. Pour into serving dishes and top with chopped strawberries. You can do this trick with any fruit to make a delicious and creamy pudding. Add a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream if you desire.

Your diabetic family members will be able to enjoy the turkey and even the ham if you don’t serve it with the candy coating that some spiralized ham has. Consider replacing some of your mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower to cut down on carbs but still provide a delicious veggie side dish on which to serve gravy. 

Instead of sandwiches, try lettuce wraps for leftovers. Any type of meat or veg is great inside crunchy iceberg lettuce or butter lettuce. Even eggs and bacon taste good in a lettuce wrap, so give it a shot. You might even prefer lettuce wraps to some of the low-carb bread that is available right now.

Roasted veggies are also a great way to enjoy veggies as a diabetic. Just measure your oil. A 9 x 13 baking pan full of roasted root veggies doesn’t need more than a tablespoon of olive oil to make it delicious. The trick is to put all your veggies into a bowl, measure the oil, measure the herbs and spices and then use your hands to mix it up before putting into a pan covered with parchment paper. They’ll still taste great and not like “diet” food at all. In fact, they’re going to taste better since you won’t be over-oiling them.

While we’re in the “a little goes a long way”-line, next time we’ll join you again with a discussion about how to cut down on alcohol during the holidays.

Tips for cutting down on alcohol at Christmas

It often seems as if everyone is drinking a lot during the holidays. If you prefer not to, there are wonderful choices to make festive non-alcoholic drinks instead. There is literally no requirement or reason to offer alcohol at your Christmas party or dinner. But, if it’s there, here are some tips to help you get a handle on what you drink.

* Alcohol as Flavoring – Many times, a little goes a long way. When you use wine in your cooking, the alcohol is burned off, so you don’t need to change your recipe for Marsala chicken. It’s a flavoring and doesn’t translate to the same thing as drinking alcohol. Even children can enjoy food that happened to be cooked with some form of alcohol in it.

* Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach – Never go straight for the alcohol. Instead, if you want to drink your favorite alcoholic beverage, enjoy it slowly after you’re full and after you’re fully hydrated. That way you can enjoy just one or two at the most because it tastes good and not because you’re hungry or thirsty.

* Just Don’t Offer It – If you really want to cut down on alcohol consumption during the holidays, offer other forms of drinks instead. You can make delicious punch, eggnog and more using flavorings or non-alcoholic ingredients that are just as good (if not better) than the alcohol counterparts. If it’s not there, no one will be drinking it.

* Have a Time for Drink – Instead of just having alcohol out always, just have it out and offer it during a specific time. For example, during the appetizers you might offer a choice of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic punch. Make the recipe to offer only one serving to each drinking guests so that when it’s gone it’s gone. Conversely, if no one is driving, offer a single drink an hour before everyone goes to bed.

* Alternate – If you happen to attend a holiday party where drinking is the focus, try alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. This will cut down how much you drink. Plus, don’t agree to “buy or take” rounds or drink shots. Saying no is okay, because you’re a grown-up and you can say no.

Cutting down on your alcohol consumption or being cognizant of your guests’ travel arrangements will help everything go a lot more smoothly during your holiday. Christmas is a time for family and friends, and not just an excuse to drink. Drink if it’s delicious, but not just because it’s alcoholic.

Christmas recipe storage ideas

Keeping track of what you cook for the holidays will help you make each holiday go smoother. Every recipe, whether passed down or discovered online, gets altered by the cook. It’s a great idea to keep track of that and then to save the recipe. Not only that – you might make a recipe that is horrible, and you want to note that too so you don’t forget. Here are some ways to store your recipes.

* Recipe Book – Get a notebook or scrapbook with clear sleeves, then just put the recipes inside. You can put magazine recipes, recipes printed out from the computer, your 5 x 7 cards, and even recipes written on the back of Christmas paper inside this notebook. It’s a great way to keep them.

* Electronically – Another way to keep your recipes is electronically. There is software for recipe databases that you can use on your computer, or you can just use the filing system and folders already available on your computer. Try Big Oven: https://www.bigoven.com/software/windows

* 5 x 7 Cards – Many people still like using 5 x 7 cards and a box to save their recipes. It’s a good way because people like taking the cards out and using them during cooking. Some people like to laminate them too.

* Cookbooks – Often, there will only be a handful of recipes you like or cook out of any given cookbook. A great way to store these is to mark the pages that have the recipes you like and keep them on a bookshelf in your kitchen. In the front of the book, highlight the recipes you do like so that you don’t have to leaf through the book all the time.

* Online – Sites like Just a Pinch (https://www.justapinch.com/) offer ways to save recipes and add your own original recipes and pictures. Just a Pinch additionally lets you print out your own cookbook based on the recipes you have created.

* Photos – Another good way to keep a recipe is to take a photo with your phone of the dish, print it out, and then glue or write the recipe on the back of the image. That way they know what it’s supposed to look like.

A great idea regardless of how you save your recipes is to make a note when you cook about how you changed or altered them. That way if you did something that was extra wonderful, you can repeat it next time.

Using Christmas leftovers

The only thing better than Christmas dinner is Christmas leftovers. It’s one of the few times of the year that everyone looks forward to having leftovers. Thankfully, there are tons of ways to use traditional Christmas food creatively in leftovers.

* Wraps – Almost anything is good in a wrap. You can use different things for the wrap such as lettuce, cabbage, jicama, tortillas, seaweed and more. Be creative about it. Go out of your comfort zone and choose an entirely different country. You can use cooked sweet potatoes and other roasted veggies to make vegetarian sushi rolls, or put it all inside some butter lettuce and crunch away.

* Soup – You have veggies, you have gravy, you have meat. Well, this is all you need to make a delicious soup. Put it all in the pot, add some broth, and it’ll be done as soon as it’s all hot since the ingredients were already cooked. It’s a fast way to enjoy soup. Leftover ham, potatoes, and some corn can become corn chowder. Leftover mixed veggies and turkey can become veggie soup. Leftover turkey, gravy, and broth can become dumplings. It’s easy if you think of the flavors and ingredients.

* Casseroles – If you have leftover veggies and leftover meat, you can combine it in different ways into a casserole. For example, try any of these leftover turkey casseroles: https://communitytable.parade.com/447935/lorilange/10-casserole-recipes-using-leftover-turkey-or-chicken/

* Old-Fashioned Sandwich – Try turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing on sour dough. It’s going to be delicious and will make any leftovers go super-fast. Try toasting the bread first to make it handle more fillings and give you that satisfying crunch.

* Pizza – Anything can go on top of a pizza. Yes, even leftovers. Think outside the box. Putting anything on crust tastes delicious. You don’t even need to add cheese if you don’t want to, but of course, cheese makes everything even better. Get creative on the type of cheese you use. For example, goat cheese would pair great with turkey, and leftover ham will pair well with cheddar.

* Put It in a Pita – Another way to serve up leftovers is inside pita bread. Try this recipe, subbing turkey for the chicken:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/leftovers-in-a-pita-recipe-1957510
You could also put ham and pineapple in a pita and it’s going to be super-delicious.

* Look Up Ideas – There are so many ideas out there about how to use Christmas leftovers that you can find if you do a quick Google search. Try here for starters and your imagination may be ignited for even more ideas: https://www.thespruce.com/christmas-leftovers-recipes-479641

Using leftovers are a great way to stretch your budget. If you go into planning your Christmas dinner knowing what you’ll do with the leftovers, it’ll help you increase your budget because you are going to use every ounce of ingredients longer than just the one dinner.

Meal ideas for New Year celebrations

New Year is the perfect time to make things simple. You’re going to be staying up late to bring in the new year, so why not make the party easy by not overcomplicating meal planning. The trick is to consider your heritage when you get started planning.

For example, it’s southern tradition to offer black-eyed peas, collards, and cornbread or hoe cakes on New Years’ Day to bring in the New Year and expand luck. Knowing about this tradition can inform your meal planning. Other locations have their traditions too. Let’s look at some, because you may get ideas from them.

* Soba – In Japan, it’s tradition to enjoy this noodle dish on New Year’s Eve to bring in the New Year. The noodles, made from buckwheat, symbolize longevity. 

* Sauerkraut – In Germany, it’s common practice to eat sauerkraut to bring in the New Year on New Year’s Eve. They believe it brings in wealth and improves good fortune for the New Year. You can find a lot of sauerkraut recipes online, but this one is special with the addition of pork for New Year’s: http://www.food.com/recipe/new-years-pork-and-sauerkraut-471056
If you don’t eat pork, you can also try this one:
http://www.quick-German-recipes.com/sauerkraut-salad.html

* Grapes – In Spain, people will eat 12 grapes (one for each stroke of midnight) to prevent starting out the New Year wrong. It’s called the 12 grapes of luck. A great way to incorporate this tradition is to put 12 grapes in everyone’s toasting champagne or ensure that you have enough grapes on your buffet table to go around.

* Cotechino con Lenticchie – This is an Italian practice to eat gold lentils with pork to bring prosperity and luck for the New Year. In addition, they usually eat a huge seafood dinner. 

* Vasilopita – A cake with a coin inside is served at midnight in this Greek New Year’s tradition. Whoever gets the coin is said to have extra luck during the New Year. 

Regardless of your heritage or culture, there is some sort of New Year’s practice that you may not even know about. You can incorporate more than one of these ideas into your New Year’s menu to create added meaning to the night, especially if you explain the cultural significance to your guests. What is your family’s New Year’s Tradition?

Regardless of how we eat during the holidays, almost everyone sets New Year’s eating resolutions, even if they don’t say it out loud.

New Year’s eating resolutions

One thing great about resolutions is that when the holidays come around again, you can fall off and enjoy everything again. If you’re super-good during the rest of the year, you can indulge even more because you won’t be worried about gaining weight.

* Set a Goal – Your goal doesn’t have to involve weight loss. Instead, you might make a goal to not drink coke until Thanksgiving Day. That’s a great goal because it’s very specific and has a timetable. It’s not “forever” and is something most people can stick to for a specified time. You can do that with anything you want.

* Write It Down – Don’t just make a goal in your mind. Make a specific goal that you can write down and record. When you can write it down, you’re more likely to stick to it. If you write down each reason you aren’t going to eat something, as well as what you are going to eat, you’ll be able to look at that list anytime to get motivation.

* Get Support – Ask for friends and family to support you. Start a Facebook group to help you stay motivated. If other people are on the same track as you that you can go to when you feel weak or share your successes with, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

* Be Realistic – Don’t set crazy goals. Don’t say you’re “never” going to do something. You may want to become a vegan, but being a perfectionist isn’t good for anyone and will make you feel like a failure no matter how well you do.

* Start Small – If you have a goal to go meat free, start with one meat-free day a week, and then expand that over time. Same if you want to start walking. Walk for five minutes today, six tomorrow and so forth until you meet your goal.

* Changes Not Exclusions – A great way to look at eating resolutions is to change but not exclude things. For example, instead of eating bread with every meal, add extra vegetables to help fill you up for fewer calories and fewer carbs.

Making New Year’s eating resolutions is a good way to kick-start your year with healthy changes to your eating habits. If you can at least improve your eating through until Thanksgiving, you’re going to make a huge impact on your health.

Healthy eating after Christmas

When Christmas is over, most people feel as if they need a break from the heavy holiday food that they’ve been eating. It’s the perfect time to try to start eating healthier, even while navigating the leftovers.

Balance Your Meals

Focus at first on balancing your meals. Each of your meals should contain a healthy mix of carbs, protein, and fat. If you focus on smaller meals stretched over six times per day (about every three hours), you’ll avoid the energy slumps and feelings of hunger that can knock people off their plan.

Drink Water

Stop drinking any other beverages than water for thirst. You should drink at least 64 ounces of water each day (depending on your weight and how much watery fruits and veggies you consume). If you avoid drinking your calories, you’ll find that you don’t really mind and you will seem to lose weight without trying at first.

Take Supplements

The only supplements most people need are vitamins D and B12. However, some people need magnesium supplements. If you have issues sleeping, you might try a magnesium supplement at night to help.

Add Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds

The more you can add these ingredients to your food, the better. These foods are high in nutrition, protein, and macronutrients that your body needs to be healthy. And they’re low in calories and fat but high on flavor.

Use a Smaller Plate and Serve Smaller Portions

It also helps to use a smaller plate. Did you know that plate size has increased (even in our homes) by 30 percent over the last 30 years? Don’t believe it? Check out your grandmother’s dishes or go to a thrift store with older dishes. Check out older versions of Corelle dishes and you’ll realize how big our plates are today. If you check portion sizes from the 1950s compared to today, you’ll realize we are eating too much.

Eat More Non-Starchy Veggies

Adding non-starchy veggies to your meals will help you lose weight while also filling you up. Beans, asparagus, spinach, and more are all non-starchy veggies that will satisfy your hunger, give you more nutrition, and keep you from over-eating the meat and fat on your plate.

Get Your Entire Family Involved

Don’t cook separate meals for yourself, and don’t give your family food that you won’t eat. Instead, get everyone on the same page and involved in healthy eating. For some families, this may require a family meeting but for others, the cook, shopper, and bill payer gets to decide what everyone is eating. Depending on where you fall, it’s important to get everyone involved because then there are no temptations in the home to cause you to have food around that you can’t eat.

Eating well after the holidays may be tricky at first. Your body will crave the fat, salt, and sugar that you allowed yourself to enjoy during the holidays. This food is slightly addictive too, so you may feel bad when you first stop ingesting it. But, within just a week you’re going to lose weight, feel better, and have more energy. It will pay off.