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Holiday Guide

How do you maneuver through the holidays without gluten? With a little help from this guide! To keep your health up and your stress level down, try these tips:

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Get properly stocked for holiday parties. To avoid eating something you shouldn’t and feeling awful, fuel up on food that you know is safe. Either bring your own gluten-free dish to the party, or if you can’t, eat a sustaining mini-meal beforehand. Or spread healthy holiday cheer by hosting your own party that’s entirely gluten free.

Be ready for seasonal shopping. Stock up on snacks that give you staying power, such as nuts, nut butter sandwiches, or gluten-free protein bars, and be sure to pack them in your purse or coat pocket before you go out looking for gifts.

Grab healthy stocking stuffers. Small, easy-to-pick-up gifts that you can find in many natural food stores are gluten-free fruit and nut bars such as Pecan Pie or Cinnamon Roll Larabars, organic cotton socks, gluten-free lip balms, such as the new Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Lip Balm (which is made out of cacao butter, so it really provides a chocolate kiss!), and natural food store gift certificates.

Tea up the right way. On a chilly winter evening, nothing warms the body or soul quite like hot tea. Unfortunately, many types of tea contain barley malt or other sources of hidden gluten, so be careful. Go out of your way to buy safe teas, including single-ingredient teas, such as chamomile or green tea, and seasonal favorites that are labeled gluten-free, such as Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane or Good Earth Sweet and Spicy. When you go Christmas caroling, ice-skating or to outdoor holiday events, bring along a few gluten-free tea bags that you can use if you need them.

Limit sweets. It’s all too common for many people to overeat sweetened baked goods and desserts during the holiday season. But eating many sugary sweets set us up for digestive upset, mood swings, weight gain, weakened immunity to fend off colds and flus, and more. To stay healthy during the holidays, make more treats that are unsweetened or sweetened with just fruit. Some fruit-based treats, such as medjool dates stuffed with unsweetened peanut or almond butter, are a rich dessert, yet very easy to make. At holiday functions, have a few bites of dessert rather than a large serving. When making recipes, try replacing nutrient-void white sugar with nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic sweeteners, such as organic coconut or palm sugar.

Enjoy simply prepared seasonal foods. Instead of slaving away in the kitchen making complicated dishes, keep meals simple, and focus on serving in-season, naturally gluten-free foods that have a gourmet taste and are simple to make. Serve shell-on nuts with nutcrackers to crack them-the ultimate winter holiday appetizer. Or toast shelled nuts in your oven and serve the scrumptious morsels warm to guests. Try adding dried cranberries to salads, quinoa, or brown or wild rice pilaf. And for a holiday brunch, bake apples-a simple, warming, elegant treat-to serve with gluten-free turkey sausage.

Make It!

Breakfast Baked-Apple Halves
Serves 4

For a warm, satisfying, fiber-rich addition to a holiday brunch, try this easy recipe. The type of apple that is used can make a big difference in flavor, texture, and appearance. Honeycrisp apples are recommended because they fare best on all counts in this no-added-sweetener dish. Reprinted from Going Against the Grain Group, 2010, by Melissa Diane Smith.

2 large organic Honeycrisp apples

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ cup organic raisins

¼ cup chopped pecans

1 tsp. lemon juice

Organic butter to grease pan

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Wash and pat-dry apples. Grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch square glass baking pan or 9-inch glass pie plate well with butter.
  3. In a small bowl, mix raisins, cinnamon, pecans, and lemon juice, and set aside. Cut apples in half and use a corer/peeler to scoop out cores and seeds, and create indented cavities in each apple half.
  4. Spoon the raisin-pecan mixture into four evenly-divided mounds on baking pan and place each apple half, cut side down, on each mound, using a spoon to spoon the raisin-pecan mixture under apples.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until apples yield easily to a fork. To serve, place apple halves, cut sides up, on plates. Spoon the raisin-pecan mixture on top.

Serve warm.

per serving: 178 cal; 1 g prot; 8 g total fat (2 g sat fat); 29 g carb; 8 mg chol; 23 mg sod; 5 g fiber; 21 g sugars