That’s what the old adage says, anyway. And I am a firm believer of this saying. I never can make up my own holiday list at Christmas time, because in my mind, I don’t need more stuff cluttering up my life. I much prefer a holiday of giving.
With Thanksgiving barreling down upon us, followed closely by Chanukah or Christmas, the holiday mindset is beginning to set in for a lot of people. This means most people are drawing up lists of items they want to buy their family and friends and fretting over their Black Friday shopping strategy. The season becomes one of stressful holiday party planning. And many people lose the spirit of the season in all this chaos.
When you live with food allergies, holiday get-togethers, holiday parties, and the very act of receiving a gift of food from someone can add a little more anxiety to the season.
So, in the spirit of the season, here are a couple of ways to give Gluten-Freely during the holidays:
I love to bake. Seriously. If I’m in the kitchen, I’m normally whipping up some sort of tasty treat. And this past holiday season…my first full one of being gluten-free, I set out to create only gluten-free treats to give away to people. Why? Well, I have a gluten-free dedicated kitchen…so everything I make in there is gluten-free. No chance for cross-contamination.
I took quite a few recipes for cookies, cakes, and brownies and put my own gluten-free spin on them last year. Guess what…they were all hits. No one even tell that they were gluten-free. And that…is amazing. I think my favorite creation were my Double Chocolate Almond Cookies, which I adapted from a recipe via The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. These were a huge hit with everyone I cooked them for. A batch even got shipped to my friend Armand, in Atlanta, Ga. And he raved about them.
There are quite a few options out there if you are buying for a Celiac or gluten intolerant family member or friend. There are numerous companies online that specialize in gluten-free gift baskets that are laden with delicious gluten-free treats.
If giving away more sweets and snacks makes your health-conscious side cringe, most people who are partaking of a gluten-free diet have to be keen cooks in the kitchen. Supplying them with gluten-free flour varieties or some new kitchen utensils might be just the gift they need. After all, most people don’t want to invest in almond flour, coconut flour, white rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, etc. Why not stock their pantry with these so they can dig in and create their own gluten-free all-purpose flour, or whip one up from a recipe they’ve been saving but just haven’t had the money to go out and buy the different flour varieties.
As for utensils, a lot has to be considered in a gluten-free kitchen. Especially if not everyone in the household follows the diet. Something as simple as a new whisk to a new ice cream scoop. A new cutting board (not wooden) or new measuring cups or mixing bowls are all great ideas. Give the gift of a donut pan. Trust me…we gluten-free foodies love donuts and sometimes the only option we have is to bake them ourselves. And this can be a huge task without a donut pan.
Gluten-free cookbooks are also a great gift. This not only provides tried and true recipes, but gives someone the opportunity to take an idea and make it their own. And it’s a great way to build a foundation for gluten-free cooking and baking, especially when just getting started.
A magazine subscription to Delight or Living Without or another gluten-free themed magazine would be a great idea. These magazines are filled with articles about a gluten-free lifestyle, the trials and tribulations and how to overcome them, as well as recipes and advice.
Gift cards are a great way to go as well. Pick up one for your local grocery store that has a lot of gluten-free options on the shelf. Buy one for a restaurant with an extensive gluten-free menu and a good reputation for dealing with food allergies.
In light of Hurricane Sandy hitting the East coast earlier this month, one issue that was brought up quite a bit in the gluten-free community was the lack of gluten-free items available at food banks. With an increasing number of people being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant or Celiac, this poses quite a problem. Food banks get plenty of non-perishable foods, but most if not all of them aren’t sufficient for someone on a gluten-free diet. The people who take advantage of these donations are not in a position to turn down the help, regardless of their dietary restrictions. Simply providing non-perishable gluten-free flours and packaged mixes to your local food bank can make a huge difference. There are plenty of gluten-free soups, boxes of gluten-free macaroni and cheese, a variety of gluten-free pasta noodles, quinoa, rice, etc. that can all be taken to your food bank donation site and given to those who are in need and need to have a gluten-free diet.
This is the season to give…so why not give the gift of gluten-freedom this year? Sometimes the smallest gesture of support and understanding can mean the most to someone who has a food allergy or intolerance. And, honestly, it truly is better to give than to receive.
Karen Brady has been vegetarian since early 2010 and went gluten-free for medical reasons in February 2011. She is an avid runner in training for her upcoming first marathon. Other loves include cooking, traveling and writing, which she combines into her blog at http://veggiefoodlover.wordpress.com. She resides in Southern Indiana and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.