It is December. And when I think of December, I think of parties. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or both there are always parties. And then of course at the end of the month, when the New Years parties and potlucks roll around. Not to mention all the Sunday afternoon Football game parties. Parties can be scary, especially for someone who is gluten free or just started on the road to become gluten free or especially for someone diagnosed with celiac. But don’t let this fear turn you into a party pooper. You too can enjoy really good food…stress free. For me and my family, it is very important that we enjoy ourselves when we go to a party. So we are very careful about our food choices. Here are some tips on what you can do to make going to a party fun and not something you will dread or ‘pay for’ by eating the wrong foods for your body.
Tips for going to a Party or Gathering:
1. Eat a nice meal before you go. Tell the hostess that you are not hungry, but you appreciate the invitation and will eat something later.
2. Bring your own food to supplement the meal. This works really well when I am with my kids. If I know that I have at least brought them some food that I know is safe, I do not worry or stress if there is nothing there for them to eat.
3. If it is a potluck, you are in luck, because you can simply bring a gluten free meal that you know is safe for you to eat, and skip the other foods if you are unsure.
4. If it is not necessarily a potluck, offer to bring a meal anyway. It is a nice gesture, and then again, you are sure to have something that you can eat that is safe.
5. Beware of alcoholic beverages. These can be laden with gluten as well. Furthermore, an increased consumption may skew your judgment, forcing you to eat something that maybe you shouldn’t.
6. If you are unsure about a food item that is tempting your taste buds, there are a couple things you can do. You do NOT want to just ‘try it’ and take a chance. You can politely ask the hostess what is in the dish or you can simply ask her for the recipe and make it at your home another time.
7. Luckily, most of our friends and family know about our food allergies. And I truly appreciate all the effort that they make to accommodate our needs. So be gracious when a hostess does go out of their way to make you a special dish to accommodate your food allergies.
8. Do not expect hosts, family or friends to accommodate your allergies. First of all, gluten free is very foreign to some people, and they may or may not know what to look for in the ingredients. Second of all, it is really not their responsibility to accommodate you. I always expect nothing to be at a party that I can eat, in hopes to become pleasantly surprised if there is!
9. If you are uncomfortable discussing your food allergies, Tips #1 and #2 work best. Sooner or later word will get out that you do have special dietary restrictions and people will understand that you have to do what you do to take care of yourself.
Ultimately, that is the bottom line….taking care of yourself. I can’t count how many times I ate a meal just to be polite, knowing it might make me feel sick the rest of the night. At the time, I did not know it was the gluten that was making me sick, but I knew that baked goods in particular, would send me into wretching pain for the rest of the night. That is no way to spend an evening. So when you are invited to a party, think about what you can do to take care of yourself and allow yourself to enjoy the company that you are in. Here is a great meal that you can take to a party that is easy and can satisfy any taste buds.
2 cups shredded Turkey
7 oz diced tomatoes
15 oz black beans
½ cups of salsa
¾ cup shredded Colby jack and Monterey jack rice cheeses
3 scallions sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
12 white corn tortillas
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly coat 9 X 13 baking dish.
Stir together turkey, tomatoes with juices, beans, ½ cup salsa, ½ cup cheese, scallions, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper.
Heat up tortillas for 20 seconds per side in a hot skillet coated with olive oil.
Spoon about 2/3 cup into each hot tortilla. Place seam side down into baking dish.
Recipe for Red Enchilada Sauce:
1 cup chopped onions, sautéed for 7 minutes
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon cumin
Simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Pour over tortillas. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.