3 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with Food Restrictions

Happy Saturday!

I keep checking the calendar, yall. How can it already be Thanksgiving week? I am so excited though, I LOVE Thanksgiving. For many reasons, but one of them, THE FOOD!

See this post (HERE) where I cooked an ENTIRE spread (turkey with fixings) our first Thanksgiving as Mr. and Mrs. Stokes. Yes, I will never forget shopping and buying that BIG turkey for just us two. And getting the fine china out, yall, I went for it. Printed menus and all. HA!

As you all know, I had to cut gluten out years ago (Jan. 2013 to be exact). This led me to the paleo way of eating. At the beginning, family get togethers and just eating outside of my kitchen stressed me out. When you realize what makes you feel bad, you obviously do everything possible to not feel that way again. Hence the reason why it doesn’t bother me a bit when someone eats gluten in front of me! And as much as you want to trust that label that says “gluten free” or that sweet relative that says it should be gluten free, it is hard to do that!

So what do you do?

Now that I have a fews years behind me of navigating these gatherings, I feel more confident going into these situations. Honestly, I love sharing food with friends and family! And if you don’t know that at this point, now you know that about me 🙂 Something about the “cookin” part in the blog title might have clued ya in 😉

So if this is your first holiday with medical or self-chosen restrictions, I wanted to share a few things that help me navigate this time of year. But remember this, at the end of the day the time spent TOGETHER is more important than the food. I am sure southerns are gasping that I even typed that. But is the truth. Important events seem to organize around food, but it can’t be the only focus.

3 tips to navigate gatherings with food restrictions:

  1. Ask to bring something! This takes the pressure off the hostess/family member and gives you confidence that you will have something to can eat. I do try and select items that, if needed, could standalone (maybe with a salad or something) if I can’t eat other items. Most gatherings have a fruit/veggie tray, so get creative along the lines of protein.
  2. Take responsibility. Ha. But really, if you have that ONE item that you truly can’t imagine Thanksgiving without, MAKE IT! Take it on yourself to find a recipe and go for it. It will be fun! And if it is a flop, oh well. Most real food based items might not turn out visually, but taste-wise, should be easy to hit the mark.
  3. No one is judging you or thinking it is “silly” to have food restrictions. Remember, everyone just wants you to feel good. Grandma might say something like “why can’t you eat THIS food” but don’t let it bother you. She is TRULY wanting to know why. Have a quick and simple answer ready to go for that curious uncle or cousin.

We have made the decision to keep Tripp gluten-free as long as possible. With my background, it is just the best thing to do for our family. And have y’all ever tried to TRY all the real foods out there? I have never thought about that until Tripp! I mean he is not deprived in the least and I bet he hasn’t even tried half the foods out there. And I am so glad there are improvements in healthier options at the stores. No, I am not making everything that he eats. Crackers, chips, and fruits are a few of his favorite things!

This is really his first Thanksgiving to really be INTO food. Last year, he LOVED the turkey though! I want him to try dressing/stuffing this year though. So I have chosen a few things to bring with me to our family gathering that I know he can grab and enjoy and that I can dig into as well.

What am I bringing to Thanksgiving?

  1. Stuffing–> Tripp loves the paleo bread and bagels from Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro, so I am grabbing a loaf of bread and throwing (think side dish size) some together. I am doing a mix between the recipe in Celebrations (HERE) and Predominately Paleo’s recipe (HERE). But I am totally tempted to do the pumpkin version from Paleo Running Mama (HERE).
  2. Roasted veggies–> Tripp LOVES roasted veggies and BACON. So this recipe from The Paleo Running Mama will be a hit.
  3. Pie–> We need a dessert and a festive one! He has been digging pumpkin in his oatmeal, so I think he will like a slice of pumpkin pie. I am taking a short-cut here and grabbing one from Mason Dixon.

We will have turkey there and some gluten-free options at the family table. But knowing that Tripp and I can have some stuffing and veggies with our turkey then dig into a slice of pie has me PUMPED! Both of our families are conscious of my food restrictions and the choices we have made for Tripp. Which just makes it so much easier entering this time of year!

Is this your first season with a food restriction? What are your tips? What are your worries?

Just remember… don’t STRESS! Stress won’t even let you digest your “go-to” foods properly.

Sausage + kale + potatoes

Happy Wednesday!!

See the title? I say that equals a winning trio! It is around my house anyways 🙂

Speaking of house. Oh Leo… always watching so closely in case we need help with our snacks. Haha! Pretty handsome duo, I must say. Robot (Tripp LOVES them) pjs from Hanna. A favorite around here and my sister’s.

Y’all, that “fort” that Tripp is in (not for this purpose, but hey using that imagination ha!) is so cool. We got it for him last year for Christmas. Here is the link–> Etsy find. I’m in no way affiliated to this shop, just loved this gift. All breaks down and stores so well. It has been anything from a barn to a fort to a “cabin” for him to get in. Maybe I’ll do a gift guide before Black Friday… we shall see!

So this is one of THOSE meal ideas that I feel kind of silly sharing. It’s SO easy. And versatile. But sometimes those are the best to share. I am charging up my “big girl” camera as we speak and hope to shoot with it more. But please enjoy these “amazing” phone pictures (with those fancy Insta filters) in the meantime ha 😉

Sausage, Kale, and Potatoes

  • 1 pack of sausage (I used Aidells chicken and apple), sliced into bite-sized bits
  • A big handful of kale, chopped (around 6 BIG leaves, stems and all)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (previously cut, roasted, and was ready to throw in at the end to warm)
  • 1/4 bone broth (for deglazing purposes)

See. Told you it was basic 🙂 Here was my method:

  1. Melt butter in the skillet or pot (you do need a top though) over medium- low heat. And throw in your sausage pieces.
  2. Stir them around until you can see them starting to brown. Remember these are already cooked, I am just adding some flavor by “browning” them in some butter.
  3. Throw in your kale. Might take two batches! Stir around until it starts to green up. Pour in your broth. STIR up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan and put the lid on… turn down to medium or a little under.
  4. As soon as the kale is done to your liking (took mine around 10 minutes), throw in your sweet potatoes and stir until they are warm.
  5. SERVE! Over rice… with avocado… or with gluten-free cornbread (LOVE Bob’s Red Mill,usually at Publix). Or hey, just the trio! It can standalone on your plate nicely.

I hope any of you that were interested in the Thrive Life foods I have been sharing, attended my FB party! They actually just released the Black Friday deals, and, WOW!! Nothing like read food that won’t spoil being on sale 🙂 Check it out HERE or comment below for more information. Happy to share!

And just a little shout-out… my sister (The Healthy Homestead Mama) officially started contributing over at Health Starts in the Kitchen (long time blog fan here!!). So proud. Go check the first post out HERE.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!!