The Vegetarian & Food Allergy Guide to Surviving Holiday Meals.

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holiday meal survival guide 

For many people, a big part of celebrating this time of year centers on food.

But if you are vegetarian, vegan or have food allergies, sometimes the food-centered activities are not so fun.

Listen to this recent Green Divas Health & Beauty segment—I shared strategies for keeping healthy through the busy and fun holiday season. Then read on for more details…

Here are a few tips along with a favorite recipe of mine…

Bring something that you can eat to share.

This is a great opportunity to let people know that being vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free doesn’t equal “weird” or gross food. I’ve often found that people are surprised that something is vegan or gluten-free, since they associate those terms with something bland or just plain vegetables. It can lead to some great conversations, but…

Don’t make a big fuss or speech about what you can and cannot eat at the meal.

It’s rude. It’s annoying when people are doing it because they are doing Atkins or whatever diet-of-the-month, and it’s also annoying when you are proselytizing about your way of eating. Skip it. As a general rule, I don’t tell other people what choices they should make—it’s hard enough to figure out my own!

If they aren’t already aware, talk to your hosts ahead of time.

If the hosts are close friends or family members, they probably already know what your needs are. If they don’t, the polite thing to do is to call at least a week ahead of time and let them know, while also offering to bring a dish or two. This is also a great time to check in and make sure there isn’t anything you should avoid bringing, for health reasons or cultural beliefs.

If you aren’t sure what’s in something, ask!

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac, I didn’t want to make a big fuss or put anyone out. If something seemed like it would be gluten-free and I was at someone else’s house, I would often risk it. I would also often be sick for the next few days. The last thing your hosts want is for you to be ill because of what you ate at their party. You can be discrete about it, but ask or skip questionable items rather than spending your holidays feeling ill.

Say “thank you” for any and all efforts made by your hosts to accommodate you.

This should be a given for all guests, regardless of dietary restrictions, but we often forget to show our gratitude. Go old-school about it and send an actual snail mail thank you card the next day.

One of my favorite things to make and bring along? Gluten-free vegan gingerbread!

Although I am not completely vegan, I like to make at least some of my Christmas baked goods vegan so that I know friends who are (or those who have dairy or egg allergies) can enjoy them too.

Vegan Gingerbread Elephants
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  1. 1 cup brown rice flour
  2. 1 cup tapioca starch/flour
  3. 1/2 cup potato flour (if you don’t need this to be GF, you can just use 2 ½ cups of whatever flour you like)
  4. 1/2 cup potato flour (if you don’t need this to be GF, you can just use 2 ½ cups of whatever flour you like)
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum (if making gluten free)
  6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  9. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  10. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  11. a little cayenne—a dash or so
  12. a little orange or Clementine zest
  13. 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  14. 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  15. 1 cup light brown sugar
  16. 4 tablespoons almond milk (or rice milk if making for nut-free eaters)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the flours and spices in a bowl and set aside. Blend the sugar and margarine (I like Earth Balance’s new coconut oil based margarine but am looking for a palm oil-free alternative) and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Add the “milk” one tablespoon at a time. You might not need all of it…kind of depends on humidity.
  3. The final product will be sticky/crumbly. Make it into a big ball, flatten out a bit and refrigerate for at least an hour. When you are ready to roll it out, the best way to go is to use parchment paper to bake on and roll out the dough on the paper (use cutter and pull away excess) rather than trying to move the cookies.
  4. Bake at 350 F for about eight to nine minutes (depending on size and thickness of cookies).
  5. Enjoy!
  1. To avoid overly dry cookies, do not add extra flour before rolling. Instead, when the dough becomes too warm, return to the refrigerator until it firms up a bit. I usually have two portions going and alternate refrigerating them as they become too warm or sticky.
The Green Divas

(Adapted from an earlier article on elephant journal) images via


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About the author / 

Green Diva Kate'

Kate Bartolotta is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal and The Good Men Project. She is determined to change the world—one blog at a time. Connect with Kate on Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

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