Well, it’s getting to be that time of year again. The leaves are falling; the temperature is falling. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are in the stores- I think I may have even spotted a few Valentine Hearts in Walmart today! Not really, but you wouldn’t be surprised, would you? We are a holiday-loving bunch here in the United States. Think about it- we even make up holidays! Did you know that today is “No Beard Day”? Not too long ago, it was “World Egg Day” and “National Dessert Day.” Saturday was “Sweetest Day” and Monday was “Boss’s Day.” Yes, we love us some holidays!
Of course, not all holidays are celebrated as well as others. I mean, you don’t see items out in Walmart four months early for “National Pickle Day.” But we love Halloween, we love the days off and the shopping associated with Thanksgiving (Don’t get me started on that one! I’m a Thanksgiving baby, and I used to get livid when I saw the Christmas trees out, but NO turkeys! I’m kinda lukewarm about it now- I’ve mellowed in my age…) and we most certainly love Christmas! Holidays mean family and food. And of course, that’s where my world goes sideways…
When I found out about my food allergies, I bounced from doctor to doctor to try to get things figured out. I ended up at Integrative Health Specialists in Carmel. They did a bunch of tests and determined that my whole system was so out of whack that I was reacting to something like 70 different foods. This wasn’t a true allergic reaction, but it mimicked one because of the “Leaky Gut Syndrome” I had acquired. Basically, my gut was so out of sorts that it was letting all sorts of stuff into my blood stream. This would, in turn, cause my system to attack them- mimicking an allergic reaction. The way to fix it was to avoid all the reactive foods for 6 months. I got this news in October 2010. Do the math and you realize that meant that I was avoiding the foods through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
I did not do very well with this. I got very cranky. VERY cranky. But I followed through with it (for about 4 months- it was all I could take!) and I did feel better for doing it. But it really pointed out to me how much we associate the ritual of food with holidays. My in-laws traditionally have Caesar salad for Christmas Eve. Real eggs, real cheese, really huge croutons. Really off limits now. My Grandma has had to switch her butter out with my vegan substitute, and no longer has a reason to make me pickled eggs. My Mom’s sugar cream pie is non-existent to me now. Now, I look forward to scrutinizing everything people make and asking for specific ingredients. And I hate to do that, because if they think they have made it “Val-safe” but missed even one little ingredient, I can’t eat it. I feel like I’m rejecting people and they feel like their efforts were for naught. You don’t realize how personal cooking is to people until you have to repeatedly turn the items that they have slaved over down.
But, you do what you have to do. Some things, like my Mom’s aforementioned sugar CREAM pie, is forever dead to me. But other things I have found ways around. A great example of this is the Caesar salad. I figured out that the dressing could be made without any ingredients that I can’t have and it is suitable. Is it as good as the original? No, no, no. But I get to go through the ritual of eating it with everyone else- and that helps. Another is my favorite- pumpkin pie. I’ve found a few recipes that are workable, and I’m trying to figure out how to fix the issues that I have with the ones that I have found. When I do, I’ll be sure to share. Until then, here is a link to the recipe that I use now: Gluten Free Goddess Vegan Pumpkin Pie
The other thing that has made my holiday season is Soy Egg Nog! It’s made by Silk, but doesn’t have the sliminess that I think their soy milk has. It has no egg, no dairy and I think it tastes like true nog. Ahhh, happiness in a glass!
So, if I see you at the holiday table and I don’t eat your food, please don’t be hurt. Trust me, I’d LOVE to eat it! Instead, I’m happy to share my pie, or my nog with you. I’m also just as happy to watch you eat the real thing. I won’t be jealous much, I promise! (Did you know it is National Cross Your Fingers When You Lie Day? ;)