Healthy Holidays: Managing Food Allergies

standard December 8, 2017 Leave a response

Hosting a large group of people, some of which have very different, and very specific food limitations? Or maybe you have a food allergy, and attending large gatherings and meals is intimidating when others do not understand the nature of the allergy or restriction. Here are a few tips for both sides to navigate and enjoy this season with ease.

Host: Label allergy-friendly foods.

As the host, whether you are making the whole meal or asking guests to potluck, have labels handy for the items that your guests with food allergies can eat. Always make sure to check that the dish is indeed free of the specific allergen, especially if someone else made it.

Guest: Bring a dish.

If you know your host and family will not be able to easily accommodate your allergy, or you are unsure of the offerings available to you, offer to bring a dish. Make it something hearty enough that you can enjoy that one item as your main meal if no other options are present. And while it should be something everyone can enjoy, it is okay to bring your favorite item.

Host: Pay attention to cross-contamination.

Some allergies are severe enough that using the same spatula or cooking surface, which leaves trace elements of foods behind, can be harmful and life-threatening to someone with a food allergy. It can be helpful to color code utensils or baking dishes to ensure that those items are only used on the safe foods being made and served.

Guest: Check In.

Not sure if your Aunt Celeste knows what gluten-free means and she offered to make you a gluten-free dessert? Check in with her before the event, and maybe suggest a few recipes, or get a feel for what she was planning on making. It can be hard to arrive somewhere and find out someone worked extra hard to make something you could enjoy, when in fact, it has an ingredient that isn’t safe. Be polite, but know it is okay to talk with family and friends in advance.

Navigating holiday events with children with food allergies? Make sure both the child and the guests are aware of the allergy. Family members may offer foods to a child without knowing it isn’t safe. Children may grab something that looks safe but has a hidden ingredient in it. Set rules and review them with everyone so that there is less of a chance of a problem.


Be Present: December

standard December 4, 2017 Leave a response

Happy December!! This month always has me a bit conflicted. I’m usually all ready to just jump into 2018 planning and goal setting and tend to forget or pass over the fact that December is a whole month of possibility if I stop and plan for it first. Yet at the same time I want to give myself a break and just let the month be a break and recharge before the upcoming year. I have a few big projects that are still in the works right now, so as a balance, I’m working towards finishing those and then doing a lot of resting and personal development-related goals.

November in Review:

1. Pick and sign up for Marathon #6.

Technically this is still up in the air. I signed up for a race as a charity runner and am waiting to hear if I got accepted. Once I know more, I’ll share the details!

2. Set up a new meal prep routine that works.

New meal prep routine is to do less. Yup, less. Less planning, less thinking, less work. And the work I do spend on it all happens on the weekend.

3. Network weekly to build brand awareness.

This has been so much fun! There are so many fun people on the internet, if you find the right space and invest a little bit of time.

4. Donate milk to Mother’s Milk Bank.

Done! So grateful to have the milk to share and to finally get it out of my freezer! 100+ ounces off to some sweet precious preemies.

5. Outsource and time manage better to maximize work days.

This is still a work in progress, but I am getting much better at it!

December Goals:

  1. Read 2 books.
  2. Start marathon training!!
  3. Launch Healthy Habits Action Plan
  4. Cross something off every day.
  5. Gear up for a great 2018 with Powersheets and business planning.

Let’s finish this year out strong, friends! Happy Holidays!


Simplify: Thanksgiving

standard November 20, 2017 Leave a response

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a big production of food, football, family gathering, laughter, fights, and lots of pie. It can be an easygoing, laid back affair or it can be a stressful nonstop event. My memories of Thanksgiving growing up involved family vacation, since my family didn’t see the point of cooking a huge meal for just four people. I look back on those trips and see all the fun, all the experiences, and none of the stress (though I know some was probably involved for my parents in taking a vacation anywhere with kids).

Once I grew up and was making my own decisions about where to go for Thanksgiving, would we host, would we cook, where would we go, it started to get a lot more stressful. Then I switched to a plant-based diet, and things got even more complicated. I started making big productions myself, full of vegan dishes I was determined everyone would love. Family came, friends came, everyone helped out. It was fun and fairly low key (except for my cooking madness). But over the years, I started feeling like I had to keep topping each year’s menu and activities and things easily got big and stressful. FOR NO REASON. It was all in my head.

This year, I decided to go back to the basics. The menu is getting shrunk. The visitors are increasing. The activities are staying the same. Exactly as I want it to be.

Ready to get your Thanksgiving back and enjoy every minute without going crazy? Try these tips:

Cut the menu in half. Yes. Half. Take a look at each dish you traditionally make and ask yourself, “WHY do I make this?” Is it a food you love, that your family loves, that your one child loves and insists upon? Great. Keep it on the menu. However, if you find you are making something just because you’ve always made it, and no one will miss it, cross if off the list this year. There is no reason to make something people don’t care about that much. It just adds to your cooking list and provides extra time and stress.

Invite the people who matter.  We are all used to having family at holiday gatherings. But also think about those friends and coworkers and neighbors who might not have somewhere else to go and who have a big impact on your daily life. Yes, this is adding people to your day, and we’re trying to simplify here, not make things harder. But people can also bring food. Fill your table with the people that matter most to you. And give them a dish to bring to round out the meal without you having to do all the cooking.

Put guests to work. Have a friend or relative who always shows up early? Let them help! Even guests who aren’t as savvy in the kitchen can pop rolls in the oven or toss a salad together. Have someone stir cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, check on the pie, pour drinks, set the table. Even kids can get in on the prep work. And giving everyone a role to play will make guests feel more at home and included.

Make it fun. Thanksgiving isn’t about spending the day in the kitchen while your guests lounge around watching football. Add some fun activities everyone can participate in to your agenda for the day. Join in the annual Turkey Trot in the morning before coming home and cooking up your feast. Go out and play a round of tag or flag football. Have a family game night tradition after dinner. And make sure the host or hostess also participates! If you’ve cut recipes off your cooking list, asked people to bring food, and put guests to work, you have plenty of time to join in on the fun!

Looking for some menu and recipe inspiration? Check out these past holiday posts:

What are you doing this year to simplify Thanksgiving?