There are many ways to keep your gluten-free child safe and teach valuable cooking skills this holiday season.
By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer of Kitchen Classroom 4 Kids
The weather is getting colder, neighborhoods are lit up with colored lights and the holiday party season is beginning. For families who have children who are gluten-free, December is a month that can mean navigating eating challenges at family gatherings and school celebrations. But it is also a month of opportunity—a time when parents can bring their children into the kitchen to cook and bake gluten-free goodies that are special for the holidays.
Join Gabrielle for a free Gluten-Free Holiday Cooking webinar on Friday, December 9th.
Sharing Family Traditions
Our contemporary lives are so busy and over-scheduled that we parents can overlook the importance of slowing down and making time to just connect with our kids. Making time to cook or bake together allows parents and children the chance to do something fun together and to make delicious food that everyone in the family can enjoy. For children who need to eat special diets, cooking is also an important way of giving them tools to feel like they have a sense of taking control of what they are eating. In my house, bringing my children into the cooking and baking process means that they are generally more open to trying new foods they had a part in creating.
Make time on a weekend afternoon this month to cook or bake some of your favorite holiday recipes. If your favorites are non gluten-free, look at possible ways to adapt the recipe. For example, in my home, we love to make potato latkes for Hanukkah, but most recipes call for a small amount of flour in the latkes. I have substituted rice flour with fantastic results (my favorite recipe for sweet potato latkes is in my children’s cookbook, The Kitchen Classroom.) As you cook with your children, share memories of family members and your holiday celebrations when you were a child. They are now a link in your family chain, carrying healthy new recipes into the future.
Another wonderful way to connect your children to the holidays is to cook or bake gifts for teachers, therapists, dentists/doctors, neighbors and friends. One of my favorite recipes is for candied nuts that people always rave about! My children help me make our giant batch of nuts each year and pack them up into tins to give out at the holidays. We have created a new tradition and always have fun making and packing the candied nuts.
There are lots of holiday favorites that are gluten-free or easy to adapt: brandied fruits, cookies in a jar, favorite sauces. Start a family tradition and create a gift that you and your kids will have fun preparing—and that family and friends will look forward to receiving!
December is full of festive events—and that can mean extra occasions when you need to plan ahead to make sure that there will be food that your child can enjoy. In some cases, that means making special treats to bring along when you are a guest or to send along with your child for a school activity or celebration.
More and more people are becoming tuned into people who need to eat gluten-free, and you should feel free to have a conversation with any host in advance of the party about your child’s needs—he/she may be very happy to provide gluten-free snacks, desserts, etc.
Consider hosting a small gathering or family meal at your home that you and your children can cook and bake for so your child has an opportunity to experience eating everything he/she chooses!
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is the author of The Kitchen Classroom . She teaches workshops and offers consulting/coaching packages for parents about healthy gluten-free cooking with kids. You can reach her at www.kitchenclassroom4kids.com.