So you're flying to Nebraska to visit grandma for the holidays and your little Susie can't eat gluten or eggs. Yikes. Here are some tried and true tips to keep Susie healthy and prevent grandma from getting annoyed.

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

I always pack an extra bag or two of food. If it's only Thanksgiving day, pack as if you're going on a road trip. Have your child pack her own bag. It will teach her to be proactive about her food allergy. Make sure you have a lot of protein and natural sugars in there; think trail mix, peanuts and raisins. These types of foods last a long time and kill hunger cravings if the food at your destination is all allergy-inducing.

Pre-Pack Your Child's Favorite Meal

I don't mean McDonald's. If you child has a favorite dinner, that will suffice. Mashed potatoes with sour cream, or corn on the cob, or vegan meatloaf...you get the idea. Whatever she likes that is also appropriate for Thanksgiving dinner. If you're flying in somewhere, don't carry-on a casserole. Just let grandma know ahead of time that you'll need to use her oven at some point, and get the fixings at a grocery store when you get to town.  There are a lot of allergy-friendly Thanksgiving meals you can research.

Explain Before You Go

Speaking of grandma, it's polite to let her know ahead of time, if she doesn't already, about your child's allergy. Be patient and sweet, but be firm. A food allergy is not a food preference no matter what grandma may say. Your child is not a picky eater; her body reacts when she eats certain foods. Break it down as simply as possible, but try to avoid WWIII. If she doesn't understand, just move on, change the subject, and tell grandma how much you can't wait to see her...all the while stuffing more trail mix and applesauce muffins into your daughter's bag.

Bring Your Own Desserts

Everyone loves dessert. And most food allergies can be camouflaged in desserts better than normal dishes. Just substitute:

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal and 3 tablespoons water for every egg in a recipe
  • gluten free flour and xanthan gum for regular flour
  • rice milk for regular milk
  • applesauce and oil for butter
  • chopped prunes for chocolate chips
  • honey for sugar

So bring some gluten-free, egg-free pumpkin cookies and shock grandma with how good they are. (Recipe below!)  Or you can bring a gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie that will knock her socks off!

Teach Your Child to Be Gracious

Use this opportunity to teach her how to be a guest at someone's home. Tell her how it's important to always bring something, to be thankful, and to help out as much as she can. Have her offer to wash dishes after the meal to show her gratitude. This is, after all, the season to show thanks.

Gluten-Free/Egg-Free Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup masa flour (or sorghum flour)
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1½ t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t baking powder (gluten-free kind)
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 cup melted butter (or dairy-free margarine)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin
  • 2 T flaxseed meal
  • 6 T water
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 (12 oz) packages chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet.

Mix cornstarch, rice flour, masa flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, flaxseed meal, water and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes. Move to wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

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