Celiac Holiday Prep & Giveaway Winner!

7:50:00 AM

WARNING: Outrageously Long Post Ahead!! (but it's worth it...)

Good morning, everyone!
Today is my Friday and I could not be more excited to celebrate Christmas with my family out in the burbs of Chicago; it's going to be a REAL good time!

Speaking of real, let's get real about food prep for those with severe allergies and/or auto-immune diseases. In short, it's a stressful undertaking. I constantly struggle between the main two options we have as victims of allergy/auto-immune disorders: 1. Let my family cook for me and cross my fingers OR 2. Prep all my food a day or two ahead of time by cooking for hours on end, freezing the results, and loading up a giant cooler.
It's a little daunting to even read. This is the real struggle when you travel for the holidays with an auto-immune disease, folks.

This past Thanksgiving was my first holiday experience with Celiac Disease and it was a learning curve for sure. I did a lot of research on how best to handle the situation, prepping food, etc. Although I had to set aside a full day to prepare for it, Thanksgiving was delicious and, most importantly, risk free. Knowing you can eat a large meal with loved ones without fear is something that is worth every minute of prep time.

So, in anticipation of the Christmas holiday season (or whichever holiday you celebrate this time of year), I give you my Thanksgiving prep for your reference. All of these recipes involve the use of an oven, so unless you are blessed with more than one, these will have to be done one after the other. This makes for a lot of down time between recipes. You can spend this time watching Christmas movies, drinking cocoa, wrapping presents... the possibilities of multi-tasking are endless!

Please note: besides the turkey, the other recipes are not mine. I will attach hyperlinks to each recipe name to lead you to the website I used for each dish. All photographs are mine.

1. Stuffed Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter

Turkey (I used a 14lb)
1 Stick Salted Butter
1 Tbsp. Herbs of your choice (dried or fresh)
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Red Apple of your choice
1 Sweet Onion
Tin Foil

First, take out your turkey and make sure it is completely thawed. Next, take out your stick of butter and have it sit out until it's room temperature. Using this conversion chart for reference, preheat your oven to the temp that best coincides with your turkey size. I used the "unstuffed" side as reference since we aren't using any starchy or absorbent stuffing in this recipe.

Once your have your butter at room temp, place it in a bowl and mix in your herbs. I used about 1 Tbsp. of dried mixed herbs consisting of rosemary and thyme. Chop up your garlic and add it to the herb butter. This can vary based on which flavors you like and how herb-y and garlic-y you want this turkey to be!

After your butter is all prepped, separate the skin of the turkey from the meat. As you can see in the above photo, the skin is slightly stuck to the meat, so you will need to stick your hand in to make a nice, large pocket between the skin and meat to place your butter into. Once you have gotten as much skin separated from the meat as you can, take your room temp herb butter and spread it through the pocket you created! Make sure to cover as much of the meat as you can.

Lastly, place the unpeeled onion and apple into the cavity of the turkey. I had to cut my apple and onion in half since the cavity of my turkey was rather small, but its preferred to fit the entire veggie and fruit in the cavity. This will keep delicious juices in your turkey and the meat will stay nice and moist during the roasting period. 

Place your prepped turkey in a large roasting pan. Tent tin foil over the turkey, but make sure not to have the tin foil touching the turkey. I do not baste my turkey or ever open the oven to look at it. Based on the conversion chart, when there is a half an hour left for the turkey to cook, I remove the tin foil and allow the skin to brown for the last 30 minutes of cook time.

And voila! You should have a beautiful, moist turkey and some awesome drippings to use for gravy, which you can make with cornstarch instead of flour and it thickens right up! YUM. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the glorious results, but I can tell you it was delicious, froze well, and thawed really nicely!

These were super simple and really great for Thanksgiving! No muss, no fuss. I usually crave mashed potatoes for the holiday season, but these were so flavorful and took much less effort. 

 This soup was a great addition to the meal, but unless you LOVE the flavors of cumin and coriander, it might not be for you. You have been warned... 

Make sure you don't make the mistake I did and use a blender instead of a food processor. You really want this soup to be as smooth as possible and a blender does not quite get that soup-like consistency. That being said, it was simple and delicious. You can make your own broth (recipe is in the link), but I used box broth to make the process a little less daunting.

Happy Discovery: Talenti Gelato plastic containers make freezing and traveling with food so so easy. The fact that the lids screw on instead of just covering or popping on makes such a difference! 
Just make sure to let the liquids freeze without a lid so it has room to expand. Add the lid after the contents have hardened up completely, otherwise you will have a busted container.

The onion/mushroom topping froze great along with the soup and transported SO well.

These bad boys kept me nice and full for breakfast! I was able to freeze them and just thaw them out once I got to my sister-in-law's house. It was nice to be able to share them as well! Always make extra so you can contribute to the weekend festivities while being safe.

And there you have it! I know this post is long and the idea of cooking an entire meal, freezing it, and traveling for the holidays is a lot to take in. Especially for first timers, the holiday season can become stressful and give you all kinds of anxiety that you didn't have before. 

Deep breaths. You can do this. It is worth it to know you won't be getting sick.
This way you can enjoy your holiday with family anxiety free!

Last, but most excitingly, I give you: our winner from last week's giveaway!

Congrats! I envy you - these cards are going to light up your 2016!
Send me a message on my Facebook page with your mailing info so I can get this out to you next week! 
You should have them just in time for the New Year.

Thanks for reading everyone!
Let me know how prep goes for you allergy friends - happy holidays!

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