Navigating Allergies During the Holidays

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The holidays are such a fun time for kids! However, the festivities that come along this time of year can be cause of stress and disappointment for families with food allergies. The prevalence of food allergies among children is rising; the CDC reported a 50% increase from 1997-2011. Despite this, families with food allergies often feel alone and confused; especially around the holidays.


At GI for Kids, I see a lot of kiddos with TONS of food allergies. Both parents and children show up with lots of questions. “Which ones are most important to avoid?” “Do I have to eliminate all of them from my diet?” “It’s okay if I just have a little bit here and there, right?” The answers to these questions vary from situation to situation and are dependent on many factors. If you are struggling with food allergies, come see me and we can figure it out together!


This year, I want to provide you with some tips for managing food allergies throughout the holiday season.

  1. A lot can change in a year –Review ingredients and labels carefully as manufacturers may change ingredients at any time. You might be making something something during the holiday season that calls for ingredients you haven’t used in a while. Also, you can outgrow and acquire new allergies. For this reason, at GI for Kids, we recommend allergy testing on an annual basis.
  2. Holiday Parties – Kids’ Christmas parties typically include food centered activities such as cookie exchanges. While these may have long been a classroom staple, if your child has food allergies it’s okay to get creative and steer away from the food. Get involved with the class planning and suggest some other fun party ideas! Some of my favorites include games such as Pin the Heart on the Grinch or making homemade ornaments and wreaths. Crafts such as decorating gingerbread houses may not seem to pose a risk; however, for kids with sensitive allergies or Celiac Disease, even accidentally ingesting a small amount of the allergen can cause a reaction. Encourage kids to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly clean desks and tables after crafts or games that involve food.
  3. Family and food allergies – If you have never dealt with food allergies before, it can be easy to underestimate the time and planning that goes into preparing meals for those with severe or many food allergies. Reading labels and understanding which foods contain the allergen(s) can be confusing. Extended family members, especially those who may only spend time with your child during the holidays, may be unaware or uneducated about your child’s allergy. Be sure to educate everyone in the family regarding your child’s needs, especially if children are too young to advocate for themselves. In the case where you are unsure if the meal contains foods to which your child is allergic, it may be a good idea to have a back up meal planned.


As I mentioned, parents come to see me with a lot of questions. Maybe the one I hear most often – “Do you have a list of recipes I can take home? I have no idea what to feed my kid!”. With the holidays here, I wanted to provide you with some allergy friendly recipes you can use this year for classroom parties or family gatherings. The following recipes found in Allergic Living Magazine are free of the top 8 allergens and are gluten free.

Easy Drop Cookies


Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup (136 grams / 4.8 oz) sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 g / 1 oz) millet flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 g / 1 oz) tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread such as Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free milk beverage
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Click here for instructions


Glazed Sugar Cookies



  • 1 cup (250 mL) softened dairy-free, soy-free margarine, (such as Earth Balance sticks)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) organic cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp canned unsweetened coconut (or other dairy-free) milk beverage
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (535 mL) Cat’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt


  • 1 cup (250 mL) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp canned unsweetened coconut milk (or other dairy-free) milk beverage
  • Gluten-free natural food coloring (I used India Tree)

Click here for instructions


The following recipes can be found in the Winter 2019 recipe of Allergic Living Magazine.


Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin


  • 3 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp pink peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 2 bulbs fennel, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups allergen friendly beef broth
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cold water

Green Beans with Crispy Shallots


  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water, plus additional for cooking beans
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp salt, divided, plus additional to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread
  • 2 tsp minced fresh chives
  • 1 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 3/4 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 3/4 cup canola oil


Gluten-free Dinner Rolls


  • 1 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose gluten-free flour blend, divided
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sparkling water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread, melted
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes


Garlicky Sweet Potato and Kale Mash


  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, halved and quartered
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup allergy-friendly, vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 leek,white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg



Click here for more allergy friendly recipes on our website





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