Tips and Recipes for Deliciously Safe ‘Free Of’ Holidays

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Enjoy Life Foods RecipesSCHILLER PARK, IL, November 29, 2007 – If you’re not among the three million Americans with Celiac Disease, or the more than 30 million who suffer from food allergies or intolerances, odds are you’ll celebrate the holidays with someone who is.  Enjoy Life Foods, the country’s leading allergy-friendly and gluten-free food company, collaborates this holiday season with Shauna James Ahern — author of a popular blog and a new book, both titled Gluten-Free Girl – to offer some practical tips and recipes for celebrating a delicious and safe “free of” holiday season.

“With Shauna’s help, we’ve come up with some great tips for celebrating the holidays with special diets in mind,” says Scott Mandell, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Enjoy Life Foods. “We’re dedicated to providing allergy-friendly and gluten-free foods that most everyone can enjoy all year long,” he says. “However, this holiday season, we’ve developed some great recipes featuring our Enjoy Life products that taste even better than their traditional counterparts,” he adds (see recipes attached).

“No matter how good a pumpkin pie recipe with a gluten-free crust, it will never taste like the pie you ate as a child.  It might taste even better.  But it won't taste the same,” Ahern says in her new book, gluten-free girl.

Ahern and Enjoy Life Foods offer the following guidelines for both entertaining people with dietary restrictions and for celebrating safely if you follow a “free of” diet yourself:

If you’re entertaining people with dietary restrictions…

  • RSVP, Please.  If you’re hosting a holiday celebration, chances are someone you’re inviting will have special dietary needs.  Simply include a note in your invitation requesting "Please RSVP with any dietary restrictions." Or, if you call with an informal invitation, simply say, "I haven't set the menu yet; remind me, is there anything you're not eating?"  Special dieters will be relieved to have the opportunity — no one likes to offend their host by not eating the food that is served.
  • Label foods that are “free of.”  Plan a buffet and clearly label dishes that are “free of” problem ingredients so your guests immediately know which foods are safe for them to eat.
  • Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free and/or allergy-friendly.  Do your homework and discover all the foods you can offer that are naturally “free of.”  You’ll be surprised how many favorite dishes are perfectly acceptable to serve your guests.  Some may just need slight adjustments such as substituting olive oil for butter in your mashed potatoes.
  • Learn about cross-contamination.   Learn about the dangers of cross-contamination and cook with a new sensitivity.  Ask your “free of” guests to teach you how to cook safely so that they can enjoy your meal without worry.
  • Mix up traditions, new and old. Don’t insist on creating “free of” versions of all your traditional holiday dishes. Try new foods and feast on what feeds us.  Who says that the meal must include roasted turkey with bread stuffing?  Why not curried carrot soup? Black cod? Roasted duck? Seared tofu? 

If you follow a “free of” diet…

  • Offer to host the holiday. If you’re the one with Celiac Disease or food allergies, and your friends and family simply don’t understand, offer to host the holiday yourself.  It might feel like a lot of work, but it will make everyone in the family happy, and you will be assured of eating delicious and safe foods.
  • Find a way out, if your family won't help. Hopefully, your family will choose you over traditional Beef Wellington. However, if you encounter difficulties, host your own holiday celebration. Gather all your most supportive friends — the family you chose — and cook a huge “free of” meal together. Hopefully your family will celebrate with you next year.
  • Allow your sorrow.  You may be mourning the loss of traditional dishes at the holidays and, at times, feel left out of the celebration.  That’s part of the process.  Feel it, and then remember that eating healthy is so much bigger than your grandmother's lasagna. 
  • Just say no to foods that aren’t “free of.” 'Tis the season when people are tempted to cheat.  That spoonful of stuffing just isn't worth three days of feeling sick.  Just one chocolate covered nut could send you straight to the emergency room.  Make a new tradition of staying well throughout the holidays. You owe it to yourself.
  • Remember, it’s not all about the food.  Try to remember that there is far more to the joy of the holiday season than food. Focus on the pleasures of being together with close family and friends instead.

Enjoy Life offers 21 delicious allergy-friendly and gluten-free products including soft-baked cookies, snack bars, granola, bagels, nut-free trail mixes and semi-sweet chocolate chips, all of which are made in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free bakery. Each product is free of the eight most common allergens*, certified gluten free (by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization), casein-free, all natural, trans fat-free and certified kosher.  All Enjoy Life products are vegetarian and many are also vegan.

About Enjoy Life Foods

Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC (d/b/a Enjoy Life Foods, LLC (ELF)) was founded in 2001 with the mission of making great-tasting allergy-friendly foods that most everyone can eat freely.  The company launched the Enjoy Life brand in 2002 with a broad product line that is free of the eight most common allergens* and gluten-free.  To meet the needs of a rapidly growing consumer base, in 2004 the company acquired Perky’s™ 100% Natural, a line of gluten- and nut-free cereals. Today, ELF offers 26 different Enjoy Life and Perky’s products that are sold in natural food and select grocery stores throughout the United States and Canada.  In September 2007, Enjoy Life Foods was named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately held businesses in the U.S. For more information, visit www.enjoylifenb.com.

Now for the Recipes…

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
(Free of wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. Options for dairy- and egg-free)

Enjoy Life Foods RecipesCrust:
1 box Enjoy Life® Double Chocolate Brownie cookies, processed into crumbs (1 ½ cups)
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp butter or dairy-free alternative*
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour/starch

Cheesecake:
Vanilla filling
 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese or dairy-free alternative**
1 egg or egg substitute***
 2 tsp vanilla
 1/2 cup sugar

Chocolate filling
 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese or dairy-free alternative**
 1 egg or egg substitute***
 1/2 cup sugar
 1/4 cup cocoa powder
 1 tsp vanilla
 1/4 cup Enjoy Life® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a 9” tart pan with removable bottom.
2. To prepare crust, mix cookie crumbs with brown rice flour, cocoa powder and tapioca flour.  With a fork, cut in butter until mixed well.  Press crumbs into bottom and on the sides.  Bake for 6 minutes to set the crust.
3. To prepare cheesecake, first make the vanilla filling: beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Next, make the chocolate filling: beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, cocoa powder and vanilla until smooth. Add chocolate chips for an even chocolatier flavor (optional). Spoon dollops of chocolate and vanilla filling over the baked crust. With a knife, gently swirl the dollops for a marbled appearance.
4. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Enjoy!
 
*  TIP  Dairy-free option: use ¼  cup plus 1 tbsp EarthBalance margarine (contains soy) or Spectrum shortening in place of butter.
** TIP Dairy-free option: use 1 (8 oz.) package of Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese (plain non-hydrogenated) (contains soy) in place of cream cheese.
***TIP Egg-free option: for best results, use Ener-G’s egg replacer in place of eggs.  We found that flax/water egg substitute does not work well in this recipe.

 

Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie
(Free of wheat, gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. Options for dairy- and egg-free)

Enjoy Life Foods RecipesPie Crust:
1 box Enjoy Life® Gingerbread Spice cookies, processed into crumbs (1½ cups)
2 tbsp tapioca flour/starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp butter or dairy-free alternative*

Pie Filling:
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 eggs or egg substitute**
2 tbsp tapioca flour/starch
1/4 cup milk or non-dairy substitute***

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly spray a 9” pie plate.
2. To prepare the crust, mix processed cookies with tapioca flour and brown rice flour.  Cut in butter using a fork until mixed in.  Press mixture into a 9” pie plate.  Place pie plate on baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes to set the crust.
3. Reset oven to 425°F.
4. To prepare filling, combine tapioca, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix pumpkin with milk and eggs.  Add the sugar mixture until blended.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Reduce temperature to 350°F, bake for another 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool completely.  Serve or refrigerate.  Enjoy!

*  TIP  Dairy-free option: use ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp EarthBalance margarine (contains soy) or Spectrum shortening in place of butter.
** TIP Egg-free option: for best results, substitute Ener-G egg replacer in place of the eggs. Consistency of the pie will vary from original recipe, resulting in more of a firm pudding.
***TIP Dairy-free option: use ¼ cup Rice Dream non-dairy beverage (Original) or WestSoy Soymilk (Unsweetened Original) (contains soy).

 

Hot Chocolaty Cocoa
(Free of: wheat, gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg and soy.)

Enjoy Life Foods Recipes1/4 cup Enjoy Life® semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp vanilla
12 oz. rice milk*

Microwave: Mix all ingredients. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Continue heating and stirring until boiling. Let cool to your desired temperature and enjoy.

Stovetop: Mix all ingredients. Stir constantly, heat over medium/low heat until boiling. Let cool to your desired temperature and enjoy.

*TIP To make this even creamier, use 8 oz. of rice milk and 4 oz. Silk Creamer (contains soy).

Yield: 2 6-oz. cups

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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