I posted this in my corn allergy group last night and have been amazed at the responses it’s getting.
Thanksgiving strike... Sort of. Was talking with my dh tonight about starting a new tradition next year of not getting into all the food of T-day. Not to be misconstrued with not being thankful. More of a let's cook extra for a couple weeks before to freeze and just be able to pull out, nuke & eat. I mean, we all slave away in the kitchen every damn day. We deserve a break. This all started playing out in my head standing in line at WF (Whole Foods) with a chatty bagger. When she asked about our plans, I said we might be postponing until Friday and didn't elaborate. So she asked if we were waiting for family to arrive. I said no & she looked so confused at me that I had to throw her a bone. The person behind us was almost ready to pay, so I just said we cook from scratch every day & my dh wants a day off work before he has to help out (meaning be the head cook). Her confused look didn't improve at all, but got my mind going. Anyway, the first name that pops to mind to name this is Un-thanksgiving. But that's not at all fitting (so we’ll go with a Deconstructed Thanksgiving). Anyone else feel like not living in the kitchen for turkey day?
We scratch cook every day. So spending a day in the kitchen making a feast isn’t a special occasion here. It makes it just like any other day. Food is always on my mind.
Holidays with corn allergies are generally a nightmare. We have multiple allergies, but corn is by far the hardest to avoid. And no, it’s not as simple as just not eating corn on the cob or popcorn. It also includes corn derivatives. Corn is in just about everything in some form. And I literally mean almost everything. Being corn-free is an ongoing quest that constantly changes at the whim of companies and is nearly impossible to actually attain 100% corn-freeness. We do the best we can to avoid as much as we can & hope we have suitable recovery options when we do inevitably get corned.
Our online group is always active, but you’d be floored to see the spike in posts during the holidays. The collective stress level is mind-boggling and even more disheartening to hear how many are put in a position to defend the safety of the allergic(s) in the family to other family members. For many families, the amount of angst caused by loved ones is appalling. Many end up being faced with the very real choice of declining get-togethers because those in attendance either don’t understand or don’t want to adjust their traditions. And it’s not a decision that’s made lightly by any.
I don’t think someone that isn’t corn allergic can ever truly fully comprehend what we go through to keep ourselves or others (like my kiddos) safe and healthy every day. We are fortunate that my family & in-laws provide support & try to understand.
The amount of prep, time & energy that goes into meal planning increases at least tenfold. Sourcing out safe foods is time consuming & part of our regular routine. Something as simple as switching brands can be a huge deal and not taken lightly. For example, Holly’s ONLY safe meat at the moment is local turkey. We are very fortunate that we can get it year-round. Most people can’t. I bought a whole turkey for us for today… well, tomorrow. Holly can’t eat this turkey, though because we don’t know if she’ll tolerate it. So, I bought her a drumstick of the type we know is safe.
Could we trial the whole turkey with her? Yes, we could. But why fix it, if it ain’t broke? Why take the very real chance of dealing with a symptomatic child should a reaction occur after we’ve used more energy than we have making a “special” meal? And symptoms/reactions can take days to clear out.
Plus, she’s got safe turkey. If I’m going to spend my time with introducing a new food, I’d rather expand with something that could be a new staple on her menu. Say maybe a 2nd safe veggie, not broadening her turkey choices.
Then add in that Hubs is dairy free. Ivan was for awhile to rule out dairy allergy & just recently has added back in local goat milk & cow milk from a specific farm. Holly can do the goat milk. Coconut worked well as a dairy replacement so that we could make one loaf of bread, batch of muffins or whatnot to be safe for all of us. Or so we thought until I started having anaphylactic reactions to the coconut.
Let that sink in… I’ll say that again. Anaphylactic to coconut. Bye-bye coconut, which had become a staple. So all the recipes we crafted with it now need to be tweaked again.
So, we live FOOD. Eat, breathe, sleep FOOD. Life as we know it revolves around our food choices for every meal, snack, recipe, shopping and even cleaning products (that’s another story).
That means that trying to find safe traditional holiday foods is extremely challenging when factoring in multiple allergies. Trying to find replacements for foods takes time, energy and top-notch sleuthing skills. Then trying to fit what you find into the holiday mold is much like the square peg in round hole dilemma. Sometimes with much manipulation and/or skill, you can pull off something that is edible and if you’re lucky all the spiked eggnog (assuming no dairy allergy) hasn’t disappeared in the blink of an eye!
And yet as challenging as FOOD is for us, we don’t shy away from the food-centered holidays as much. It’s just not the same special occasion it used to be. In attempts to save our sanity, we are in the process of creating new non-food traditions for the holidays that we celebrate. It’s a paradigm shift & one we need to take the pressure off. And not feel guilty saying that. We allergics simply need a no-kitchen day. Maybe that’s what we need to declare. A Kitchen Free Day holiday; we’ll call it Deconstructed Thanksgiving.
So to all the food allergics out there, won’t you join me in creating our own Kitchen-Free Day? Take the day off from that room. Take time to celebrate all that you do EVERY day to keep yourself and/or someone else healthy & safe. Take time for YOU. And try not to let FOOD rule one day. YOU DESERVE IT!
From our scratch kitchen to yours - HAPPY DECONSTRUCTED THANKSGIVING!