Updated: Mar 12
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the kick off to the holiday season, the food, the football, the first round of family reunions.
Our Thanksgiving menu has taken a different turn since our boys were diagnosed with food allergies. Over the years, I have simplified the menu and established a routine that works for everyone. I do not spend the entire day in the kitchen, the food is safe for everyone, and we choose fun and ease over all else.
Here are my Thanksgiving tips (these really are true for any holiday!):
Tip #1: Keep it Simple
I just don’t see the need to make multiple versions of a million dishes. Instead, I choose food that is safe for my children. Of course, I make a variety of dishes, so everyone is having something they love. But I really simplify the menu, and my children feel included since we are all eating the same food.
Here was my menu this year:
Roasted Turkey Thighs -- my whole family prefers dark meat, so why bother with the whole bird?!
Roasted Veggies -- carrots, brussels sprouts, parsnips – truth, only adults ate that, but that’s cool!
Baked French Fries -- because they are my boys’ favorite and they deserve a treat!
Mashed Acorn Squash -- everyone loves!
French Bread from Izzi B’s Bakery -- this bakery is AMAZING! Check out their website here.
Spiced Apple Cake – this delish recipe is from The Food Allergy Mama's Easy, Fast Family Meals by Kelly Rudnicki. Our meal was completely Top 8 Free and delicious. Everyone gobbled it up, and I didn’t spend all day in the kitchen!
Tip #2: No New Foods Today
Holidays are just not the time to try a new food with your food-allergic kiddo. I personally am a control freak, so I need to cook all my boys’ food on a holiday. It allows me to relax and enjoy myself. Make sure to triple check every label and not serve anything your child hasn’t had before. No one wants an allergic reaction on Thanksgiving!
Tip #3: Don’t be Afraid to Start New Traditions
I think a lot of us what to provide a similar experience for our kids as we had growing up or as everyone around us is having. Sometimes that just makes me feel worse about our food allergy life than I need to. Therefore, I took this as a challenge and an opportunity to re-write what our holidays look like. We are a healthy-eating family, anyway, so why did we need all the CRAP!? We would prefer to get some exercise and play with our kids and drink champagne … so why spend ALL DAY in the kitchen!? Whatever YOU want to do with YOUR family … give yourself permission to DO IT! Thanksgiving should be a fun, safe day.
Speaking of new traditions, now that my boys are 7 and 9, they are old enough to practice gratitude (in addition to the nighttime routine of being thankful for something during the day). I think this is especially important when dealing with food allergies. It can be easy to only feel the negative, but your perspective turns around if you can spend some energy focusing on all the positives in your life. This year, we placed pretty gratitude note cards for each place setting at the table. During dinner, everyone wrote down what they were grateful for, and we shared our thoughts at the end. My boys wrote really sweet things they were grateful for including family, friends and even food! It was a sweet moment and a new tradition we will carry forward.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! For more info on our holiday, check out my
saved stories on my Instagram @hillarytollecarter.