My first gluten and dairy free Christmas
Hey guys today is going to be all about my first gluten and dairy free Christmas. How i decided on a menu, recipe testing and how it all came together on the day.
Let’s start with how this all came about. I’m the only one in my family that has food intolerance’s/allergies which is why i make all my own food and make them separate meals. This usually works great as that way i can eat whatever i want and they can eat what they want and nobody has to compromise or feel left out.
I could of course have done this with Christmas dinner but that would have been too much hassle and stress as i was making a 3-course meal for 7 people. I also didn’t want to worry about accidentally cross contaminating my food with there’s as I have a smallish kitchen so space is an issue. That’s when i decided to just make the entire meal gluten and dairy free i also didn’t use anything else i can’t eat i.e. garlic, onion, carrot lentils, beans and raisins. This way i knew it would be less stress and i wouldn’t have worry about keeping things separate and could relax and enjoy the meal.
Now i had decided what I wasn’t going to include i actually had to find suitable recipes and test them out. The main thing i wanted to achieve with this meal was to prove to my family that free from food can still taste amazing. I feel like a lot of people my family included has a misconception that free from food doesn’t taste nice and can be boring. For this reason, I decided not to tell them beforehand that I was going to be making it free from everything I couldn’t eat. I never lied to them I told them what I was making and they never asked what was in it.
The only exception to this was the mince pies i made. My mum tasted the first batch I made and i told her afterwards that they were gluten, dairy free and without raisins. She loved them and even thought they were better than the store-bought ones, so much so she never bought anymore and just ate the ones i was making.
After the success of the mince pies which was the first recipe i tried out this gave me the benchmark to make everything taste as good. I used Pinterest and Instagram the most to find recipes and then YouTube for extra inspiration. I kept the Pinterest board i made private as my sister uses Pinterest to i didn’t want anything to give it away. I started researching recipes at the end of November and once i had decided on what I wanted to make the recipe tested began.
I tried to keep things as simple as possible which isn’t always easy with gluten free food, as you tend to need to use extra ingredients to mimic what the gluten would do especially when it comes to baking. With this in mind i kept the starter and main course as naturally gluten free as possible and left the more difficult recipes for the desserts.
I knew I wanted to make soup and prawn cocktail for the starters as this is what we have every year. The prawn cocktail was simple enough to adapt as I only had to change the mayonnaise for plain alpro soy yogurt.
Next was deciding on what soup to make I have been enjoying using butternut squash a lot and found some good recipes. I went with a roasted butternut squash and ginger soup. I first tried adding peanut butter to it as one recipe suggested but It was just ok. I didn’t love it though so left it out on the second one I made it and I preferred it better. I liked the kick of ginger it cut through the sweetness of the butternut squash really well. I would have just made the one soup but my mum and dad don’t like butternut squash soup so I made a tomato and red pepper one as well. This one was simple and one that I just made up on my own, it turned out really yummy.
By this time is was about half way through December and I had decided on and recipe tested the starters and one of the desserts. I knew I wanted lots of dessert options as this is personally my favourite thing to make. There were plenty of recipes to choose from for desserts as a lot of the people I follow on Instagram were doing lots of Christmas baking post.
I really wanted to make gingerbread men but had never made it from scratch before as I had always though it was too much hassle what with all the spices you need. The gingerbread was by far the hardest recipe to prefect I had to try three different recipes to get it to what I thought was prefect. I managed this by combining the texture of the first recipe by @feastingonfruit with the taste of the second recipe by @panaceats. I got both them off Instagram and although the finished gingerbread definitely didn’t look like your normal gingerbread I was really happy with it.
I used to always make candy cane cookies for Christmas/all year round before this year. I actually stumbled upon the recipe one day while scrolling through Instagram.I used @pancaeats recipe to make them dairy free simply just use dairy free butter. This was the unhealthiest of all the recipes I made as it had refined sugar and lots of dairy free butter but I didn’t mind especially after trying them as they turned out really good and were pretty similar to the ones i used to make. I did try to make them with coconut sugar but it affected the colour too much and didn’t look very nice.
The last dessert I made of course had to include chocolate. This was a recipe I had previously made a few weeks prior, when I saw it on Instagram. It’s a very simple and easy vegan chocolate mousse by feastingonfruits. It’s delicious and one of the few recipes I didn’t have to alter at all. With all the dessert tried and twisted I moved on to the main course.
For this I didn’t tested any of it out previously, mainly because it was just roasting veg and making stuffing. Obliviously I wasn’t going to test out the turkey either. The main course was the only thing I had to make on Christmas day itself except the chestnut stuffing I made that the day before.
I used a Tesco recipe that I slightly adapted it was already a gluten free recipe. I omitted the sun-dried tomatoes only because I hadn’t realised the jar I had picked up had garlic in them. I also baked them in the oven to help dry them out and crisp up a bit as the mixture was quite wet. Am glad I did this as it made them not only hold together better but improved the taste a lot. I definitely think the sherry you choose affects the flavour of the stuffing. When it comes to sherry I don’t know the first thing about it and just chose one that wasn’t too expensive as I didn’t need much of it and didn’t want to much waste money.
I kept the turkey simple and only use dairy free butter rubbed under the skin to keep it moist. I seasoned the whole turkey with salt and pepper and then wrap tin foil over the top. Preheated my oven to 180’c and place the turkey on a baking tray lined with tin foil and cooked it for about 1 hour 50 minutes. I removed the tin foil when there was 15 minutes left to let the skin crisp up. The turkey was probably the easiest thing to make and turned out really nice and juicy.
The vegetables took the longest to make because of the amount of prep. I kept them pretty simple as well I just used salt, pepper, olive oil and the coconut oil cooking spray from frylight. I used the coconut oil to spray the baking trays lined with greaseproof paper for roasting the veggies on. The salt and pepper as seasoning and the olive oil to toss the veggies in before roasting.
I started on the roast potatoes first as I knew peeling and chopping them would take the longest. Once peeled and chopped I par boiled them before seasoning them and tossing them in oil. I roasted them for about 45 minutes at 200c. You could do them at the same time as the turkey if you wanted. I had roasted all my veggies at the same time before the turkey went in the oven. I made two trays worth of roast potatoes.
Next vegetable I made was the roast parsnips. I peeled and chop the parsnips into baton shapes. Seasoned with salt and pepper tossed them in olive oil and placed them on another baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake these at the same temperature as the roast potatoes for about 45 minutes too.
The last vegetables I made was a combo of roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, toasted pecans and dried cranberries. I wanted to spice up the brussel sprouts this year as they can be kind of boring on their own. I used a recipe from Julia’s album i swapped out the maple syrup for fruit syrup and only added it to the pecans which i toasted in a pan. This recipe was easy to make and turned out great. I have made it twice since Christmas it was that tasty. My mum even liked the butternut squash which she doesn’t usually enjoy.
Lunch was set for 2:30pm and people started to arrive about 1 ish. I knew I wanted them to have something to snack on before lunch was served but didn’t want it to be to filling. I had seen loads of people making cheese boards and party platters and I had wanted to make one for a while. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out.
I had seen @itslivb YouTube video that had three vegan cheese boards recipe in it. I decided to make two of the vegan cheese from the video and then add hummus I made. Along with slices of red pepper, celery sticks, gluten and dairy free oatcakes from nairns, sesame seed bites and gluten free crackers. I got the bamboo chopping board from a charity shop a week before Christmas. The vegan cheeses turned out well and had a cheese flavour to them. They were more like a cheese spread as opposed to a block of cheese.
The whole cheese board went down really well and they all enjoyed it. I must admit trying to explain what the cheese spreads where was a little tricky as I didn’t want to say they were vegan and actually made out of nuts. This Is where my sister got a little suspicion but still tried them out and thought there were ok but didn’t have much of a cheese flavour. I would add more nutritional yeast next time for a stronger flavour.
I did end up serving lunch closer to 3pm by the time everyone ate the cheese board and I made the starters. My sister helped me plate the soup and prawn cocktails up which was nice of her. The starters when done well I had both the roasted butternut squash soup and the prawn and smoked salmon cocktail.
Next, I heated up the all the veggies in the oven, the stuffing in the microwave and my sister carved the turkey. I place everything out on the table for people to help themselves to it. This was my favourite part of the meal as I don’t normally sit down and eat with my family mainly because we all have different schedules. Even when we do I never eat the same as them so to be able to sit down, pass the food around and just eat any of the food was really cool and something I hadn’t realise I’d missed.
The main course was a success as well and I didn’t have many leftovers either. Which I was kind of surprised at as I felt like I had made enough food to feed an army at one point. Am not used to making food for more than 3 or 4 people at a time. By the time dessert rolled around everyone was getting a bit full. The mince pies and chocolate mousse where the clear favourites. I had a one of everything I made. The desserts were what I had the most leftovers of as most people only had one or two of the dessert and I made loads. I wasn’t complaining though as who doesn’t love extra dessert.
The time had finally come to reveal that everything they had eaten was actually relatively healthy. I said that I had a small confession to make and then told them the truth. My sister was the first to say she knew something had been going. She was suspicious from the start though as she had asked when I was making it earlier in the day if I was going to be eating the same as everyone else. I has simply said yes, I could eat it all but never explained how. Nobody else had a clue and didn’t care as they all enjoyed it regardless. This is what I had wanted from the start to prove that it was possible to make free from food taste just as good if not better than the norm. It made all the research, recipe testing, stress and time worth it.
I had a secret weapon when it came to making all the food for Christmas day. I bought a nutri ninja complete kitchen system with money my gran left me. It arrived a few days before Christmas and it made the whole process so much easier.
It’s definitely worth the big price tag I got mine off amazon when it was on sale for £120 instead of £200. It’s still worth the £200 though as it’s three machines in the one. I love how easy it is to switch between each attachment and the sheer power it has. Also, all the different pre-programmed settings it has is really helpful. The only thing I hadn’t realised was how razor sharp the blades were. Of course, I knew there were going to be sharp but on the first time using it I cut my finger on the blade for the food processor I had taken it out and sat it on the counter top when my finger grazed it. I am now extra careful when assembly and washing it.
This whole experience has been great. I have been able to try out lots of different recipes, ones I have been wanting to try for a while. Now I have some great alternatives and new products I found that am going to continue to use. Am excited for the next special occasion for the chance to come up with new recipes and continue to show that just because you have certain dietary requirements doesn’t mean you have to miss out. You can still have fun with making recipes and enjoy food in general.
Hope you enjoyed this rather long post and well done for making it to then end lol . If you have any questions leave them in the comments below. Remember if you recreate this or any of my recipes then tag me on Instagram @emmalouisecee i love to see them. I post what i eat in a day on my insta stories and behind the scenes of recipe testing, if you are ever curious. Have a great day x