I know it is technically, the 2nd of January, but for all practical purposes being that it is Monday, it is the real start to the new year. As a result today is my official Day 1 of being dairy-free. As I am still recovering from New Years Eve, I slept in and have only had mint tea today, so...so far dairy-free has been a breeze! But, of course my mind cannot stop thinking of the yogurt that sits in my fridge taunting me.
The holidays were extremely enjoyable and full of delicious gluten-free food, family and friends, and I seemed to make it safely through all of the restaurants and parties. And there were lots of parties! My gluten-radar is definitely more in tune.
The main thing in navigating these situations is to ask questions! If you are at someone's house and that smoked pork looks delicious....then don't feel shy and ask your host what/how it was cooked. Sometimes even if it was made safe, it can scream cross-contamination, with how the dish is placed on the buffet table (next to stuffing, sharing a serving spoon?), or you can't find the creator of the dish - oohh, those potatoes dauphinoise looks scrumptious, but there could be hidden flour. Turkey smoked in beer?? Sounds unusual, but it does happen. The key is never to take anything for granted. After coming across soy sauce in salsa at a local restaurant here in Atlanta (Flying Burrito), I always ask what all ingredients are. Of course, I do so in a nice way, and try to be as polite as possible, I don't want to annoy my host, or sound like a broken record. Because people are not mindreaders, and maybe in the past you have mentioned your food issues and you assume they may tell you, but don't assume. Always ask, and always ask nicely!! I can't stress this enough.
Sometimes things will seem questionable, and in those cases -REFRAIN! It may seem sad not to take part in the collard greens with everyone else, but if you can't be sure if the broth used is gluten-free, it is not worth the discomfort and pain you will feel later that will cause you to leave the party early and miss out on all the fun conversation. It is much better to do without, enjoy that third glass of wine and feel great.
Restaurants can cause another snafu. I have learned that if I ask our server a few questions I can usually gauge my comfort level, if they have to ask me if gluten is found in dairy, I know I need to play it safe (or leave). If they respond by educating me in what gluten can be found in, then I feel I have struck gluten-free gold, and feel much more at ease and willing to try their recommendations. This was my experience for our Christmas Eve dinner at Murphy's, here in Virginia Highlands (Atlanta). I can't rave about it enough, and can't wait to go back! You can read my review here.
Some of my culinary favorites this holiday season were the smoked pork dishes over New Years weekend, smoked turkey (beer-free) I enjoyed on Boxing Day, my brother-in-law's cheese ball, scalloped potatoes, my friend's chocolate flourless almond cake, my Indian meal at Panahar, and this gem on The Pioneer Woman's blog, black-eyed pea dip.
Notice a pattern with many of those favorite dishes? Dairy! I love it, I can't get enough, and now that I am coming up to lunchtime on my first official dairy-free day I am craving that yogurt, the full carton of Trader Joe's eggnog, the block of cheddar cheese, the luscious blue cheese I would like to add to my omelette, the list goes on. But for 30 days, I am saying no. Just so no to dairy is going to be my MO for January. I just have to tell myself that if I can quit gluten, I can quit dairy for a measly 30 days.
And what happens after these 30 days? I am not sure. I will reevaluate if the lack of dairy made me feel any different, if I lost any weight, and take it from there.
So, please bring on your favorite dairy-free/gluten-free recipes, I would love to learn more.
What were some of your culinary gluten-free favorites of the holiday season?