With the holiday season quickly approaching, it's time for holiday parties, family gatherings, and what can easily be considered the "most wonderful time of the year." As if this season didn't come with enough stress, us IC'ers also have to deal with the big question of "what if they don't have anything there I can eat?"
There are a couple of ways you can deal with this. First, you can eat something before you go. Last year I attended an engagement party where there was literally nothing I could eat, except rolls. The salad was already tossed with vinegrette, and the main courses all consisted of pasta or meat with tomato sauce. I snacked on rolls until I finally was dizzy with hunger, and we had to end up leaving so I could get a burger at the hotel bar. I'll never do that again! Before you go, eat something light. Heat up some leftovers, or make a cheese sandwich and have a sliced pear. At least you'll have something in your stomach before you go, and if they do have something you can eat, you can still indulge.
Another option is asking the party host if you can bring something. Growing up, at most family gatherings the host would provide the main dish, and everyone would bring a side dish of their choice. This is a great way to not show up to a gathering empty handed, and you'll ensure that there is something you can eat.
The last option is to host the party yourself. You can control the entire menu, and have as many IC safe/low-oxalate options as your heart desires! Why not host an appetizer party? The food is bite-sized, and you can serve multiple dishes instead of one full meal. The problem is, what to make that is safe for you and tasty for others? Here are a few of my personal appetizer favorites that have also been a hit with the guests:
Faux Boursin Cheese Ball:
This recipe is from Bev Laumann's "A Taste of the Good Life", which was one of the first book's I bought after being diagnosed with IC. This is a party staple for me, and has also become one for my friends and family. Every time I've served this, I've had at least 2 people ask for the recipe. Yes, it's that good!
1 8oz package cream cheese (use neufachel for a low-fat option) softened
1 tsp milk
1/4 garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp drie thyme
1/4 tstp onion salt
1/4 dried basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 black pepper (or white pepper for low-oxalate option)
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/2 finely chopped almonds (optional)
Blend together the cream cheese, milk, and remaining ingredient, except the nuts. Mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap in general shape of a ball. Chill for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge, and roll in nuts to cover. Serve in a round platter with IC safe/low oxalate veggies or crackers, and spreading knives.
**you can also omit the nuts by serving the cheese ball right after chilling, before rolling in nuts**
This recipe is adapted from the VP Foundation's Low Oxalate Cookbook-Book Two. This dip tastes much better than it looks, trust me!
1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp. black or white pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil
Cover lentils with water and simmer until mushy, about 35-40 minutes. In a food processor, add the mushy lentils and remaining ingredients. Blend until combined. Serve with pits chips or tortilla chips.
Red Pepper Pinwheels
1 red bell pepper
4 medium flour tortillas (I like Mission white flour Tortillas for a low-oxalate option)
1/2 cup spreadable cheese (you can either use Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese spread, or you can make the faux-boursin cheese ball above, and use 1/2 cup for this recipe)
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon, basil, or mint
1) roast the red pepper. Preheat broiler, line baking dish with tin foil, place red pepper in dish. Broil about 10 minutes, turning the pepper every 2-3 minutes to bake evenly. Take out of oven, wrap broiled pepper with tin foil from baking pan, an let sit for 10 minutes. This steams the pepper, and makes removing the skin easier. Peel to remove blackened skin, core, and remove seeds. Slice into thin strips.
2) Stack tortillas on a plate, cover with damp paper towel then wax paper. Heat for 30 seconds in microwave until warm.
3) Spread 2 Tbls. cheese on tortilla. Top with about 1/4 of pepper slices. Sprinkle with herbs. Roll up tortilla gently but firm. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, but not more than 4 hours. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
4) Unwrap tortillas and slice off ragged ends. Cut each wrap diagonally in about 5 slices, and serve on platter.
Coconut Chicken Skewers:
1 pkg. boneless chicken breasts (about 1lb.)
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs (use white breadcrumbs for low-oxalate option)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbls. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (cinnamon is high in oxalate, but use in a low enough amount in this recipe)
salt and pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate option)
4 Tbls. Butter
1) Slice chicken into thin strips or in bite-size chunks.
2) Combine breadcrumbs, coconut, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a wide bowl.
3) Dip chicken first in flour, then egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumb mixture until coated.
4) over medium high heat, melt 2-4 Tbls. butter to coat pan. Add chicken and pan fry in butter until golden and chicken is cooked through.
5) Add chicken to skewers, or add toothpicks to each chicken bite. Serve on platter with pear sauce.
1 cup pear jelly (you can order pear jelly from the IC network, or Braswells makes a low-acid pear jelly)
2 Tbls. pear juice (I use organic Knudsen's pear juice)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. For a chunkier sauce, stir with spoon and serve. For a smoother sauce, place in blender or food processor and blend until combined.
Whether you decide to have your own party or bring a dish to someone else's, I hope you enjoy all your holiday gatherings and have a wonderful holiday season!