Photo Credit: honeybaked.com
Ahhhh...it's the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah right...not really if you have food allergies. Everyone else around me can't wait for the holidays because they get to eat their asses off without a care in the world. No cross contamination to worry about and no hidden gluten ingredients to fear. This year for me the holidays mean that I either make an entire Thanksgiving/Christmas meal for myself or I politely eat my gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nightshade free pretzels while everyone else stuffs their faces full of all of my favorite foods that would put me in bed for days if I consumed even a bite.
I haven't decided which route I'm going to take (cook or starve) this year but I wanted to share with you something that ALMOST happened to me last Thanksgiving. I did not know at that time that I shouldn't have been eating dairy or eggs, so I was most obsessed concerned with gluten. I had already talked with my MIL about the Thanksgiving menu and made sure that I would have at least a couple things to eat. I was looking forward to turkey, ham, mash taters, sweet taters and corn puddin'. I knew I couldn't have the green bean casserole (made with cream of mushroom soup that contains gluten) and obviously the dinner rolls. I brought with me my own homemade GF gravy and my GF crackers to enjoy my SIL's famous Buffalo Chicken Dip.
It's Thanksgiving day and we were all in the kitchen loading our plates up with the goodies. I noticed that the ham looked different than in years past but didn't put to much thought into it. We all sat down to eat and say the blessing. As I was about to put a bite of ham in my mouth my MIL commented that this year she decided to buy and bake a spiral ham. I looked down at the piece of ham on my fork and I noticed the brown coating on the outside. I asked her about it and she said "It came with a packet of seasoning and I just added water to make a paste to spread over the ham. Don't worry...it's just brown sugar". No...she didn't just say "Don't worry" 'cause I am about to freak out. I wanted to throw down my fork and run screaming through the house "Danger...Danger...ALERT...ALERT". But what I really did was politely excuse myself back to the kitchen and throw everything off my plate away. I got a new plate and started over again...without the ham.
Just like in gravy mixes, gluten can hide in seasoning packets too. After eating and BEFORE everyone cleaned off their plates into the garbage, I rummaged and found the seasoning packet ingredients. It did indeed contain GLUTEN! It is so important that you think about every single thing that you put into your body BEFORE you consume it when you have food allergies. It is imperative when you eat out either at a restaurant or at someones house that you are able to find out EVERYTHING about the meal. If you are to uncomfortable to ask, then you better a) bring your own food b) not eat anything you can't verify the ingredients. This might mean upsetting your MIL or getting funky looks from a waiter but this is about your health and you must be your own advocate. Trust me when I say NO ONE else will care as much about a seasoning packet that is just "brown sugar" than you. At the time, I had been eating gluten free for over eleven years and I still almost got "glutened" because I let my guard down.
I was almost killed (or at least my stomach) by a spiral ham, don't let this happen. Don't let "The Spiral Ham of Death" get you.
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