Around this time of year, food takes center stage. In my daily life, this is always true. I love food. My family loves food. Even though I grew up moving every three to five years from country to country and city to city, food grounded me wherever we called home. My parents made sure of that. It’s this passion for great food that still binds us all now even though my brother Bernardo lives in Los Angeles, my parents split their time between Sarasota and Rome, and I’m raising my family in Brooklyn.
“My parents built a family grounded by food and love. I have set out to do exactly that.”
My first experience in the gluten-free world—beyond my family’s home—was at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)’s Appetite for Awareness event last winter. It was the first stop on my Cooking for Isaiah book tour. I brought Isaiah with me and together we did a cooking demo and hung out at a table answering people’s questions about gluten-free cooking and living. We both had so much to say—and so much to learn. It was an incredible start of our gluten-free journey together.
We’re campaigning for a fun, delicious gluten-free holiday. For details, please visit NFCA’s holiday headquarters and sign up for an exclusive email featuring the rest of my holiday how-to tips and more family recipes.
Plus, when you sign up for the exclusive email, you’ll be entered to win a weekly Crunchmaster giveaway and the Crunchmaster Grand Prize: $100 cash plus $40 worth of free Crunchmaster crackers. Note: You must sign up by Friday at 12 noon ET to get my tips and recipes—and be entered to win prizes.
Check out what my friends are blogging about for the NFCA’s Gluten-Free Holiday “How-To’s” Blogger Campaign:
Nov. 21-25: How to Survive Your First Gluten-Free Holiday featuring Shirley Braden of Gluten-Free Easily
Dec. 5-Dec. 9: How to Fit a Fruit or Vegetable in Every Holiday Dish featuring Rachel Begun, RD, of The Gluten-Free RD
Dec. 12-16: How to Keep Your Gluten-Free Holiday Low Fuss and Low Cost featuring Carol Kicinski of Simply…Gluten-Free
Through the years, I’ve come up with 10 Tips to a Gluten-Free Holiday the Kids (and Adults) Will Love:
1) Set realistic expectations. Keep things easy and you’ll have more fun. Trust me. I’m one of those hosts who thinks I can do it all until I realize how overwhelmed I feel.
2) Ask for help. I learned this lesson from my simple wedding, which was featured in New York magazine. The biggest compliment I received that night was, “You look like you’re actually having fun!” Well, I hope so! Your friends and family will want to help anyway, so why not let them?
3) Get the kids involved from the start. I like to sit around the kitchen table with Isaiah and Chiara to plan our holiday activities—from ice skating in Prospect Park, watching tree and menorah lightings to building a gingerbread house.
4) Cook food your kids love to eat. Sounds logical, but sometimes I come up with a new menu of recipes I want to make and forget to include my kids’ favorites.
5) Play your kids’ favorite music. I like to cook with music in the background. It relaxes and focuses me. Kids are no different. In my house, this could range anywhere from Elizabeth Mitchell to Jay-Z. (That’s what happens when you have a 5-year-old daughter and an almost 15-year-old son.)
Sign up for an exclusive email featuring the rest of my holiday how-to tips and more family recipes, like the one below.
This recipe is from my first book, Cooking for Isaiah It's one of our family favorites for breakfast, snack or dessert. If you make these muffins around the holidays, stir a handful of dried cranberries or ¼ cup chopped walnuts into the batter. You can also make pumpkin muffin tops with this recipe—just use a muffin-top pan and bake for about 10 minutes.
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Add the shortening and, using your fingers or a fork, blend together until coarse crumbs form.
- To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, oil and vanilla until smooth. Add to the flour mixture; stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan until each cup is two-thirds full; top each with crumble topping. Bake until the muffins are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan, set on a wire rack. Using a sieve, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.