30A Editorial Photography & Education » 30A editorial photographer. Serving 30A & Panama City Beach, Florida.

A Safe & Happy (Southern) Thanksgiving

Here in the South, meal time carries a sort of sacredness. Holidays call for weeks of preparation, freshly-ironed party dresses and spending time with multiple generations. Thanksgiving has always been one of my personal favorites, since it signals the start of the holiday season and… PUMPKIN PIE.  In the two years since our little man was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies, we have taken family dinners by the reigns and figured out how to plan meals that are delicious and safe. The first year, we simple kept him away because he wouldn’t get into things. We’d feed him his own food and plates and just keep an eye on him. Last year, things got a little more difficult – he was reaching for things and putting everything in his mouth. Now that he’s almost 2.5, we decided it was time to make our Thanksgiving 100% safe for him. That meant no dairy, seeds, peanuts, tree nuts, mango, etc. Even saying the list makes me tired. After months of planning, I ended up being diagnosed with celiac disease. The upside of my son having food allergies (trying to thinking positive) is that we have learned how to read labels and really gotten into cooking from scratch. But no gluten? That was going to be a hard one! Fortunately, my in-laws are pretty amazing and decided to take charge. We scoured the internet for recipes I could also eat and worked on a few key items at home, like a surprisingly delicious blueberry lemon pound cake.

The photo, above, is actually of our first one. Yes, there was a second one. Yes, it was because we got into it the night before.

Chris also smoked several turkeys in his Big Green Egg. They were so pretty I had to take a picture.

When Thanksgiving Day came, I was shocked at just how much we could eat! Not only was everything 100% safe for him, but I could eat plenty – like the sweet potato casserole. See that orange dish? I licked. it. clean.

No Southern Thanksgiving would be complete without some fresh oysters though. Since little man is not allergic to shellfish, the men got to shucking together out on the patio.

The ice cold Appalachicola oysters were phenomenal, but we obviously didn’t feed the toddler any. It took me a few minutes to figure out the best way to eat them because I’m used to putting them on a Saltine. I ended up sucking it out of the shell. Yum, yum!

The biggest surprise of the day was the desserts my mother-in-law made just for me. She modified a recipe flourless chocolate cake and it was so good we were left fighting over the last piece. Seriously. The gluten and dairy wasn’t missed at all!

And then there were the apples. I have no idea what went in it, but I was reassured that it was completely dairy, nut and gluten free – the oats were gluten-free as well.

This Thanksgiving was certainly different from others, but with a lot of planning, it ended up being stress-free, safe and delicious. We hope that your family’s Thanksgiving was as pleasant as well. Gobble gobble!!!

– Holly

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