The holiday season is one of the best times of the year for festive foods.
However, those with special diets may not be able to enjoy many of the traditional recipes because of the ingredients they contain.
But this does not mean they are left out from delicious dishes; modified recipes for long-time family favorites and new, nontraditional dishes can make holiday meals excellent and easy for special diets.
Avoiding gluten may seem difficult in a season brimming with stuffing, pies, Christmas cookies and other holiday must-haves.
However, it is possible to leave gluten out of favorite dishes without leaving out any flavor.
Because gluten-free products are widely available, leaving the gluten out of homemade recipes requires substituting gluten-free ingredients for their wheat-containing equivalents.
Baking a pie can be as easy as using gluten-free flour and other gluten-free ingredients.
To include a starch in a meal, some staples for gluten-free eating include potatoes, rice, squash and quinoa.
Corn products can also prove helpful—but as always, it is important to check ingredient lists.
For those following vegetarian or vegan diets, recipes tend to be very creative. Many well-known meals can be made easily with vegetables or meat substitutes, such as Tofurkey, Quorn or Gardein products.
A normal turkey can be replaced by a meatless Tofurkey roast, complete with stuffing, or a homemade pistachio and cranberry nut roast.
Even recipes like Turducken—a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey—have clever meatless counterparts. The “Vegducken” has the same structure, yet is composed of butternut squash, eggplant and zucchini.
Cauliflower can be a deceptively similar substitute for chicken in a traditional orange chicken recipe.
Vegans can also enjoy meals and baked goods that use dairy-free substitutes.
Milk can be replaced with a number of alternatives produced from soy, rice, potato, oat and almond, among others.
Butter can be substituted by using dairy-free margarine.
Substitutes for cheese, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese are also available, such as in soy-based products.
Diabetics may face a special challenge during the holidays as they are surrounded with high-sugar food. Yet this does not mean they should be left out from enjoying holiday meals with friends and family.
Meals can be planned to keep healthy balances using fruits and vegetables, whole grains, non-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish.
A variety of desserts are also available that are perfectly proportioned and contain low amounts of sugar to make them diabetes-friendly.
Sugar-free sweeteners also play an important role in keeping desserts both sweet and healthy in nature.
From orange baked ham to butternut squash soup, and from gingerbread cookies to fruit cake, diabetic-friendly holiday meals and desserts can be both healthy and delicious.