Valentine's Day on a Restricted Diet
By Kim Lutz
Web Exclusive - February 6, 2009
Valentine's Day conjures up images of hearts, cupids, and lots and lots of red. It also brings to mind candy, chocolates, and cookies that might not be safe for a child you love. Today, so many children have restricted diets, whether due to food allergies, gluten intolerance, or a desire for healthier eating, that it can make holidays like Valentine's Day stressful for conscientious moms. Once you start thinking outside of that heart-shaped box, though, you'll find that Valentine's Day offers many joyful opportunities for celebrating with any little one, regardless of diet.
Create New Food-Free Traditions
Although American culture places a strong emphasis on food in celebrations, you can create new traditions for your family that keep the focus on the celebration, rather than what's on the plate. All holidays lend themselves to creative expression, but Valentine's Day is all about showing the people you love how much you care. What better way to do that than by creating beautiful, homemade Valentine's cards? Bringing out construction paper, glitter, markers, and glue sets the stage for an afternoon of fun. There is nothing quite like messy creativity to bring out the giggles. But don't let your artistic expression stop at the mailbox. Making Valentine's Day decorations serves two purposes: you have fun making the decorations, and you also get the mental lift of a pretty house during the doldrums of winter!
Once your home is ready for Valentine's Day, you might still want to give your wee one a little something special. Although candy manufacturers would have you believe that sugar- and food-coloring-filled confections are the best way to show your love, there are so many small gifts to give that your child will enjoy long after February 14 has passed. Bookmarks, stickers, tattoos, and pencils all make great fillers for Valentine's gift bags. Your local bookstore has quite a selection of love-themed books that are just right for the occasion. A good story can mean extra snuggles before bedtime. You can also make your own Valentine's book by putting together a few photos of your child with the people she loves.
A Special Treat for a Special Child
Just because you have to honor certain limits when creating holiday treats, doesn't mean that your celebration of Valentine's Day has to be entirely food-free. Strawberries and raspberries lend themselves beautifully to this reddest of holidays. Use them on their own in a bowl, as the centerpiece of a pink smoothie, or slice them on top of some sorbet.
With childhood food allergies and gluten intolerance on the rise, there has been a veritable explosion in the availability of allergen-safe foods at the grocery store and online. You can now get allergen- and gluten-free candy bars, cookies, and other treats. If you decide that you want to provide a special sweet something for the holiday, just make sure that you read the labels of any foods you buy carefully to ensure that they are safe.
Try the following recipe for a special Valentine's Day treat. These yummy strawberry crepes are allergen-free, gluten-free (if you use gluten-free oats to make the oat flour), and low in added sugar. Most important, though, they are beautiful and delicious. They make for a special breakfast or a tasty dessert. You can top them with the coconut créme, a little powdered sugar, or some lemon sorbet. (Please note that although most people with celiac can tolerate oats, you should check with your child's doctor first.)
Crepes with Strawberry Filling and Coconut Créme
Makes 4-5 crepes
For the crepes:
1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup oat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium bowl, combine rice milk, water and melted coconut oil.
- Mix in oat flour, sugar and salt. Stir until smooth.
- Heat a small (4-5 inch) nonstick pan over medium flame.
- Pour approximately 3 tablespoons batter into pan. Swirl to spread evenly in pan.
- Cook until edges firm up, then flip.
- Cook on other side. Crepes cook quickly; they should be lightly golden and cooked through.
- Let cool on piece of wax paper, until ready to serve.
For the strawberry filling:
1 cup all-fruit strawberry preserves
1 cup sliced strawberries (can use frozen strawberries)
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons cold water
- Combine preserves and strawberries in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water, stirring until completely dissolved.
- Once strawberries are boiling, add cornstarch mixture and reduce heat to simmer.
- Stir until thickened.
To assemble crepes:
- Place one crepe in the center of a small plate.
- Spoon filling onto one side.
- Wrap crepe over the filling.
For coconut créme:
- Place an unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Open can and spoon thickened coconut milk on top of each crepe.