So, I’m struggling a bit with one portion of this whole holiday cheer thing.
It may seem petty and silly, but the reason I’m struggling is because I won’t be able to enjoy some of my favorite foods this year. I have a lot of things to be thankful (oh gosh, so many things), but all those blessings don’t negate the fact that I’m bummed that I can’t eat my Mama’s world-famous chocolate chip cookies.
Why are the cookies on the blacklist? Well, I’ve talked about it a little bit, but I’ve had to cut all dairy and soy out of my diet due to an intolerance that JuneBug has (called Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance, or MSPI). When the doctor first mentioned it, I honestly thought the hardest part would be giving up my weekly heavy-on-the-cheese pizzas, but the worst part has been dealing with all the hidden ways soy and dairy sneak into my everyday foods. It’s not just that I can’t have milk or yogurt or tofu or ice cream or edamame, it’s that I have to be a super vigilant label-reader of every single product in the kitchen.
I actually thought I was doing okay with it, but JuneBug’s symptoms kept getting worse, so I took an even harder look at all the items in my kitchen, and I was shocked at how many items I was using that didn’t make the cut (cooking spray, canned tuna, pretzels, crackers, bread). Once I finally realized how many soy and dairy products I was eating and slashed them away, JuneBug started getting better. Which is awesome. And I am so grateful that the key to making my baby girl feel better was a simple switch in my diet, but I’m still sad that I have to skip most of the deliciousness of the holidays.
I think for a lot of families, ours included, holiday celebrations center around food. I know there is a whole push to not tie your emotions to food and to view food as only fuel, but I personally feel like that’s a load of baloney. I think ignoring the emotional component of food is just as dangerous as downing three boxes of Twinkies after a bad day at work. Food is inherently emotional. And ignoring that is just setting yourself up for an unhealthy relationship with food. So, yes, I’m sad I’m going to be missing some of my favorite foods this holiday season. And that’s a perfectly healthy emotion.
Thankfully, there are a few ways I can tweak and adjust some of my holiday favorites and still get to eat them. My Mama made me a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving made with coconut oil and coconut milk. And I’ve already whipped up my first batch of coconut milk eggnog. And dude, it is amazing!
There are two methods for making homemade eggnog—the cooked way and the raw way. The raw way is super easy, quick, and traditional, but it also means you are straight up drinking raw egg yolks. It doesn’t bother me (and never has, I have a very clear memory of my Dad shaking up an entire gallon of raw eggnog in the kitchen at Christmas), but if it does irk you, there are lots of recipes out there for cooked eggnog—mostly they just involved slowly heating the mixture until it’s just warm enough to pasteurize the eggs, but not so much that you get scrambled eggs.
I have a half-gallon-sized Mason jar of this stuff just hanging out in my fridge for whenever I get a hankering for eggnog (or want to use eggnog in a holiday recipe, which happens all the time). I’ll probably still pick up some “regular” nog for my holiday guests, because while this stuff is incredibly delicious, it still tastes like coconut. That’s not a problem for a coconut-lover like me, but it’s not exactly traditional.
This dairy-free version of the classic Christmas drink uses creamy, thick, and rice coconut milk.
Here’s a little holiday week confession for you: I’ll take ham over turkey any day of the week. I know turkey is tradition and everything, but I love ham so much more. I like ham sandwiches and ham ‘n’ beans. I like the way ham is rich and flavorful. And I like that you can plop a ham in the slow cooker and pretty much call it donesies.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, but Cassie, there is no way my slow cooker will hold a ham. And, well, that’s true if you have a small slow cooker. But if you have a larger one (like my six quart one—love this slow cooker), you can absolutely fit a quarter ham with the lid on, and you can even fit a half ham if you make a fake lid with aluminum foil—it works perfectly.
You could just cook the ham in the slow cooker in the glaze, serve it, and call it that. It would be delicious! But I like to go the extra step and simmer down the cooking liquid and then glaze the ham and put it for a quick trip under the broiler. It gives it that glossy, glazed, sticky, delicious coating that is pretty much the thing dreams are made of.
The great thing about slow cooker ham is that if you must absolutely serve turkey for all your holiday meals, this ham is so simple that you can make it for pretty much any meal. It doesn’t have to be totally special holiday dinner. Heck, this is even fast enough prep-time wise to work for a weeknight dinner! And then you could have really amazing sandwiches for lunch at your desk the next day.
I know a lot of you are hitting the road (or the air) over the next few days, so here’s me sending lots of wishes of headache-free, safe travels—in the form of ham. Have a wonderful holiday, friends!
Think cooking a delicious, moist, and tender ham has to be a difficult task? Not so with this slow cooker ham recipe with a honey-mustard glaze.