Shine On
  • Surviving the holidays without gluten

    It’s not easy being gluten-free — nor is it always easy figuring out what to serve guests who can’t, or simply don’t, eat gluten. 

    We asked registered holistic nutritionist Sarah Maughan to help us navigate a gluten-free holiday meal. 

    Shine On: For readers hosting gluten-free guests this holiday season, what do we need to know as we menu-plan and prep (other than just ditch the flour)?

    Maughan: When hosting guests who require gluten-free diets, it’s important to have a conversation with them first and share your menu thoughts with them so they feel confident and comfortable about the meal. It also gives them a chance to have a conversation about cross-contamination — because you’re right, it’s not just omitting flour that’s important, it’s about sauces, and contaminated utensils that often create the most reactions.

    Holiday classics (like shortbread) can be made gluten-free with a few modifications. (Image via Sarah Maughan)Holiday classics (like shortbread) can be made gluten-free with a few modifications. (Image via Sarah Maughan)

    Make sure you ask your guest about cross-contamination and how to avoid accidentally adding gluten to a gluten-free dish — for example using the same mixing bowl for a

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  • While the holiday season is a time of plenty for some families, it’s not all festive cheer. Many can’t afford to put gifts under the tree or food on the table — which is why food banks have become a lifeline for millions of Canadians this time of year.

    While those in need don’t want to be choosey, having access to healthful, wholesome foods can certainly make a challenging situation easier to bear. In fact, an Ottawa-area food bank recently stopped accepting donations that weren’t considered healthy in order to help promote more healthful donations. The infographic below shows just how close to home hunger hits for many Canadians.

    (via Food Banks Canada)(via Food Banks Canada)

    This holiday season, Loblaw is hoping to help combat hunger in a meaningful way by encouraging shoppers to donate two (healthy) items at their local store - this would help food banks meet their demands through March. But what items are needed most, and how can you make sure your donation is healthful?

    “Envisioning a healthy dinner plate is a good way to

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  • What should I do when I get a gift I hate?

    ’Tis the season to give — and receive. But what should you do when you receive a gift you really don’t like?

    We went to etiquette expert Karen Cleveland to find out. 

    When in doubt, always express gratitude, appreciate the sentiment, and don’t throw out those ugly sweaters from Grandma.

    Always express gratitude for a gift -- even if you hate it. (Thinkstock)Always express gratitude for a gift -- even if you hate it. (Thinkstock)

    SHINE ON: What should you do if you receive a gift you hate — and you just opened it in front of the giver?

    Cleveland: Express your gratitude. Every gift, no matter how simple or extravagant deserves the same sincere thank you.  

    Is there ever an occasion when you should keep the gift (decor, jewelry, etc.) even though it’s not your style?

    Absolutely, for sentimental reasons. That gift, though not “you,” might come to mean something in years to come. 

    What if the gift is from someone close to you — a significant other, for example — and you’re really disappointed in their choice? Is it ever OK to broach the subject of gift expectations?

    No. In fact, the question makes me really sad. It sucks the true

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