Just as we may expect holiday feasts to be lavish, so too do we expect the ensuing, debilitating food comas.

And yet, are they really unavoidable?

One Thanksgiving, food blogger and cookbook author Danielle Walker made grain-free, paleo dishes from recipes she’d been testing. Many family members told her that they felt less tired after the meal.

Readers of her blog, Against All Grain, kept asking for recipes suitable for special celebrations. “There are not a lot of these out there. They don’t want to sacrifice flavor and traditions and textures,” Walker said.

The author is releasing a holiday cookbook on Sept. 27, titled “Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion” (Ten Speed Press, September 2016).

Walker recovered from an autoimmune disease by embracing a grain-free diet. She understands how people can feel like they’re missing out at holiday parties while adhering to a diet that doesn’t embrace traditional holiday fare. So she released two e-books with holiday recipes prior to writing “Celebrations.”

Danielle Walker. (Jennifer Skog)
Danielle Walker. (Jennifer Skog)

“I would joke that the biggest compliment I can get is when somebody says they’ve won over their husband,” she said.

The book is divided into 12 occasions throughout the year, each chapter offering a full menu. Under “Autumn Dinner Party,” she offers recipes for curry pumpkin soup, roasted autumn harvest salad, butternut sage carbonara, chai-poached pears, and spiced apple hot toddy.

One of the main challenges was baking. Traditional cookbooks are no help when it comes to grain-free baked goods. “You’re not using yeast, and you’re using completely different flours, which perform a lot differently. You can’t take almond flour or coconut flour and substitute [them] into your grandmother’s recipe one-to-one,” she said.

(Erin Kunkel © 2016)
(Erin Kunkel © 2016)

Many are based on her family’s heirloom recipes. “A lot of what I did was to recreate a lot of the traditions and memories that I remember from growing up, and recipes that my grandmother passed down,” she said. She converted those recipes to “pass those traditions on to people who are eating this way and are looking for new inspiration.”

See Walker’s recipe for Maple Pumpkin Pie

(Courtesy of Ten Speed Press)
(Courtesy of Ten Speed Press)