Navigating the Holidays With Food Restrictions

Posted On Dec 23, 2019 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Piece of pecan pie bar on a plate.

I am part of the 1%.

No, not that 1%, the other 1%: The 1% of Americans who have Celiac Disease.

As a newly diagnosed Celiac navigating my first holiday season with this newfound knowledge (although looking back I’ve probably had it for close to 4-5 years), my initial thoughts were overwhelm, dread, anger, self-pity, and now finally I’m slowly coming around to acceptance.

Even being a dietitian and having experience working with Celiac patients, it’s different to live through it yourself. You don’t ever get a day off from it. It will never ever go away. There’s no pill to help manage it. And avoiding gluten is not as simple as it sounds. It doesn’t mean just shopping the gluten free aisle, selecting items from a gluten free menu, and avoiding all the carb-y goodness the holidays has to offer.

This doesn’t only pertain to Celiac Disease though but any life-long disease requiring daily management, planning, and strategizing. If you have a condition or disease that makes the holidays, traveling, eating out, and social events stressful, just know that I get it. You’re not alone, even though it can feel like it a lot of the time. You can enjoy the holidays! Focusing on what you can have, rather than what you can’t is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

And then finding some delicious alternatives to add to your holiday menu! That’s where I come in!

I know I’m determined to, which is why the recipe below is not only for Celiacs but it’s completely grain-free and sugar-free to meet a multitude of health issues and concerns. One of my favorite holiday indulgences is pecan pie. Enjoy!

A bowl of pecans.

Indulgent Grain-Free Pecan Pie Bars

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Servings: 12

Nutrition per serving:
Calories 140Fat 12 gCarbs 7 gFiber 4 gProtein 3 g


For the cookie crust:

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond or other nut flour
  • 2 tbsp keto or sugar-free maple syrup (You can use regular maple syrup if sugar content isn’t a concern)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil (I highly recommend using butter for the extra flavor or you can add ½ teaspoon butter extract)

For the gooey topping:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp keto or sugar-free maple syrup
  • 2/3 alternative sweetener (I prefer golden monkfruit)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cup pecans, chopped
  • Optional: ½ cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl mix all ingredients for the crust.
  3. Press into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While the crust is baking, heat the coconut oil, maple syrup, sweetener, and salt over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Mix in pecans, stir, and heat for 2 minutes. Take off heat.
  5. Pour pecan mixture on top of crust and bake for an additional 5 minutes. **If adding chocolate chips, spread them evenly over pecan mixture at this step.
  6. Remove from oven; allow to cool.

Recipe adapted from