Have a Gluten Free Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Katie Fries

Part of living the gluten free lifestyle is learning how to handle social gatherings like weddings, pot lucks and holidays. Are far as food-related events go, Thanksgiving is huge. Many “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes, from stuffing to pie to green bean casserole (come on, you know you love it) rely on gluten-containing ingredients. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a thing to dread though. It may mean bringing new recipes to the table, but those new recipes may become just as beloved as, well, green bean casserole.

Our first gluten free Thanksgiving was four years ago, a mere week after my son was diagnosed with celiac disease. At first we weren’t sure what to do. Instead of stuffing we served him wild rice and made some gluten free cornbread muffins to go with his turkey. As the years have gone by and I have learned more about gluten-free cooking, our gluten free Thanksgivings have become more sophisticated. Thanks to the online gluten free community and some creative recipe tweaking on my part, I’ve been able to make gluten free dishes that can sit side by side with their traditional counterparts so nobody has to feel left out. This is what we will be having this year:

Turkey: Read ingredient labels carefully. I always buy fresh, unbrined turkeys to ensure they are gluten free. We use gluten-free ingredients to prepare our turkeys.

Gravy: Some pre-made gravies or gravy packets contain gluten but homemade gravy can be made using gluten free ingredients — just use cornstarch or sweet rice flour (instead of all-purpose flour) as a thickener.

Stuffing: In the past I have made Stephanie O’Dea’s Perfect Homemade Stuffing from her A Year of Slow Cooking blog (a great resource for family-friendly gluten free meals). The great thing about this recipe is that it frees up the oven for other dishes.

Green bean casserole: The “typical” green bean casserole calls for condensed cream of mushroom soup (which is not usually gluten-free) and french fried onions (also a no-no). Last year I saw Claire Robinson make her Family Fresh Green Bean Casserole on a Food Network special and was happy to discover that I could easily modify it to be gluten-free (use a gluten free flour in place of all-purpose flour and make sure you use spiced apple pie every year. It is, without a doubt, the best thing about Thanksgiving. I was so sad last year when I realized I would have to miss out. Then he surprised me by tweaking Martha’s recipe to make it gluten free. He made the filling as directing (subbing in recipe section of the Pamela’s website) for the crust.

Bread: Bob’s Red Mill makes a gluten-free cornbread mix. Check your local Whole Foods or health food store; many will be advertising their gluten free bread options at this time of year!

We will be bringing our own stuffing, green bean casserole and pie to two different family dinners this year. While it’s extra work, it means that nobody has to feel left out. Feel free to think outside the box as you prepare your Thanksgiving menu. Experiment with serving quinoa as a side dish, or fresh cranberry salsa. A simple Google search on “gluten free Thanksgiving” will yield pages of recipe ideas. And this is one thing I’m thankful for: the sharing and support found in the gluten free community (and the technology that brings us together) that makes it possible to enjoy Thanksgiving without feeling like we’re missing out.

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