The holiday season is upon us. Ideally, Thanksgiving is a time to slow down and enjoy time with family before we head into the frenzied rush of the winter holidays. But – as with any holiday that centers around food – it can also cause quite a bit of stress for the gluten intolerant. By taking the time to do a little research and advance prep work, you can reduce some of this stress and make food that pleases all the guests at your Thanksgiving table.
Last year I shared some of my tried and true tips and recipes for a gluten-free Thanksgiving. I have since added even more tips and tricks to my arsenal. Think of this as a supplement, the expanded edition. The bonus material on the DVD, so to speak.
The turkey: As always, read ingredient labels carefully. I prefer fresh, unbrined turkeys because that way I can be certain that the ingredients I use to prepare it are gluten-free. Unfortunately for you vegetarians out there, Tofurkey – a popular meat-free turkey substitute (honestly, typing that made me gag a little but to each her own) – is NOT gluten-free and should be avoided. Have an extra serving of veggies. Or pie. (We’ll get to that.)
That Green Bean Thing (aka green bean casserole): Last year I shared my favorite green bean casserole recipe from Claire Robinson. I still stand by this recipe but if you are married to the traditional green bean casserole that calls for condensed cream of mushroom soup, I understand. Pacific Natural Foods has a line of condensed soups that are gluten-free. I have purchased these at my local Whole Foods and Target stores. (Be sure to sign up on Pacific’s website to receive a $1-off coupon!) You will have to sacrifice the french fried onion topping but toasted (gluten-free!) corn flakes or caramelized shallots are acceptable substitutes.
Stuffing: I’m intrigued by this Herbed Quinoa and Red Rice stuffing from Williams-Sonoma. Quinoa is getting a lot of buzz right now for being gluten-free , high in protein, and rich in amino acids.
Potatoes: Whether you prefer mashed or the sweet variety, most potato recipes call for butter, milk or cream, and a little salt and pepper (or brown sugar/maple syrup if you go with candied sweet potatoes). It’s super easy to keep these gluten-free! If you’re making mashed potatoes from a box, remember read all labels carefully!
Other sides: I have quite a bit of butternut squash, courtesy of my CSA box. I plan to cut it into cubes, toss with salt and pepper and olive oil, and roast it in the oven. I’ll make cornbread using a gluten-free mix like Bob’s Red Mill.
Dessert: Many gluten-free bakeries are now accepting orders for Thanksgiving pies. East Bay celiacs can place orders with Miglets, in Danville. (925.831.9016) If you don’t live near a gluten-free bakery, many Whole Foods stores sell pre-made pies or pie crusts. I make my pies from scratch using Pamela’s baking mixes and their recipes. Top your pie with a gluten-free vanilla ice cream like Haagen-Dazs Five.
Refreshments: I’m not a big drinker but I can appreciate that, for some people, Thanksgiving isn’t complete unless you get to kick back on the couch to watch football and drink a cold beer. Stores like Whole Foods and BevMo carry small selections of gluten-free beer.
The one thing I want to stress is that proper planning is key. Some gluten-free products, like the condensed soups and beer, are a little more difficult to locate than their traditional counterparts. You don’t want to be running around all over town looking for these items the day before Thanksgiving. Plan ahead and use the Internet as a resource. If this is your first gluten-free Thanksgiving, don’t be afraid to ask a gluten-free friend for tips (or give me a shoutout on Twitter). Most celiacs are happy to help and we love to talk about our experiences. Above all, enjoy your gluten-free Thanksgiving.