Thanksgiving is a delicious holiday. A holiday filled with warmth, laughter, a bountiful table, and apple pie. Wait, and pumpkin pie. Oh yeah, and stuffing. Gravy. And tender rolls you pull apart. You get the gist. Lots of wheat and lots of gluten.
My first gluten-free Thanksgiving, I was determined to recreate all of the traditional standard dishes in a gluten-free, allergen-free form. And I did. It took me several weeks to pull it all together and at the end I made Martha Stewart look like Rachael Ray. I baked my own vegan, gluten-free bread (hard, but not impossible). I toasted the croutons for my own stuffing. I found a recipe for rolls, and I mastered gluten-free gravy. Phew!
Here’s what I learned from the experience:
A gluten-free Thanksgiving isn’t the same.
It’s better because you discover new dishes, new loves, and new traditions. It’s better because without going gluten-free you would have never known that wild rice makes a perfect stuffing. It’s better because you aren’t sick afterwards. You enjoy every bite and then you let your body rest.
If, like me, you are determined to try to re-create tradition this year then I have some advice. Let go of your expectation that everything should taste exactly the same. It won’t and that’s okay. It’s going to taste just like it’s supposed to – and that’s what we want from our food.
So here’s where to start preparing:
1) The Turkey: Let’s talk turkey, shall we? Not all turkeys are gluten-free. Many frozen-turkeys are processed with pre-injected gluten-filled basting to keep them moist. The Bozeman community food co-op sells fresh Hutterite turkeys and … that are gluten-free. Read your labels. Buy fresh. Buy organic. Buy free range. Also, consider brining your turkey for 24-hours in a salty herb solution to make it really tender and juicy. Martha Stewart is my source for a great brine recipe.
2) The Stuffing: Your turkey is not gluten-free if you stuff it with bread made from wheat, or spelt, or barley, or rye. If you’re hosting someone with celiac or a gluten allergy then they will not be able to eat the meat if there is gluten in the stuffing. So, make a separate side of stuffing on the stove or stuff your turkey with a gluten-free bread. For those of you who want to go gourmet, Karina Allrich has a beautiful gluten-free corn-bread stuffing recipe or try this wild-rice stuffing from the New York Times.
3) The Gravy: It’s really quite simple to make gluten-free, dairy-free gravy. Instead of adding milk and wheat flour to the drippings, substitute So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk (it really doesn’t taste much like coconut) for cow’s milk, and corn starch, arrowroot starch, or potato starch for wheat flour. Here’s a lovely thyme and pear gravy recipe from Living Without Magazine that will do the trick.
4) Mashed Potatoes: Great mashed potatoes can be achieved without milk and butter! Again, substitute coconut milk for cow’s milk and olive oil or Earth Balance vegan spread for butter and whip them up to your heart’s content. Try adding some garlic and peeled sunchokes to your pot of boiling potatoes for a more flavorful version.
5) Sweet Potatoes: Do you remember the candied sweet potatoes with browned marshmallows on top? Lovely, eh? Make a healthier version with Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (also gluten-free) and use maple syrup instead of brown sugar to sweeten.
6) Cranberry Sauce: It’s very simple to make homemade cranberry sauce. Use whole cranberries, add water, sugar, and boil. For those of you who can’t tolerate cane sugar, substitute coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic level, and stevia extract for sweetness. Here’s a lovely cranberry sauce recipe with ginger from Sunset Magazine.
7) Rolls: The co-op offers a selection of fresh and frozen gluten-free breads, or make your very own delectable rolls from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef’s kitchen.
7) Pies: Pie crust made with brown rice flour can get too thick and gummy and mask the taste of the filling. Try this gluten-free pie crust recipe from Allergic Living or if no one is allergic to almonds use a simple grain-free nut flour pie crust from Elena’s Pantry. You can also make a galette (pie without the top crust) instead. Here’s a beautiful apple pie galette recipe from Zest Bakery.
Janelle Holden is the president and founder of The Gluten Free Life Coach, a company dedicated to helping people with celiac disease and food allergies love their lives and discover their new favorite foods. Contact her today to schedule a complimentary A-Ha Moment Session or find her on facebook to connect.