As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, if you have diagnosed gluten intolerance or celiac disease in your family, you now have another thing to think about. It is very much possible, though, to have a delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner, even if you are doing a big family event. The key to taking the stress out of the situation is to plan ahead.
First Rule – Do What You Have To, No Guilt
Family gatherings often come with a lot of expectations and obligations, but try to remember that the safety and well-being of your child is at stake. You can have a gluten-free or celiac-safe Thanksgiving and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Your Great Aunt Rose won’t be offended that you replace her traditional stuffing with gluten-free ingredients, or if she is just gently remind her of your child’s illness and then don’t worry about it again.
Bring Gluten-Free Food and Talk to the Host
If you are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, offer to bring a couple of dishes. As long as you bring one or two dishes, you know your child will have something safe to eat. It also makes sense to talk to the host of the dinner, because there are likely to be other dishes that are gluten-free, but you want to confirm it. For instance, potatoes are gluten-free, and there aren’t any typically gluten-based ingredients that go into mashed potatoes.
When Hosting, Go Totally Gluten-Free
If Thanksgiving is at your house, you get to make the rules, so why not go totally gluten-free? Hosting the dinner means you get greater control, but it also means doing more work so you’ll need more time to plan, shop, prep and make food. Get your kids involved in helping to lighten your load and to teach them some valuable lessons. Here are some ideas for gluten-free Thanksgiving dishes you can serve:
- Turkey. What is Thanksgiving without turkey? As long as you get a fresh, unseasoned and unflavored turkey, you control what goes into it and you can keep it gluten-free. Watch out for any included gravy packets, which often have gluten.
- Stuffing. The stuffing can be safe if you use gluten-free bread. Make it easy by getting a gluten-free stuffing mix. They’re available in most grocery stores. Or, for something more interesting, make a wild rice stuffing.
- Mashed potatoes. Potatoes have no gluten, and making delicious mashed potatoes doesn’t have to be complicated. Use a little butter, milk and salt, and you’re good to go.
- Sweet potatoes and squash. Embrace these nutritious seasonal vegetables because they are gluten-free, and there are plenty of recipes for casseroles and other dishes that use no gluten ingredients.
- Gravy. This one seems tricky at first because the traditional way to make gravy is with a roux, a mix of flour and butter. But the substitution is easy. Use corn starch instead of flour to thicken your turkey drippings.
- Rolls. You can make or buy gluten-free rolls, but they’re not likely to be as good as the real thing. Who needs rolls anyway? Just make more mashed potatoes.
- Roasted vegetables. Roast any vegetable and it will taste better. This is a simple way to add more vegetables to the meal and there is no need for gluten. Flavor with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.
- Dessert. Pumpkin pie can be gluten free if you find or make the right crust. You should find gluten-free premade crust at a specialty store, or you can think outside the box. How about a pumpkin mousse or pudding?
A gluten-free Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be any less delicious than the traditional meal. In fact, it could be even better as you discover new recipes to replace the old standards. As long as you plan ahead, the big day can be both safe and stress-free.