For people who do a lot of cooking, eating gluten-free at home is not exceptionally hard. Truly, there are tons of options these days. Plus, I eat a whole lot less in the way of processed food than I used to. I do miss beer on tap, restaurant bread, great bagels and ravioli. I don’t miss the migraines at all.
- What about the holidays, when you’re trying to follow gluten-full family recipes?
- How do you substitute?
- Do you tell people they’re eating gluten-free, or not?
These are the dilemmas that I wrestle with as I prepare to cook a Thanksgiving meal for 10. Luckily, they’re all excited about the idea of a GF Turkey Day, but still a struggle that’s all too common in today’s environment of food allergens.
My three main bits of advice are:
- Start as early as you can.
- Experiment prior to the big day.
- Use products you trust.
Below are items I had to really think about for Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m including this list to give you an idea of what you might be up against when you start shopping. I’ve included the watch-list items in red. You’ll need to pay attention to those.
- Dessert: Apple, Pecan, Pumpkin pie (pie crust, Libby’s pumpkin filling is gluten-free, as is Carnation’s evaporated milk, or you can just use a “pie pumpkin” – many stores sell them).
- Turkey: Check out the rub if you use one, stuffing must be gluten-free.
- Cranberry Fluff: all fruit is GF, but my recipe also contains marshmallows.
- Stuffing: Contains croutons, bread in some form, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, cornbread and vegetables like celery and onions.
- Sweet potatoes: they’re gluten-free. BUT many families use marshmallows on top.
- Mashed potatoes: Naturally GF. If you stir in chicken broth, be sure it’s gluten-free.
- Green Bean casserole: you must watch both the cream of mushroom soup and the fried onions.
You also have to watch out for a lot of barbecue sauces and all regular soy sauce. They are likely to contain gluten. Everything else on your menu will be gluten-free: relish trays of vegetables, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, fruit.
What I found with the list above is that many required some looking up and advanced planning on my part. Like I said, the earlier you start the better.
Believe it or not, #7 is the hardest because if you LOVE green bean casserole, you have to figure out how to make it sans gluten. Here is a recipe if you want to make the fried onions yourself. Also, you must find a GF cream of mushroom soup you like.
I’ve been cooking with the Gluten Free Cafe cream of mushroom soup because I can order it from Amazon and have it delivered right to my house. However, the consistency of the Pacific Food Cream of Mushroom soup is much better. And it’s now available from Amazon and most Wal-Marts. Someone just told me the Progresso Cream of Mushroom is GF but I haven’t verified that personally.
If you use chicken broth in your recipes, you need to check your brand to be sure it’s gluten free. Many of the Swanson’s aren’t. I know for sure their beef broth is NOT. I use the 100% Natural Chicken Broth from Swanson’s because (a) it’s GF and (b) I can get it at Costco.
Stuffing wasn’t as hard to deal with as you might think. I can buy gluten-free croutons at the stores mentioned above, along with GF bread (Udi’s is my favorite).
Again, all of this can be shipped to you from Amazon but you’re running up against a time crunch at this point. But yes, you can get Udi’s from Amazon. :-) I believe their white bread will work best for stuffing.
Besides the green bean casserole, the items that gave me the most angst were the pies. I’m not worried about the ingredients, I’m worried about the crust. For the girl who always just rolled out the Pillsbury, making my own crust is a big deal. I’ve had the best luck flavor-wise with Pamela’s mix and with the pre-made crusts from Fabe’s.
Last but not least, here are the products I have found to be 100% reliable regarding my “watch list” above:
- Marshmallows: Jet-Puffed brand from Kraft – marshmallows are inherently GF, but many brands dust them with flour.
- Libby’s canned pumpkin: I’ve tried this and it works great.
- Evaporated Milk: Land o’ Lakes and Carnation/Nestle are both gluten-free.
- Eagle Brand condensed milk is gluten-free.
My stuffing also has cornbread mix and there are many options here too. I chose Bob’s Red Mill again because it’s reliable. You could also use cornmeal (which is GF) and then use gluten-free flour instead of regular flour.
Note: Piper Bayard swears you can substitute half GF Oat flour and half Almond Meal for the regular flour in any baking recipe and it will taste moist and yummy. :-)
Are you gluten free (if so, what are your tricks)? How would you feel about someone making your Thanksgiving dinner without gluten? Should they tell you or not tell you? What is your favorite thing to eat for Thanksgiving? Enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!
For my American friends… Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!! I’m not sure if I’ll post again this week, so I wanted to take a moment to tell you how thankful I am for your fun and your friendship. I love a gorgeous holiday table, so please DO share your pictures with me on Twitter or Facebook!