The holiday season is finally here. I love this time of year because it encourages people to feel obligated to make room in their busy schedules for friends and family. 🙂 All the food, traditions and memories made are such a blessing. However, in doing research for a safe Thanksgiving for my daughter, it has been reinforced to me all the surprising places gluten hides. Did you know that gluten is often on hams and turkeys? It’s in the gravy, the stuffing, the pie crusts, the cookies, many dips and sauces…it’s in almost everything! Then, on top of that, there’s cross contamination from gluten containing foods being prepared in the same dishes, pots and pans and kitchen as gluten free foods. Gluten is everywhere.
The question now becomes, how do I keep myself/family/children/friends safe? I am going to share with you gluten free options and substitutions to help keep you from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I have a fantastic gluten free stuffing recipe that has been in our family for the past three years. Also a wonderful apple-cranberry crumble as a healthier and gluten friendly dessert. A host of healthy sides (we do still need to fit into our jeans), along with the names of safe brands of turkey and hams.
Let’s start with the main dish, the meat. Often times turkeys are injected with broth to help keep them moist. Broth usually has wheat in it. The label will say broth, it may not tell you what is in the broth. If a turkey is preseasoned, the seasonings often include wheat or other gluten containing product. Hams have similar processing and the glazes often have gluten containing ingredients in them. There are two gluten free brands of turkeys I could find: Shelton’s Brand and Norbest. Other’s had gravies that had gluten or were packaged in facilities that contained gluten and could be cross contaminated or had broth. If you know a local farmer, that might be helpful if these brands are not sold in your area. Gluten free Ham producers include: Beeler’s Boar’s Head, Deitz & Watson, and Jones Dairy Farm. You might find other brands that do not have as much of an online presence by going to specialty stores like Whole Foods or AJ’s. There are many gluten free recipes online, Google and Pinterest are your best friends.
Let’s talk gravy. Wheat flour is often used as a thickener for gravies. Instead of flour, try arrowroot powder or cornstarch. If you are cooking in a kitchen not your own or have multiple chefs, make sure you are using your own pots and pans. This is so you know there won’t be any contamination from using others pots and pans that they have ever, even once, cooked gluten containing dishes in. The last thing you want is someone to be in horrible pain after dinner is over. Be careful if you decide to use boxed mashed potatoes and the like as well. Read labels carefully. When in doubt, make it yourself.
Sauces, Dips, Toppings, and Glazes. Cranberry sauce is often gluten free. However, please read all labels. If it isn’t listed on the ingredients, check to see if it says that it “might contain” wheat or was made in a facility that also contains a gluten-containing grain including wheat, barley, and rye. The same goes for any and all dips, toppings, and glazes. When in doubt, make it yourself. I know there is already so much to make from scratch, however, it is worth the extra effort. Not only will it taste so much better than anything prepackaged, you know it is safe. That peace of mind goes a long way.
Desserts. Specifically pies. My son is demanding pumpkin pie already. I am not a pumpkin pie fan, but I do love some apple pie. To keep tradition and keep people happy, you can buy pre-made gluten-free pie crusts in the freezer section of many health food stores, or, you can make it yourself. There are tons of recipes out there. Often times…they aren’t so good. One recipe I have found that tastes well and has good texture is Bob’s Red Mill’s recipe. I do recommend using butter or coconut oil instead of margarine. Find out why here.
My favorite classic Thanksgiving dish is stuffing. Gluten free bread just is not the same. I have found that most of the time it becomes a pile of goo. My mom created this absolutely delicious stuffing recipe our first gluten free Thanksgiving. It’s been a staple for every holiday meal since. We are happy to share it with you, from our family to yours.
Mitchell Family’s Gluten-Free Stuffing
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2.5 cups chicken broth
- 1 lbs sage breakfast sausage
- 1 head of celery
- 1 yellow onion
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 tsp garlic salt
- 6-8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Put chicken broth in medium saucepan and add wild rice. Cook until tender.
- In large skillet toast pine nuts until golden. Remove from skillet. Add sausage to skillet and brown, then saute onion, celery and mushrooms with sausage.
- Mix all ingredients together and place into a lightly sprayed 13X 9 baking pan. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes.
I’m also excited to share with you my Gluten Free Apple-Cranberry Crumble. It takes advantage of what is in season now, is healthy yet tastes like you should feel guilty. That’s my favorite kind of dessert.
Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Crumble
- 5 apples sliced, skin optional
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 10 dates, chopped
- 3/4 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
- ⅓ cup butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp, plus 1 tsp cinnamon (divided)
- Set oven to 350 degrees.
- In an 9×9 pan, lightly grease the inside with butter. Slice your apples into thin slices and toss into the pan. Add in cranberries, dates and 2 tsp cinnamon, then mix.
- In a separate bowl, mix oats, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon well. Then add in melted butter. Mix well again. Then sprinkle evenly on top of your fruit.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool before eating.
A few healthy side dish ideas:
- Spinach salad with 1 cup pomegranate seeds, ½ cup crumbled herbed goat cheese, ⅓ cup toasted almond slivers with a poppy seed dressing.
- Roasted Acorn Squash and Brussel Sprouts
- Steamed Green Beans with butter