Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Wow, can you believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner?
Here's my own Gluten Free guide to have a great Thanksgiving.

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As we all know, the hardest part about being gluten free (whether with celiac disease or gluten intolerance) is social eating.  When I'm at home, I know what's in everything and how it was prepared.  Thanksgiving, the biggest social eating holiday ever could be a disaster...
or it could be delicious.  

Side tangent: what would it be like to be reckless for one day, or even one meal?  To just eat whatever and not have to think about it?  
Ok....moving on.

Use these simple steps and you can have a gluten free Thanksgiving not starving!

These tips have been perfected over the years, I'm not going to lie, my first few Thanksgivings were rough.  
A big revelation came one year to really embrace what the entire holiday was about.  I focused on being grateful to be with family and friends and grateful that there was so much food on the table that I could eat.  
This attitude helped me overcome the helplessness I felt as I passed by the stuffing and rolls.  Try it, it might be easy for some.  If you are in "mourning" about missing the old way of life I completely understand.  Just don't give in and don't cheat.  It's not worth it to feel sick or hurt your body.

Alright here we go:

1. Tell the host/hostess.  Let them know what you can and can't have.  The more upfront you are the less awkward it's going to be later.

2. Volunteer to bring items that normally contain gluten that you can't live without, such as a pie, green bean casserole, stuffing, or your own rolls....

3.  Decide what gluten-containing Thanksgiving foods you can't live without.  For me it's pie.  I have to have a big ol' slice of pie on Turkey Day.  So, I make sure to make at least one GF pie to share with everyone.

4. Find out who is making what and how they are preparing it.  Are they dusting the turkey bag with flour?  Are they stuffing the turkey?  Thickening the gravy with flour?  Simple changes can help you out a lot and not change the flavor or texture.

5.  If traveling, bring some extra flours with you.  Mix up the dry ingredients of a pie crust and place in a baggie.  The more prepared you are the easier it will be for everyone.

6.  Eating out for Thanksgiving?  Call the restaurant.  Let them know you are GF and what items you can or can't have.  Also look at their on-line menu.  Be informed about what foods you can/can't have to save some awkward moments when everyone is ordering and waiters are busy.

Ok, feeling overwhelmed?  Don't be.  
Here are some tips on what I do for each Thanksgiving food:

A must, right?
My first GF Thanksgiving, 9 years ago my parents had to order a free-range turkey for around $80.  Steep, I know. 
But lucky for us turkeys have become injected with different substances and many turkeys found at your grocery store are gluten free and will state that on the ingredients list.  
When preparing the turkey, remember to only use GF stuffing, or none at all and dust the turkey bag with GF mix or not at all.

Mashed Potatoes:
One of my favorites.
Mashed potatoes are gluten-free, especially if they are made from scratch.  
But, if you are using the boxed, instant potatoes be sure to carefully read the box.  There are some flavored types (garlic mashed potatoes, etc.) that have wheat flour in them.  
Read, read, read all labels.

Quick and easy fix.  Thicken the gravy with cornstarch or tapioca flour.
This might be one of the dishes that you could help with or bring to ensure that it's GF.

Obviously a huge no-no.
Now, I'm not a huge lover of stuffing, even in the gluten days.  So consequently I haven't tried that many recipes for stuffing.  I have made stuffing before and it came out really dry and crumbly.  
You can also experiment.  If any one finds a good recipe, let me know.
Remember cornbread contains gluten.  I have been asked if I could eat cornbread, but even though it is made with corn meal, there's still flour in it.  

Cranberry Sauce:
Gluten Free!
Open up a can and enjoy.

Oh yum.
And gluten free.  
I love candied yams, I know it takes the "healthiness" away, but oh man, these are good!
I like to get the canned yams, drain the juice. 
Then slice them in half.
Melt about 3-4 Tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.
Add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  
Dissolve sugar and add yams.
Coat yams with sauce and cook on low heat heat until caramelized and warm.

Sorry, outta luck unless you buy or make some of your own.  
Which wouldn't be that bad.  Rolls are a perfect example of something that you can bring!

Most of the time, salads are safe.
Green salads: can't go wrong with a big pile of leafy greens right?  Just be sure there isn't any croutons lurking throughout.  And be sure the dressing is GF.  You could ask the person bringing the salad to leave the croutons and dressing on the side.
Jello salad: Jello is GF.  It would just depend on what's mixed in.  Just ask!

Green Bean Casserole:
Can you believe that I've never actually had green bean casserole?
I know, weird right!
It was never a traditional food at our house and when I first heard about green bean casserole, someone else had made it with gluten-containing cream of chicken soup.
Since I've never made the actual casserole, you'll have to do some experimenting.
You can whip up a batch of the GF cream of chicken soup mix or you can buy GF cream of chicken soup made by Pacific Soups.

Dips/Cheese Balls
Always ask the maker what's inside.  Or read the label if store bought.
The main thing would be the wheat crackers being dipped and broken and dipped leaving behind crumbs of poisonous gluten.
Here's what I do.  Bring along some of my own GF crackers.  (Which ever ones you like).  Then, before it's been dipped into, or head for an edge that looks untouched, scoop as much as you are going to eat into a small bowl to save for yourself.  Or ask the person bringing the dip to save you out some in a different dish and you can enjoy as well.

Last, but not least.
And definitely my favorite part of Thanksgiving.
I could not live with a big slice of pumpkin pie.
I always end up making at least two pies for Thanksgiving.  Which is perfect so I can have two options.  I use this pie crust recipe and it always turns out flaky and nice.  People can usually not even guess it's gluten free.
If you need a cereal/graham style crust I love using the Gluten Free Chex crust.
This recipe is easy enough to use for any pie that you desire and handles well.
Looking for pie recipes?  Here are some of my favorites.

Good luck and hope everyone has a wonderful Gluten Free Thanksgiving!
Let me know if you have any questions.

Here's to Thanksgiving and not starving!


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