A gluten-free Thanksgiving, traditional dish swap
GF TG? What would a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast look like?
Converting your Thanksgiving dinner into a gluten-free meal is a very manageable task if you know what to look for. Rolls, casserole, gravy, pie and stuffing are several recipes/dishes that will need to be modified.
You are having a gluten-free (GF) Thanksgiving! Whether this is because one of your guests has celiac disease (gluten allergy) or is gluten sensitive or intolerant or because you are experimenting with a gluten-free lifestyle for your own health journey, do not be daunted by this undertaking. Swapping recipes to make them gluten-free has only gotten easier as more people are following this way of eating. Many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes are naturally gluten-free – turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn and gravy are all gluten-free if made from scratch. The catch is if you are buying products that are pre-prepared. Gravy and cranberry sauce are classic examples of hidden sources of gluten. Gluten is added as a thickening agent to lots of foods so these dishes, when store-bought, may contain hidden gluten.
The good news is that lots of grocery chains are offering gluten-free prepared foods or are better are labelling when foods are gluten-free. Make sure to read the labels especially if you have someone with a gluten allergy coming to dinner. For the following dish swaps – green bean casserole, stuffing, pumpkin pie and dinner rolls, you can decide if you want to make each item from scratch or search for pre-made GF items. This decision depends on how much time and energy you have to put into making your Thanksgiving dinner, how many other dishes you are making from scratch, how much help you have, how large your kitchen/oven is and how confident you are cooking new recipes. Perhaps try out a new recipe before Thanksgiving to make sure it turns out okay. Gluten-free swaps will usually have a slightly different texture which may affect the final dish.
- Gluten-free stuffing
- This recipe can be a very simple swap. It mostly depends on if you like making stuffing from scratch or if you buy stuffing mix. Making from scratch means starting with gluten-free bread and then proceeding as usual. If you are buying stuffing mix, you can usually find a corn-bread based mix that will be labelled gluten-free. Then cook as directed.
- Gluten-free pumpkin pie
- This has to do with buying a gluten-free pie crust. That is typically the easiest way to make this swap and those can usually be found in the baking aisle or possibly in the frozen section. Certain GF items are widely available and some may need to be sought out in a natural grocery store like Whole Foods. Major chains like Jewel, Aldi, Mariano’s and Kroger have all begun to carry more gluten-free options as more people are seeking this option.
- Most pumpkin pie fillings are naturally gluten free but be sure to read the label just in case. Gluten can be added as a filler or thickening agent.
- Gluten-free green bean casserole
- This one is a very doable swap but does require a few special ingredients. First, you need to look for gluten-free fried onions or make your own. The same goes for gluten-free cream of mushroom soup. Gluten is hidden in all sorts of places!
- Once again you have to weigh how much time and energy you have to prepare your Thanksgiving feast. This is a classic TG dish in my family so we are not likely to go without it. If you are preparing everything else, consider having one of your guests bring this dish (someone who is good at GF cooking!)
- The safest way to go is to make everything from scratch because then you can be certain of all ingredients. But making homemade cream of mushroom soup and fried onions and then assembling the dish would be time-consuming. With careful attention to ingredient labels, you can find GF substitute items and still enjoy this Thanksgiving staple.
- Gluten-free dinner rolls
- These are generally pretty easy to find as either a ready-to-bake dough, already baked bread or boxed mix. You can also utilize a family cornbread recipe instead of flour-based rolls.
- If you decide to make gluten-free rolls from scratch, make sure to look up a reliable GF recipe and pick out good GF flour. Do a trial run to make sure the texture and consistency are right. GF flours are sometimes thinner and do not bake quite the same as regular flour so trying out a recipe first is always recommended. The good news is there are lots of specialty GF flours and they are getting much easier to find in regular grocery stores.
If you are planning a gluten-free Thanksgiving this year, rest assured that it is totally doable! It will require some additional forethought and planning especially if you are someone who likes to make everything from scratch or use old family recipes. If this change is for a particular guest, enlist their help in finding good products that are certified gluten-free. If you do not want to change up the entire feast, consider asking your GF guests what the most important TG dishes are for them. Perhaps you could make a traditional green bean casserole but buy a GF pumpkin pie as it is their favorite dish. You can still enjoy all the classics with a little extra planning.