A gluten-free Thanksgiving, traditional dish swap • She Is You

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Dr. Jessica Keating
Owner & Physician , Willow Clinic of Natural Medicine
Jessica Lodal Keating graduated with her doctorate in chiropractic medicine from National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) in Lombard, IL in December of 2016. She graduated summa cum laude and salutatorian of her class. She completed a primary care internship at the in-house clinic in the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in downtown Chicago. There she was able to provide natural approaches to health and wellness to an under-served population. She also led efforts to solicit supplement donations from local doctors in order to provide these supplements to patients free of charge. During her time at NUHS, Dr. Keating also studied traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and became certified to perform acupuncture, moxabustion and fire cupping. She uses the wisdom of eastern medicine to complement her holistic approach to assessing each individual patient and treating the whole person. She participated in various other seminars and trainings over the course of her studies including MPI’s full-spine adjusting seminar and Apex’s Fundamentals of Functional Blood Chemistry. Dr. Keating also completed her Doctorate of Naturopathic medicine in 2018, graduating valedictorian and summa cum laude. Dr. Keating has worked in several natural primary care offices in the greater Chicagoland area. She is also a full-time naturopathic clinician at National University of Health Sciences. There she is able to help shape the next generation of naturopathic doctors. She has a home-call practice where she treats patients in the comfort of their own homes all around Chicagoland. Dr. Keating loves balancing private practice with teaching and clinical supervision. Dr. Jessica Keating received her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon before deciding to attend NUHS. After her undergrad degree, she grew frustrated with the field of political science and sought a new career path. Her own health had been dramatically improved through diet, yoga and herbal medicine. Because of these experiences, she decided to deepen her understanding of natural medicine by pursuing a higher degree. Dr. Keating remains committed to her own health journey on a personal and professional level. She aims to help others thrive and maintain optimal health by guiding them down the same path and educating her patients by empowering them to take their health into their own hands. Dr. Keating practices holistic, natural primary care. She treats GI conditions, autoimmune disorders, women’s health, sleep issues, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, back pain as well as working with patients on weight loss and general wellness promotion. She treats pediatric, adult and geriatric patients using diet, lifestyle modification, herbal medicine, physical medicine and acupuncture. In her free time, Dr. Keating loves reading, biking, cooking and playing with her cats. Dr. Keating also enjoys yoga, tennis, rollerblading, going to the movies and travelling with her husband. She has been to 28 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America.
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