Thanksgiving is celebrated by sitting around the family table with your extended family eating a huge, calorie laden dinner. It’s easy to eat until you’re bloated and too full/ tired to function but it’s a huge pain when you’re on a gluten free or any other restricted diet and need to avoid getting sick. You see the sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie and stuffing and already know you can’t eat those but what are your alternatives? Are there any other foods to watch out for?
The turkey (or ham) is the default with Thanksgiving. Make sure the seasoning is safe. If they use anything other than normal herbs and spices, it could have hidden gluten and not be safe. The gravy is another big no- unless you make it specifically yourself, you cannot be sure what it’s thickened with and it’s best to avoid.
The best ways to be safe are to make sure your turkey has no skin and no topping but spices. Keep away from gravy, or take some broth before it’s made into gravy and add your own ingredients to thicken it.
Stay away from stuffing, unless you get a gluten free bread or stuffing mix and make it your own. Stuffing is bread, so it’s obvious that it will not be safe traditionally.
Stick with normal veggies. You can ask about the ingredients in the sweet potato pie and there is a decent chance it’s safe, but is it worth the risk? To know you’re safe, stick with green beans, spinach or any other side that contains no additives. If that sweet potato pie only contains sweet potatoes, brown sugar, marshmallows and a few other items they can easily list (or show you) it’s safe. (Yes, sweet potato pie is my favorite dish)
Stuffing- gluten free version
Stuffing isn’t hard- take your favorite gluten free bread and tear it up, add it to broth (or gluten free gravy) and let it soak, then toss it with the celery, onions and anything else you use and wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it the way you normally bake your stuffing.
They also have gluten free stuffing mixes for people who don’t cook it totally from scratch- located in the gluten free section of the local grocer.
Rolls are another obvious issue- they are nothing but flour but there are gluten free options out there, more than other subs. You can find frozen gluten free rolls, normal rolls in the bread aisle and there are countless recipes out there for gluten free rolls, so you have many options. My personal favorite is to take a normal hot roll recipe and convert it- they taste almost the same and are a tried and true recipe.
I think it’s safe to assume, the pumpkin pie is one of most peoples’ favorites. The pumpkin itself is fine- pumpkin, milk (or milk sub), cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/whatever other spices you use, sugar, eggs- all of that is gluten free. You can bake it all in a pan to make a pumpkin pie pudding type of dish or you can head to the local Kroger (it’s the only store around here that sells them) and pick up an extra gluten free frozen pie shell. (Wholly Wholesome makes a really good crust- but pay attention to the label because some of their crusts are whole grain- meaning wheat and they are usually together in the frozen coolers).
There are plenty of recipes out there to make gluten free pecan pie and I’m not sure, besides the crust how much needs to be avoided.
Use your other Wholly Wholesome pie shell and find one of the many pecan pie recipes and test it out
It may be a bit more time consuming on your end and you may end up offending family members by your “diet choices” but it is very possible to be included in the big family Thanksgiving meal while staying safe and not getting sick.
If this is your first year, it will be more challenging but just remember- your body won’t care if your aunt was offended by you not wolfing down her rolls. Your body won’t care that you had a moment of weakness and took a few bites of that pie or stuffing- your body will mind that you just put an ingredient in it that it cannot tolerate and your comfort is more important than someone’s feelings. If it’s store bought, always look for the gluten free label and if you’re in doubt, keep away.