Thanksgiving is, in
the USA calendar of celebrations, the most important
event of the year. Many Americans think of
Thanksgiving as a wonderful time to celebrate
getting out of school for a long weekend, and eating
a great dinner; maybe they think it is the start of
the Christmas holiday season. It can mean many thing
to different people - it is a day of thanks, a day
of celebrating the country, a day of sharing between
cultures, and most importantly it is a day of
sharing food and companionship with your family.
Other countries and cultures
celebrate different holidays such as Christmas,
Diwali (in India and Nepal), Chinese New Year and
Ramadan, however they are all celebrations that
involve getting together with friends and family and
enjoying the “fruits” of the land. Of course, these
celebrations can be
wonderful social occasions but
can also be a nightmare for people who suffer a food
intolerance such as celiac or lactose intolerance.
How do you tell Aunt Mary that you cannot eat her
Thanksgiving turkey because she baked it in an oven
bag with flour!! Or even worse, not eat her pumpkin
These occasions can be very enjoyable – all they
need is a bit of prior planning and organization. It
is not as hard as you might think!! It is easier to
start with the big items – a gluten free turkey,
stuffing that is wheat free, gluten free pumpkin pie and of
course gluten free gravy. All of these are easily
achievable by the average cook, and you will be
surprised that no one will be able to tell the
difference – just a wonderful prepared meal that is
full of flavor.
Traditionally for Thanksgiving there is always the
table center piece of the “Thanksgiving Turkey”.
A fresh or frozen turkey does not contain gluten in
its natural state. Some turkeys have
been marinated to enhance the flavor of the skin and
meat. It is this marinade that may contain
gluten and some turkeys are injected with a broth that
is used to also enhance the flavor.
Read the label carefully to ensure that no
'additives' have been placed on or in the turkey.
Remember a turkey in its natural state is best – you
might be able to get an organic turkey, or a turkey
from a local farm. You can then make your own
marinade using gluten free sauces and quality herbs
such as sage, thyme and rosemary or go Latin with
cumin, chillies and lime.
Gluten free stuffing is easy – you
can buy these commercially or make your own, using
gluten free bread as the base, or crumbled up pieces
of gluten free cookies!!. There are many different
options and recipes out there – just get creative!!
If you are invited to other people's place for
dinner, may be you can suggest that you will bring
the turkey and that way you can ensure that the
turkey will be something you can confidently eat.
I eat a
"Thanksgiving Turkey" if the stuffing has gluten in
it? No, you can't. Even if you are sure it is a
gluten-free turkey, cooking it with stuffing that
contains gluten will contaminate it. The gluten in
the stuffing can permeate into the meat of the
turkey so even if you think you can just eat the
breast meat, it still could be contaminated.
Gravy is a must to
compliment a beautiful baked meal of turkey and
vegetables. There are many commercially made gluten
free gravies on the market or in health food shops.
Otherwise, you can use corn starch as a thickener
instead of the traditional wheat flour. You may find
that the texture is a little thinner than what you
are used to so if that is the case, you can add a little
potato starch or even some tapioca to thicken it up.
In many American households, macaroni
and cheese is a 'must' on the Thanksgiving table.
For a gluten-free Thanksgiving table, make the
macaroni and cheese with rice noodles instead of
wheat noodles. You may also be able to buy gluten
free macaroni. The cooking time for the rice noodles
may differ from wheat noodles so ensure you read the
label so that you do not under -cook your macaroni.
Once you smother those noodles in cheese, eggs,
milk, butter and more cheese, your guests will not
even notice that they are gluten free.
It is hard to imagine
Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie For pumpkin
pie, the biggest hurdle is making a pie crust that
is gluten free. You can use such substitutes as
gluten free flour, tapioca starch, potato starch,
sweet rice flour so there are plenty of options.
With the pumpkin custard filling the main thing to
remember is to use gluten free flour.
If you have an old family tradition recipe for
Grandma's pumpkin pie that contains gluten, then do
not worry!! If you are having visitors that are both
celiacs' and non-celiacs', then a suggestion is to
make your 'normal' gluten pumpkin pie but set aside
some of the pumpkin pie filling (as long as it is
gluten free) and bake it with no crust. Your celiac
guests will appreciate that treat with some whipped
cream or ice cream.
Poached pears or a beautifully prepared fruit
platter can make a lovely (and healthy!) alternative
to pie, especially when prepared with the finest and