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  • Writer's pictureKatie Miller

How to Host a Gluten Free Thanksgiving

For many people, the holidays are a time of spending time with family and friends, spreading joy and giving gifts. Another key part of the holidays is eating, which can be especially difficult with dietary restrictions. This time of year can easily be one of the most stressful for those of us with allergies, and especially for those of us who follow a gluten free diet. But, by educating those who may not know and making sure you feel safe where you’re eating, it is completely possible to still enjoy the holidays!


In this blog post, I will be specifically discussing Thanksgiving since it’s approaching just next week. There are many ways to make your Thanksgiving meal to be gluten free friendly without losing your favorite dishes. Read below for my top tips and tricks for hosting a gluten free Thanksgiving!


Turkey

Objectively the star of the show (although I personally prefer ham), turkey by itself is naturally gluten free. But, be sure what you put inside the turkey, if you choose to stuff it, is also

gluten free. Many families choose to put stuffing in their turkey, but unfortunately even if someone with a gluten allergy eats a piece of turkey from the outside layer, it is still cross contaminated. The moisture from the bread in the stuffing inside the turkey seeps through the entire turkey, making the entire thing unsafe for those who follow a gluten free diet. Another alternative if you don’t want to use gluten free stuffing is vegetables!


Gravy

If you’re eating turkey, it’s likely that you’re planning to have mashed potatoes and gravy as well. Mashed potatoes are typically naturally gluten free, so just make sure there is no additional thickener and you’re all set there. Gravy, on the other hand, needs to be double and triple checked to ensure that it's gluten free. A lot of the time, gravy is not naturally gluten free due to flour being used as a thickener. If you have a favorite recipe, you can still use a thickener. Just use cornstarch and water to make a slurry and thicken your gravy that way. My favorite gluten free gravy options to use for Thanksgiving all come from the brand McCormick, who makes various types of gravy packets with a green gluten free label on them, or cartons of gravy that are marked as gluten free.


Macaroni and Cheese

Some families absolutely love macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving, while others believe it has no place on the table. Regardless, these tips for gluten free mac and cheese can be used all year round! We’ll start with the pasta. My personal favorite pasta brand for mac and cheese is Jovial. In my experience, it doesn’t fall apart nearly as quickly, especially when reheating it. They have a variety of shapes, and most non-gluten free people in my life can barely taste the difference between Jovial and regular pasta. As for the cheese sauce, the only thing you need to keep an eye out for in recipes is flour used as a thickener. In this case, you just need to substitute your favorite gluten free flour for the regular flour. My favorite gluten free flour for recipes is Bob Red Mill’s 1:1 Baking Flour.


Green Bean Casserole

One of my favorite dishes for Thanksgiving is green bean casserole! This recipe requires a few more substitutions compared to the previous ones, but they are super simple and require very little effort. For the recipe my family uses for green bean casserole, it calls for green beans, cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup, 2% milk, soy sauce and French fried

onions. Of course, green beans and 2% milk are gluten free, so those ingredients are completely safe for your gluten free feast. For cream of chicken soup, I recommend either the Pacific brand or Campbell’s gluten free Cream of Chicken (which is new this season and an absolute game changer!!) Soy sauce is not naturally gluten free, so you can either omit it from the recipe or buy a small bottle of gluten free soy sauce. A few different brands sell French fried onions, but my favorites are either 365 (the Whole Foods brand) or Golden Farms. Most grocery stores will typically have at least one option for French fried onions in their gluten free aisle.


Dinner Rolls

Another staple of Thanksgiving dinner for me is dinner rolls. The warm bread basket being passed around the table is definitely missed for me over the holidays, but I have found a few solid alternatives. The best that I have found are Ener-G Rolls, which I have had multiple times in restaurants and on Disney Cruises! I also am a huge fan of Schär croissants. Even though they’re not a direct replacement for dinner rolls, they still are buttery and soft, and they hit the spot every time!


Sweet Treats

If you know me personally, you know no day is complete without a sweet treat. So, obviously a holiday is no exception. Every Thanksgiving morning, I like to make gluten free monkey bread to eat while we’re switching channels between The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

and The Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s soft, sweet and you can barely tell that it’s gluten free! In many households, pies are the staple for after dinner. My family isn’t a huge pie-loving family, so we tend to opt for other desserts! My favorite is pumpkin log, which if you’re unfamiliar, is a pumpkin cake and cream cheese frosting rolled up like a log! It’s super easy to transition to be gluten free, and you can barely tell the difference because the canned pumpkin makes the cake super moist.



There you have it! My best tips and tricks to make a gluten free Thanksgiving feast! My biggest recommendation is to feel comfortable during the holidays. If you’re heading to someone else’s house for the day, feel free to bring your own food or a few sides so you know you’ll be able to at least eat a few dishes there. It’s better to bring your own food and feel comfortable and safe rather than risking it at a social event. Have a happy and safe (from cross contamination) Thanksgiving!


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