Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips

Sweet Potato Fries 2, originally uploaded by A Gluten Free Guide.

Staying sane during the holidays is a challenge even without a gluten-free diet to worry about. As now is the time that many people are trying to figure out the best way to tackle Thanksgiving, here are a few of the best strategies and recipes for creating a delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving feast.

I was diagnosed shortly before Thanksgiving three years ago. I remember how incredibly overwhelmed and confused I was. Many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes are full of gluten, but after three years of gluten-free living, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to fix an entire meal free of gluten that’s just as delicious as the original version. Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes and tips for surviving with your sanity intact.

1. Turkey – first of all make sure that the Turkey you get is gluten-free. Some turkeys are injected with a broth or TVP that contains gluten. Check the ingredients or call to be sure. And if you haven’t ever tried brining a turkey, I highly recommend it. I tried it two years ago for the first time and was not disappointed. To speed up cooking some recommend using a microwave to “parcook” your bird then finish it in the oven. I can’t speak from experience here, but let me know if any of you try it. Others recommend a separate roaster to free up the oven for side dishes. (Also, don’t forget that it can take a few days for a frozen turkey to defrost in your refrigerator)

2. Stuffing – After two years of unsuccessful attempts, I made two versions of GREAT gluten-free stuffing last year: a classic stuffing with mushrooms and onions and a cornbread stuffing with cranberries and Italian parsley. Try taking your family’s recipe and make it with gluten-free bread, most likely it will be just as good as the original version. Or in lieu of a gluten-free bread stuffing, a mushroom rice stuffing would make a great alternative.While you can use a classic gluten-free stuffing recipe to stuff your turkey, I actually found stuffing the turkey with fresh herbs and citrus fruit gives the meat better flavor and the final result is more moist.

3. Gravy – Shauna shows how easy it can be to make a gluten-free gravy using one of the many gluten-free flours safe for Celiacs. If you are too tired to even attempt that, you can use a gluten-free gravy mix like those made by Road’s End Organic.

4. Rolls – I have yet to find a classic gluten-free roll recipe that completely lives up to the gluten-version. But the chebe cheese rolls I made at last year's gathering were a huge hit. Or make this gluten-free almond bread and serve warm and sliced, instead of rolls.

5. Green-bean casserole – I mourned the loss of green bean casserole the first year I was diagnosed with Celiac. After that first year I set out to make my own gluten-free version. Using a recipe from Jen on Delphi forums, I used Imagine brand portabello mushroom soup as the base, sautéed fresh mushrooms and Thai Import gluten-free fried onions as the topping. It was better than anything I made with condensed cream of mushroom soup. If you don’t want to order the Thai Import fried onions, try some gluten-free potato chips or Funyuns crumbled on top as a topping.

6. Dessert – I made my gluten-free pumpkin pie last year with Gluten-Free Pantry Pie Crust mix. The gluten-free cheesecake I prepared with Bette Hagman’s Nut Crust Supreme. While my Mom would consider it sacrilegious to use a pre-made pie crust, the Whole Foods near me now carries TWO different versions of frozen gluten-free pie crusts. I can't vouch for them since I haven't used them, but I am amazed at how many new products are available each year. If you want to avoid crust all together, you can try Julie's tip from Delphi Forum to bake your pumpkin pie filling in an oblong cake pan by itself. It's still delicious, lower in calories, and completely gluten-free.

7. Remember the Reason for the Holiday - Bobbie on the Delphi Forums – to whom I will always be grateful for the classic gluten-free stuffing recipe offers this incredible advice:
“The best tip I have is for people to keep it simple and to relax. Thanksgiving is a time for A) thanking God for all we have and B) sharing time with people we cherish. If your house isn't spotless--so what? With all those people there, who's gonna notice, and you're only going to have to clean up again afterwards. Don't try to dazzle folk with fancy food--you'll be too busy and harried to enjoy the presence of your friends and family.

As far as Celiac Disease--if it's at your house, it's your party. Make it all GF if that's best for you. If it's at someone else's house, you'll have to go with the flow. If they're willing to adapt, thank them and enjoy. If they're not, make sure you bring or cook food that's every bit as good as what everyone else has and enjoy.

And never forget that the whole purpose of Thanksgiving is to be grateful. Take some time to think about everything there is in your life that is good and beautiful and wonderful--beginning with every breath you take.”

I couldn’t have said it any better. Finally, here are two new recipes to add to your gluten-free arsenal. The holidays tend to be filled with heavy and sometime rather unhealthy dishes. These two Thanksgiving sides are naturally gluten-free, on the lighter side, but rich in flavor.

Sweet Potato Fries, originally uploaded by A Gluten Free Guide.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Lime and Cilantro (from Eat Food Nutrition)
Serves 4

2 medium sweet potatoes
Nonstick cooking spray oil
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime zest

Preheat oven to 475 F
Scrub potatoes (do not peel), and cut into even wedges or thick strips, about 1/2-inch thick
Lightly spray oil across a large baking sheet; be sure to cover entire surface area. Arrange the potato sticks in a single layer on the baking sheet. Lightly spray a small amount of additional oil across the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, Remove from oven, and flip over each fry with tongs. Continue baking for an additional 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer onto paper towels to drain briefly. Transfer fries to a bowl, and toss with lime and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Corn and Cranberry Succotash (from Eat Food Nutrition)
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced sweet potato
3 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
3 cups cooked corn (roasted, boiled, or thawed frozen corn)
1 cup frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup gf vegetable stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add sweet potato and sauté until potatoes start to lightly brown and soften about 7 minutes.

Stir in edamame, corn and cranberries; sauté for another 2-4 minutes. Add stock, and continue cooking until most of the stock is asorbed and cranberries have softened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in sage right before serving.

For more gluten-free thanksgiving recipes, Ms. GF Bay, provides another wonderful roundup.


Lynn Barry said...

Great ideas...all are coming here so thanks for the great SAFE tips. HUGS

Anastacia said...

Thank you for posting this. I came here via search because I'm finally going to accept my need for eating GF. I plan to make the cilantro/lime fries tonight, but looking at the recipe I found that there's no mention of the lime anywhere. I'd be so happy to find out! Thanks in advance!

stacy AT jurgennation DOT com

Anastacia said...

Ugh. I apologize. I meant to ask about the lime in terms of preparation. Zest, juice, lime wedges?

As you can see, I am NOT a cook. I'm getting there. Thanks again.

Catherine said...

Hi anastacia - sorry I missed that the first time around - it is lime zest - enjoy!

Katie said...

Thank you so much, Catherine. This will be my first GF Thanksgiving and it's making me a little nervous. But, I've decided to bring my own turkey cutlet with me and some GF side dishes. Maybe my non-GF family will like my GF food too!