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A savvy girl’s guide to a gluten-free Thanksgiving

If a guest at your Thanksgiving dinner party is gluten-free, you might be tempted to throw in the proverbial towel and get it catered. But you can create a delish Thanksgiving meal that’s gluten-free with these tips.

Woman preparing gluten-free Thanksgiving meal

Living with celiac disease is tough enough. It lurks in mysterious places you wouldn’t expect. For some, holidays are a period of high stress because they worry they’re inconveniencing family and friends.

To top it off, if you’re cooking for someone who’s gluten-free, you’re probably stressed, too. How do I really know? What if I screw up? Will I make them sick? If someone you love lives with gluten sensitivity, we have some tips on making their Thanksgiving meal delicious and stress-free — for both of you.

Chill out!

You don’t have celiac disease. They know that. They’re more than aware of how frustrating it is when you’re just learning. If you can’t figure something out, just ask — ask for some recipes if you need to.

And don’t feel like you have to ban glutenous goodies altogether. If your hubby can’t have Thanksgiving without stuffing just like his mom used to make, make it! They don’t want you to make a sacrifice, they just want to enjoy the holiday. Just warn your friend which items aren’t gluten-free. You can use ice pop sticks marked with a GF in magic marker inserted into the dishes to indicate which items are gluten-free.

Remember, cooking gluten-free for someone else is an act of love. They’ll appreciate it.

Go on a shopping spree

Particularly for someone who has celiac disease, just a bit of gluten is as bad as a lot. Buy and mark utensils, pots and pans for use in gluten-free cooking only. Unless they’re nonporous, washing them may not help. (Don’t forget to sanitize the countertops if they come into contact with food.)

Also, keep the gluten-free foods on a separate table if possible and ask guests not to swap spoons when serving, too. Don’t make a big deal out of it, though.

Beware the bird

Both fresh and frozen turkeys can be a source of hidden gluten. They inject handy basting solutions into the meat to make it easier to cook, but those solutions could contain gluten. So could those handy-dandy gravy packets they come with. Check the label or the manufacturer’s website to be sure. While not all products they sell are gluten-free, the following major brands do offer gluten-free options: Empire Kosher, Honeysuckle, Jennie-O, Perdue and Butterball. That doesn’t mean they’re the only ones on the shelves, though.

Stuff it with care

Really, you shouldn’t be stuffing the bird, anyway. It’s not 100 percent sanitary to eat stuffing from the cavity. Either way, you can make your favorite stuffing recipe with gluten-free bread (read the labels on your seasonings and other ingredients). Or just opt for traditional Southern stuffing made with real (flour-free) cornbread.


It’s all gravy

If you don’t know how to, it’s time to learn to make homemade gravy from drippings. Many prepackaged gravies are thickened with products that contain gluten. If you make your own, you can thicken it using an arrowroot or cornstarch slurry or sweet rice flour.

From the vegan handbook

To flavor or sweeten fresh veggies (most of which are gluten-free), cook them in orange juice or apple cider. If you want an extra sweetness added to carrots or sweet potatoes, try maple syrup instead of sugar (which it’s safest to avoid unless your friend tells you they don’t have issues with sugar). Skip canned and frozen veggies to be safe, though many are gluten-free.

Shake up your baking

You can buy gluten-free rolls and desserts to make it easy. But if you want to make them from scratch, we recommend checking out our gluten-free recipes section. Look into gluten-free substitutions for common gluten culprits. Cup4Cup or Better Batter are options for flour, but there are tons more.

What now?

If this is your first time making a gluten-free meal, it will put your mind at ease if you write down all your gluten-free recipes (including the brands you plan to buy if applicable) and just clear everything with your gluten-free guests. And invite them to bring at least one favorite of their own!

Try these gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes

Delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving desserts
Gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes
Gluten-free Friday: Move over turkey! 5 Gluten-free Thanksgiving sides

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