As someone who has eaten gluten free since before gluten was a mainstream word (circa 2005), I know my way around a gluten free Thanksgiving. While following a restrictive diet might seem like a troublesome task around the holidays, I’m here to tell you, it’s actually really easy! With a little bit of preparation and communication, you won’t have to miss a beat this holiday season, In fact, while I’m writing this article from the perspective of eating gluten free, these tips can just as easily be applied to dairy free, keto, vegan, etc. diets. Without further ado, here are my top four tips for eating gluten free this Thanksgiving.
Focus on Foods that are Naturally Gluten Free
Let’s start with our glass half full. There will be many food options on the menu that are naturally gluten free. Unless store bought, you can typically count on the turkey and mashed potatoes to be gluten free. These are two of the core foods that come to mind when you think ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ so take comfort in knowing these will likely be a safe gluten-free option. Other common Thanksgiving side dishes that are typically gluten free include cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, roasted veggies or your great aunt’s jello salad. If there’s a green, leafy salad on the menu, this is likely gluten free as well! So long as it’s free from croutons or a non-gluten free salad dressing.
And the gluten free options don’t just stop at the main course. Charcuterie boards (minus the crackers), deviled eggs, caprese skewers, shrimp cocktail, bacon wrapped dates and veggie platters make great gluten free appetizers. And when it comes to dessert, I am not above eating the inside of a pie and avoiding the crust. Obviously, you have to do what you are comfortable with, but many Thanksgiving desserts such as pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie or cheesecake are naturally gluten free, aside from the crust. So, before you start focusing on the food you might not be able to eat, focus on everything you can eat. This brings me to tip #2…
Offer to Bring Something that Must Specifically be Made Gluten Free
Ok, so there are a lot of great foods you will be able to enjoy on Thanksgiving. But, let’s face it, there are a few that will likely be off-limits. That is, unless you offer to make a gluten free version! Which is exactly what I recommend you do.
As someone who loves stuffing and looks forward to eating it all year long, I’ll be damned if I don’t get to eat stuffing on Thanksgiving. However, given that stuffing is 95% cubed bread, the chances that it will be gluten free are small. For that reason, I offer to make the stuffing. This way I know I will be able to eat it, and it’s one more gluten free option on the table.
With that said, be strategic about what you offer to bring. If you know someone else is bringing a gluten free salad, offer to bring dinner rolls, a chocolate pie or something else that likely won’t be gluten free. The more options the merrier when it comes to Thanksgiving!
Beware of Sauces and Gravy
We all have that one family member who fills up their plate on Thanksgiving and then ladles gravy atop every square inch. Heck, maybe you’re this family member! If, however, you are gluten free, beware of the gravy. Whether homemade or store bought, flour is often used as a thickening agent in gravy and sauces. So, before you contaminate your entire plate, confirm if the gravy is gluten free. Plan ahead by either making your own gravy or buying one that you can confirm is gluten free. Thankfully for brands like Primal Kitchen, having an allergen friendly holiday is now easier than ever. Check out their allergen friendly gravy here.
Don’t be Shy!
There are two types of gluten free people in this world: those who shout about their allergy from the rooftop and those who prefer to be a little more subdued. Regardless which one you are the other 364 days of the year, to make the most of your Thanksgiving, don’t be shy about asking people how they made their green bean casserole. Don’t waste a minute of the holiday feeling sick because you ate something you assumed was gluten free.
Bonus: you would be amazed how many people are willing to tweak their recipe to accommodate an allergy if they know ahead of time. Especially on a day devoted to love, community and giving thanks! So don’t be shy!
Whether you’re gluten free, dairy free, vegan, or following another diet, don’t let your food restrictions spoil your holiday. With the right attitude, a dollop of planning and side of communication, your holiday will be no different from the gluten eating individuals at the table.
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