When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Thanksgiving was a holiday that came with much trepidation. Aunt Edna’s gelatin mold with peas was indeed a bit scary, but my BIG fear was how to survive Thanksgiving gluten-free. Our dinner table was traditionally laden with gluten-filled fares such as stuffing, rolls, gravy, and pies. As a “newbie”, I envisioned myself munching on a piece of cardboard in the corner (most likely at the kid’s table). Fear not! Thanksgiving (and any other holiday) can be deliciously gluten-free. A little research, planning, and flexibility will help you to have your best Thanksgiving yet.
Use Your (Indoor) Voice
Thanksgiving with family and Friendsgiving can be stressful. From well-meaning people making gluten-free meals to cross-contamination and hidden gluten, these meals can be a minefield. And this minefield is potentially filled with projectile vomit (or diarrhea), brain fog, bloated bellies, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. What should us gluten-free folk do?
- Host the gathering in your home. This gives you control over ingredients and what comes into your kitchen
- BYOF – Bring Your Own Food. If you’re dining elsewhere, bring your favorite dish so you know for certain you’ll have something safe to enjoy.
- Label the food you’ve brought with an extremely large gluten-free sign. And no, it’s not selfish to hide it in order to avoid a rouge pretzel falling in.
- Head it off at the pass. Unless your host is extremely knowledgeable about what is truly gluten-free, let them know you’ll bring a main dish. If they want suggestions, give them some naturally gluten-free food ideas. Fruit, veggies, and a cheese plate (as long as it’s kept away from any crackers are great.
- Be like Nancy Reagan and Just Say No. When cousin Jill says she made a gluten-free (insert food here), it’s ok to let her know that while you appreciate her efforts, unless you can see all of the ingredient labels, the food isn’t safe for you to eat. This is a great time to explain hidden gluten and cross-contamination.
- Ask to see the labels. Is there a tossed salad with the salad dressing already added? Before you chow down, ask to see the dressing bottle. For example, Annie’s Organic Green Goddess salad dressing contains soy (wheat). I learned this the hard way.
- Don’t feel like an annoying guest. You being gluten-free isn’t a fad, this is a medical condition. And anyone who says otherwise can stick a sweet potato where the sun doesn’t shine.
- If suggestions one through seven aren’t realistic, eat beforehand or pack some snacks. I know this is the suckiest option, but getting glutened is not worth it.
To make sure you select a gluten-free turkey, always check the ingredient list, visit the manufacturer’s website, or contact customer service. The following turkey brands do not contain gluten.
Jennie-O has a massive amount of gluten-free products (over 90!) including gluten-free whole turkeys and turkey breasts. Select “gluten-free” under their Health & Diet section to view the full list.
Via the Jennie-O website:
Q: Do you have a listing of Jennie-O gluten-free products?
A: Yes. Browse our products without gluten-containing ingredients. Please note that although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, it is always necessary to read product labels on the products to determine if the food product meets your required needs.
Empire Kosher is another brand that carries a large number of gluten-free turkey (as well as chicken) products.
Via the Empire Kosher website:
Q: Do you have a list of products that are gluten-free?
A: Yes, we do. Please find our gluten-free product list on the “Products” page under the “Gluten-Free” tab or by calling our consumer hotline at 717-436-5921.
Perdue clearly marks its products with a “Certified Gluten-Free” label. Use their search tool to select Gluten-Free options. Perdue has over ten gluten-free chicken and turkey options including Perdue Short Cuts Carved Oven Roasted Turkey Breasts.
Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White
Both brands are owned by Cargill Meat Solutions.
Via both the Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle websites:
Q: Do your turkeys contain gluten?
A: Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White fresh and frozen whole turkeys and bone-in turkey breasts do not contain gluten. If the turkey you purchased has gravy, our gravy does not contain gluten either. Rice flour is used in the preparation of our gravy.
Gluten-Free Gift Ideas
Hop on the gravy train! Sure, “traditional” gravy is made from a flour base. However, you can make a mouthwatering gluten-free gravy from scratch or go easy on yourself and use a gluten-free gravy packet. Check out my full article here for a gravy breakdown.
Go on and get stuffed. Read this post for the best gluten-free stuffing recipe. Or go the boxed route with these 5 tasty gluten-free stuffing mixes. for some savory Gluten-Free Stuffing. Or ditch the bread altogether with a rice-based stuffing?
These naturally gluten-free options all make fabulous sides.
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Fruit salad
- Candied yams
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted butternut squash or brussels sprouts
- Asparagus with lemon zest
- Green beans with garlic and olive oil
The possibilities are endless. Since pumpkin is so often featured as the star of the show, here are some ideas to inspire:
From my family to yours, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving full of family, friends, fun, and gluten-free food.