Guilt-free, Gluten-free Thanksgiving

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? If one or more of your guests suffer from celiac disease, which requires they abstain from eating gluten, then Just Right Eating’s Stephanie Johnson is here to help. 

Many, today, live with celiac disease - an autoimmune system disease with several symptoms if gluten is consumed. Gluten comes in the form of barley, wheat, and rye, but is also used as filler and can be hidden in products such as ketchup, chicken broth, and spices. Gluten can also be found in unsuspecting products, so best practice is to check ingredients labels. 

Gluten-free can be an ambiguous term that has exploded and lead to the production of a multi-billion-dollar gluten-free food market. Many people have attributed the success of the gluten-free market to fad, advertising, misleading information and other factors - the truth being that there are very few scientific studies investigating gluten-free diets in people who are not afflicted with celiac disease or wheat allergy. 

For any person diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder, it is important for them to strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet in order to prevent gastrointestinal disturbances, optimize nutrient absorption (thereby reducing risk of anemia and osteoporosis), and, in the case of celiac disease, reduce the risk of intestinal lymphoma (cancer related to elevated inflammation)*.
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving feast for a person that is celiac, here are some simple approaches.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cookies, pastries, and cakes.

The traditional sweet potato casserole, homemade mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey are commonly naturally gluten-free. Most Butterball and Honeysuckle products have removed any gluten ingredients from turkeys, with the exception of the stuffed turkey. Check labeling and spices to be 100% sure that those ingredients are gluten-free.
Veggies and animal protein are almost always naturally gluten-free unless there are added sauces and toppings that contain gluten.  

Green bean casseroles contain cream of mushroom and fried onion rings, which contain gluten. To remedy this, find gluten free cream of mushroom and eliminate the onion rings. Do not make a casserole half and half as this will cause cross contamination. It’s also important not to use utensils or baking dishes after using them for dishes where gluten is used as this can also cause cross contamination. The best bet is to make a separate dish for gluten free guests. A good practice is to make gluten free items first and wash all utensils and baking dishes with hot water and dish soap.

Gluten-free dinner rolls may be best if purchased unless gluten-free flours are manipulated in the correct amounts to create a roll. For stuffing, there are many delicious gluten-free stuffing recipes, so check online and with friends. 

Pies, cookies, and cakes can also be made gluten-free, but there are ready-made options for purchase. Our local Springfield, IL, Just Right Eating store has healthy, delicious, and gluten-free baked good options. If cooking from scratch, replace enriched flour or whole-wheat flour with brown rice flour, almond flour, coconut flour, amaranth, buckwheat, or other substitutes for wheat derived flours. You can also find products made with gluten-free ingredients.
If purchasing ready-made foods, check the label. Beware of modified food starch; modified food starch is one of the most prevalent hidden glutens, however, food starch can be derived from different sources including corn, which is gluten-free. 

Here are a couple of supplemental recipes from Just Right Eating.
Instead of green bean casserole, do green beans with slivered, toasted almonds.  

Instead of the traditional pumpkin pie, try this pumpkin cheesecake recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1.00 c. Cool Whip
0.50 c. maple syrup CUP
3.00 scoop(s) protein powder vanilla
1.75 c. pumpkin puree
1.00 tsp. pumpkin spice
2.00 c. ricotta, fat-free
5.00 tbs. Stevia
1.00 tsp. vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350
In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, sugar substitute, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract and protein powder, mix well.
Pour the filling mixture into the crust and smooth it with the back of a spoon to even out. Bake until the filling is set about 40 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Then refrigerate for two hours. Cut into eight slices.

Recipe Nutrients:
Calories    135
Fat        1.3g
Sugar        3.8g
Sodium    172.3mg
Carb        15.9g
Protein    14.4g
Fiber        2.6g

* Silvester and Duerksen, 2013