Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day to reflect on the past year over a delicious meal with friends and family. But for those of us with food allergies or sensitivities, this food-filled holiday can be anything but enjoyable. Don’t worry – I have you covered this year!

My mom loves Thanksgiving – it’s her favorite holiday. She has a Thanksgiving folder with all her recipes, notes, and menus from years past. Most years, she hosts and for a few days leading up to Turkey Day, she is busy prepping and cooking. Food is overflowing from the kitchen and you won’t be surprised to find non-perishable foods in the laundry room, waiting to be brought into the kitchen. The dining room table is set with her fine china and crystal. Cooking duties and chores are divided up between us and we all pitch in to help.

The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, my mom made me my own Thanksgiving folder. She made copies of all of her recipes and taught me how to plan for cooking such a large meal with so many different dishes. We made a checklist and assigned duties to everyone. Luckily, she was there to help, guiding me along the way.


The first year I was diagnosed with food allergies, I didn’t think we would be able to cook our traditional dinner. Gravy – made with flour; mashed potatoes – has milk and butter; stuffing – made with a loaf of bread; dessert – forget about it! I thought my plate was going to be filled with turkey with no gravy, sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Luckily, I have an amazing mother who took her recipes and converted everything she could so I wouldn’t be left out. There are still some dishes that I can’t eat, like green bean casserole, but I don’t mind because I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Some years we serve soup, other years we omit that course so we have more room to enjoy the main event. Every year we start out with Pistachio Cheese Crisps. OMG, they are so delish!

Planning ahead is the key to a successful Thanksgiving. A few weeks leading up to the big day, plan your menu. Gather all of your recipes; print them out and put them in a folder. If you are converting family favorites to be gluten, dairy, and egg-free, make notes on what changes need to be made. You can swap dairy milk with whole-fat coconut milk, substitute butter with Earth Balance buttery spread (remember, if you are avoiding soy, Earth Balance has a soy-free spread), and replace wheat bread for cornbread.

After reviewing your recipes, determine what can be made ahead of time. I like check lists, so I make a big list, writing out everything that needs to be accomplished, who is responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed by. Many of the foods can be baked at the same time, since the baking temperature is the same.

The week of Thanksgiving is busy and fun. We go grocery shopping on Monday or Tuesday and start cooking on Wednesday. Since we do a lot of prepping and cooking on Wednesday, we have time to enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ease into cooking on Thursday. We typically eat around 3pm, so our turkey goes on the grill around 10 am. By grilling the turkey, our oven is free for baking everything else. The kitchen is a beehive of activity – we are all cooking and the dogs are underfoot, waiting for something to drop their way.

The following menu is delicious and I promise you won’t be able to tell there isn’t any gluten, dairy, or eggs anywhere to be found. Just follow the links to the individual recipes but scroll down for the main event – the turkey and gravy!


Pistachio Cheese Crisps

Main Course:
Turkey with Gluten-Free Beer Basting and Giblet Gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Broccoli with Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream


Grilled Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: approximately 20 minutes per pound
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people


1 (approx. 12-lb) turkey
1 celery stalk, with leaves
12 ounces of gluten-free beer
8 tablespoons of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small aluminum pan filled with water
1 medium aluminum pan for under the turkey to catch the drippings for gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

Directions for Cooking the Turkey:

  1. If using a frozen turkey, follow the package directions to defrost the turkey. A good rule of thumb is to thaw at a rate of 1 day per 4 lbs. of turkey. A 12-lb. turkey will take about three days to defrost.
  2. One day prior to cooking the turkey, remove the innards and giblets to make homemade stock (recipe follows).
  3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 350 degrees. Place the medium aluminum pan under the grate in the center of the grill and place the small aluminum pan with water on the grate.
  4. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and wash under cold water. Pat dry. Do not let the bird rest at room temperature for an extended period of time.
  5. To make the basting, combine the gluten-free beer and honey in a tall glass. Mix well to combine. Place the celery stalk leaves side down, into the basting mixture. You will use this to baste the turkey as it cooks.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the cornbread stuffing. Use kitchen twine to close the cavity of the turkey.
  7. Lightly coat the bird with a thin layer of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the turkey.
  8. Place the turkey on a roasting rack and transfer to the grill. Close the grill and let the temperature rise back to 350 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes and then baste the bird.
  9. Baste the turkey in 15-minute increments, using the celery as a basting brush.
  10. Keep an eye on the aluminum pan with water. Refill if needed. The water helps to keep the turkey moist.
  11. Cooking times will vary, but it usually takes between 15-20 minutes per pound. A 12-lb turkey will take approximately 3.5 hours to cook. The turkey will be cooked when a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
  12. Once the turkey has cooked, remove the bird from the grill. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
  13. Carve and serve with the giblet gravy (recipe below).

Giblet Gravy

Author: Originally printed in the November 20, 1980, edition of the Contra Costa Times; modified to remove gluten and dairy.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 ½ hours
Resting Time: 24 hours
Serves: 6-8 people

Step 1 – Make the Stock 1-2 Days Before Thanksgiving


1 celery stalk
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
The innards that come with the turkey, except the liver


  1. At least 24 hours before roasting the turkey, make the broth for the gravy.
  2. Coarsely chop the celery, onion, and peeled carrot.
  3. Remove the giblets that come with the turkey. Discard the liver and place the remaining giblets in a stock pan or deep sauce pan. Add the celery, onion, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns, and Kosher salt.
  4. Add water to the pan, covering the entire contents of the pot. The water should fill the pot but not be too full that it will overflow once the liquid comes to a boil.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Let simmer 3-4 hours.
  7. Transfer to an air tight container and cool overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2 – Make the Gravy When The Turkey Is Cooked

2-4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 – ½ cup of full-fat coconut milk
Turkey stock

  1. Remove the turkey stock from the refrigerator.
  2. When the turkey has finished roasting, pour the drippings into a fat separator. Once separated, pour the drippings into a sauce pan over low to medium heat.
  3. Add one tablespoon of corn starch to the sauce pan. Whisk consistently to incorporate the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Slowly pour about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk to the gravy. Continue to whisk.
  5. Slowly pour about ¼ cup of broth into the gravy mixture. Continue to whisk.
  6. Continue to whisk and add the corn starch and coconut milk until the gravy thickens. If the gravy becomes too thick, add more broth. If it needs to be thicker, add more corn starch and coconut milk. Remember to continually whisk the gravy so it doesn’tburn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the gravy has thickened to your likening, transfer to a gravy boat and serve. Pro tip – add hot water to the gravy boat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Pour out the water and add the gravy. The boat will be warm and the gravy will stay warmer a little longer than adding to a cold gravy boat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: