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
Turkey with Gluten-Free Beer Basting and Giblet Gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Broccoli with Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
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:
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 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
The innards that come with the turkey, except the liver
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