Thinking about Thanksgiving? My favorite gluten-free products

Vegan Pumpkin Pie I made one year. It's pretty easy with almond milk and without eggs.

Although I mostly write about gardening, I am also gluten-free, and lately, I’ve received a lot of requests to write about my favorite gluten-free products. The week before Thanksgiving seems like a good time. If you’re looking for traditional gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, I have you covered with my mother’s cornbread dressing–I now use butter instead of buttery sticks, but both work well–Waldorf apple salad and gluten-free cherry pie. Just use canned cherries instead of fresh.

Fresh cherry pie. In fall, I make cherry pie with canned cherries.
Fresh cherry pie. In fall, I make cherry pie with canned cherries.

Favorite gluten-free flour mixes:

First, about flour mixes, they are mixes because straight rice flour–often used in mixes–is gritty and flat and doesn’t make decent baked goods. I’ve watched flour mixes improve greatly over the last ten years. Usually, gluten-free flour mixes contain either brown or white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, sometimes dried milk and, maybe, some type of binder like xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is derived from corn though so, in recent years, more companies are removing binders from gluten-free items. Another common binder is guar gum. Continue reading “Thinking about Thanksgiving? My favorite gluten-free products”

Gluten free, Dairy free Caesar salad

Diners at Tavern on the Green in New York

Back in the days before I went dairy and gluten free, I ate a lot of Caesar salads at various restaurants. My favorite was the one the Metro Wine Bar and Bistro in Oklahoma City served, although Juniors made a delicious one too. I like the Metro’s creamy salad dressing, and the way the chicken was grilled to perfection, crispy on the outside with a moist interior. I also adored the Metro’s famous bread and the croutons they must have made from it.

Then, gluten freedom came and soon after dairy liberty. Now, when I eat out  at a restaurant, I often feel like the management is saying, “No croutons for you!!!”

No Parmesan either by the way. Half the time management also considers eggs dairy (although they aren’t), and so they won’t let me have a good salad dressing based upon eggs. I question. I cajole. The other night at Charleston’s I was told the dressing I love on their menu, champagne vinaigrette, is not gluten free. Say what!?! I still am not sure I believe them on this, and when I asked the manager what ingredient wasn’t gluten free, and he said he’d have to go back and look at the label. He never did. Before you think I’m unreasonable, it was a Monday, and they weren’t busy. His solution? The little bottles of oil and red wine vinegar which looked like they’d sat in the back for a hundred years.

No dressing for you either.

So, a few years ago, when my boys would go to their weekly, Tuesday Boy Scout meeting, the girls and I worked to perfect the best gluten and dairy free Caesar salad ever. After many good tries, we’ve finally done it, and because I want to share the yummy goodness with you, the recipe below is set to serve five or six people (because the boys figured out what we were up to, and demanded some.)

Gluten and Dairy Free Caesar Salad


Two heads of romaine lettuce or one bag of romaine hearts rinsed and torn into pieces. We use our collapsible salad spinner to rinse.

Three Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels (Multigrain), chopped up and placed so that they lay flat in a metal pan of 4 Tbsp. olive oil and 4 Tbsp. Earth Balance Spread melted. (Yes, it’s a lot of fat, but how many croutons are you going to eat? Never mind, don’t answer that.) Before placing in a 425 degree oven, toss the croutons with Penzey’s Fox Point Seasoning (this is crucial.) Toast the croutons until brown tossing them a few times until evenly golden.

Five chicken breasts (preferably from decent chickens which haven’t been locked up in a darkened chicken house their entire lives.) Sprinkle these with the Fox Point Seasoning also. Grill the chicken outside on your grill. It’s too hot to really cook indoors. You can also put the croutons on the top shelf of your gas grill and cook them that way too.

Now, if you can have dairy, and if you can, I am so jealous, buy shaved Parmesan or a block and shave it yourself. Use Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing. It’s dog-gone good.

For those of us who are dairy free, here is my dressing.

4 Tbsp. Hellman’s mayonnaise (or another great brand)

2 Tbsp. Japanese seasoned rice vinegar (which is lightly tart and a bit sweet) If you want a sweeter dressing (I don’t, but you might), use a white balsamic in place of the Japanese vinegar. This is enough dressing for two people, but once everyone discovered how good homemade dressing is, they all asked for it. Cardini’s just sits lonely in the back of the fridge.

A sprinkle of Fox Point seasoning

A sprinkle of pepper

Mix with a whisk.

Slice the now delicious chicken and mix it all together. Get ready for yum.

Oh, and I don’t have a picture because we ate . . . every . . . last . . . bite.