with a few survival tips and a recipe to boot!
For those of us with food allergies and intolerances, the holiday season is difficult and sometimes painful. I am often asked what happens when I eat gluten or dairy. After several years of trying to delicately answer this question, I now say, “it’s gastro-intestinal” and let it go at that. But, really, it goes much further and is much, much worse. Sure, there’s the initial sickness which lays me low for a day, or two, or three, but it also causes more long term effects, including debilitating exhaustion; brain fog I can’t explain; horrible muscle and joint pain; and weird moodiness.
So, when I say I can’t have it, I really can’t, not even a little.
If you have food intolerances, here are a few strategies for getting through Thanksgiving next week. If you’re eating with friends and family, and they can’t accommodate you, you need to bring your own food, even if it makes you feel awkward and different. Getting sick is just not worth it. Decide what you absolutely need to make your Thanksgiving special. Is it pie? Cake? (I’m making a GF/CF carrot cake w/”cream cheese” icing this year.) Dressing/stuffing just like your mom’s? Cranberry sauce? Turkey? Sweet potatoes?
For me, I must have my mom’s cornbread dressing, and she and I collaborated on the recipe below. We discovered how to make it GF/CF several years ago. I’m preparing a special dinner for my birth family on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and going to my in-laws’ house on the actual day. I can’t eat a single thing at their house, and as there are lots of people to feed, I don’t expect them to cater to my food intolerances. I’m not kidding. Thanksgiving is probably the cruelest month for folks who can’t eat wheat or dairy. I just thank God, that I’m not allergic.
On Thanksgiving Day, I’m bringing turkey breast, mashed potatoes, plain green beans, salad for one, and a carrot cake. Because of past years of cross-contamination from serving spoons and forks, I’ll be making a separate plate for my food in my kitchen ahead of time. I get teased for cutting a piece of cake or pie before anyone else, but I just explain. (Once upon a time, this was very hard for me, but, now, I hate being sick more.)
If you are trying to cook for a friend with food intolerances or allergies, ask them about cross-contamination issues first. They will be thrilled you asked, I promise, and for a normal meal, it’s not that difficult to keep things separate (except when talking about peanut or other allergies, and that’s a whole different ballgame).
On Sunday, with my family’s help, I am making a feast of turkey (not basted or injected with gluten, barley malt, whey [dairy], etc.), cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and green beans. My mom (who is feeling much better than last summer, thank you) is bringing the GF/CF pumpkin pie, GF/CF cherry pie, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. My sister is bringing an amazing fruit salad. My mother and sister, along with my family here, can eat dairy, so there will be whipped cream. I’ll use the soy whip which is just so-so. Last year, I made whipped coconut milk, and it was good, but very coconutty, which was a bit weird with pumpkin pie.
Yum, I’m just hungry thinking about it.
Mom’s Gluten and Dairy Free Cornbread Dressing
Makes one 9×13 pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
One 8×8 or 9×9 pan of homemade cornbread; Be sure to make your own and to use gluten free cornmeal when you do. You don’t want cross-contamination from wheat processing. Bob’s Red Mill has great gluten free cornmeal. Also, don’t use a sweet cornbread mix. It makes the dressing taste odd. To make the cornbread, just use your favorite savory cornbread recipe. If it calls for wheat flour, use sorghum flour or rice flour, or a mix of GF flours in its place. Instead of butter, use your favorite mild-tasting oil. Pamela’s Products Cornbread & Muffin Mix is pretty good too, but I like a more coarse grain to my cornmeal.
Three loaves of inexpensive gluten free white bread; I buy Ener-G Foods Light Tapioca Loaf or White Rice Loaf. Both work great.
Two onions, chopped
Four or five celery ribs, chopped
Half of one bottle of McCormick or Penzey’s leaf sage (not rubbed) McCormick spices are gluten free. Penzey’s does have some items with dairy, and some of their soup bases have wheat, but they are clearly labeled.
One to two tablespoons of salt (to your taste)
Two to four tablespoons of freshly ground pepper
Either the drippings from the turkey (gluten free of course), or if you don’t have these, use extra chicken broth (Swanson’s regular is GF, but their Organic is not; Kitchen Basics is a good GF brand as is Pacific Foods) mixed with a stick of Earth Balance buttery spread (or butter if you can eat it). Add enough chicken broth to the mixture so that it is “sloppy wet” per my mother. A lot of the liquid will evaporate during cooking.
Pour into a greased or sprayed pan and bake for one to one and a half hours.
That is our cornbread dressing. You can add other things to it if you like. HH likes smoked oysters, so we take some of the dressing and add the oysters to it just prior to baking.
Other additions: cranberries, sausage, apple, or anything which says Thanksgiving to you.
Pies: The Gluten-Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix is great, but give yourself time to make it the first time or two. Hint: roll the crust between waxed paper, or plastic wrap to keep it from tearing. Peel off the top layer of plastic, invert the pie plate on top of the crust and flip. Take off remaining piece of plastic or wax paper. Fill with your favorite filling. For pumpkin pies, I use hemp or almond milk in place of the dairy. No one can tell the difference.
Turkey: Be sure to check out your turkey and make sure it is GF/CF. Turkeys are often injected with various things to make them juicier. Refined coconut oil is a great replacement for the butter most people rub onto the turkey’s skin. You can also use oil or the Earth Balance buttery sticks. The last do have soy so be aware of that if you’re sensitive to it. Earth Balance has recently developed a soy free version of their popular spread, but I haven’t found it in stick form yet. It is delicious.
For more information about staying healthy this Thanksgiving, see Karina’s Kitchen for a plethora of recipes, including the usual suspects. Her Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie is delish, and you don’t even have to make a crust. Also, Gluten Free Cooking School has some good looking recipes as does Gluten Free Mom. Gluten Free Girl has some awesome looking dinner rolls I’d like to try on her site. If I didn’t have my momma’s stuffing, I’d try Ginger Lemon Girl’s GF Walnut Stuffing recipe.
I hope this information helps someone out there who is having trouble figuring out what to do for their first or even their tenth gluten and dairy free holiday.
Hang in there.
Here’s to everyone having a happy, healthy and bountiful Thanksgiving. God bless you and yours.