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Okay, you’ve got the whole holiday cooking gluten cross-contamination thing figured out and you are ready to figure out what to bring to a party to stay safely gluten-free and still have fun. Below is a quick list of how to easily make the traditional holiday foods be gluten free, along with suggestions for making these items healthier and even grain-free. Now, of course, not everything is listed here for holiday foods, so if you need a suggestion for how to make something, just ask in the comments and I’ll respond if I have suggestions. I know this list isn’t complete, because I’m not really a traditional holiday-foods kinda girl. Heck, I made homemade grain-free, dairy free pizza for Thanksgiving, so I’m just sharing what is top of mind for traditional…
Yay! It’s naturally gluten free and grain-free, unless the bird is stuffed with a traditional stuffing (makes all the meat cross-contaminated). That said, be wary of commercial turkeys, read to make sure the turkeys haven’t been injected with “flavorings” or fillers which almost always contain gluten (and it’s just plain gross!). Sauces used to baste a turkey can contain gluten so find out what was used for basting. Be wary of seasoning packets, marinades and gravy packets that sometimes accompany turkeys, they usually contain gluten, so don’t use them and make your own!
The healthiest turkeys are turkeys that were free-range and fed their natural diet instead of grains.
To make stuffing that tastes like your traditional stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread, corn muffins, or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread. Easy! And best of all…stale, dense bread makes stuffing better and gluten free bread tends to be denser than gluten containing breads.
Or make a stuffing without bread, by replacing the bread with wild rice. Or for grain-free stuffing, use sausage in place of the bread. So many options! Personally, I’ve always thought stuffing was disgusting…soggy bread, ugh! But I realize I’m alone, most folks like soggy bread. Personally, I’ll choose bread-free, grain-free stuffing every time!
When homemade, it’s usually gluten free unless a broth is used in place of dairy. Instant mashed potatoes aren’t always gluten free. Potato Buds and Barbara’s Instant mashed potatoes are GF at last check. But come on! Mashed potatoes, pretty easy to make…there’s no reason to substitute boxed, dried, instant mashed potatoes… Really!
For lower glycemic, use sweet potatoes (yep, tastes sweeter, but is actually lower in sugars) instead of white potatoes or substitute steamed cauliflower for mashed potatoes (much more nutritious and lower glycemic). The great thing about using cauliflower is you can whip it up in a food processor with olive oil, butter, coconut oil or gluten-free broth without any concern of it becoming “gluey”…process away! And it takes and looks similar to mashed potatoes, but your blood sugar will thank you for it. I prefer to add a little sautéed garlic and thyme to my mashed cauliflower.
For thickening gravy, whisk in a tablespoon or two of sweet rice flour or an arrowroot starch slurry. Potato flour is another choice- but be careful you don’t add too much and end up with gooey gravy you have to almost slice to serve or thicken it!
Another option for thickening gravy is to use an immersion blender to blend up some of the onions (and other veggies if you have them in the gravy). The veggies will naturally thicken your gravy with no need for adding a starch.
You can make ‘em or pick up a quick pre-made batch, most natural food stores have a gluten free roll alternative. You may need to use GF hamburger buns or GF English muffins if your store doesn’t have GF rolls for sale.
Of course, even better is to load up on more veggies for your holiday carbs instead of the rolls. Why get filled-up eating rolls, when there are so many yummy holiday foods to eat?
The canned, jiggly, weird alien food version with ridges is almost always GF, though making it yourself is much tastier, healthier and surprisingly really easy!
Grab a bag of frozen or fresh cranberries, pour them into a pot, turn the heat on medium and once they have popped, releasing their juices, it’s done. Now of course, if you just ate it like that, it would be crazy sour and rather boring. So throw in some flavors. I like to add the juice and zest of a couple oranges, some dates and/or raisins and apples and let it cook in with the cranberry sauce. Add some warming sweet spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and you have deliciousness on hand. All of the spices and fruit can be cooked in or add the apples raw for some crunch. Speaking of crunch, nuts are a nice addition. Or if you want it even easier, make it raw, by pulsing it in the food processor with these ingredients, and don’t cook it down at all! You can also add in some honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar and/or stevia to sweeten it up a little more, but remember that sour will help us digest some of the holiday foods so don’t sugar crazy!
Wood rolling pins will cause pie gluten cross-contamination so make sure to put parchment paper between the pie crust and the rolling pin if it’s wood and has ever touched a gluten-containing flour. For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Midel’s Gluten-Free Gingersnaps or Pamela’s cookies (Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling) processed into crumbs. Then simply replace the cookie/cracker crumbs in the recipe with gluten-free cookie crumbs. Need a GF pie crust? Try this Epicurean recipe.
That said, that’s waaay too much work for me and I like a high-protein crust that will make-up for the sugars in a filling, dropping the glycemic level some. I always make nut crusts, which couldn’t be easier. Just food process nuts and/or seeds down to the size you like, from completely powdered (flour) to still big pieces of nuts. Add some dates to hold it together. Add a little water until it starts sticking and wa-lah! Press it into an oiled, pie pan to the depth you want and done, no rolling out messy crusts that break and fall apart. Sometimes I add coconut oil instead of dates to help hold it together. Sometimes I add shredded coconut. All delicious and all grain-free, gluten-free and egg-free. If it needs to be nut free, just use shredded coconut and seeds. So easy.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Streusel and marshmallows are the real danger in traditional casserole. To make GF, use GF marshmallows or use GF flour in the streusel, or replace both with chopped nuts for a healthier, blood sugar balancing casserole. Or heck, leave off the topping all together. Sweet potatoes are yummy, why add all the other stuff?
Other great sources for Gluten Free Holiday Recipes:
What foods are you feasting on this holiday season? Need more ideas? If you are interested in learning to cook without recipes and honing your creativity in the kitchen, please join me in Denver for one or more of my cooking classes.