Thanksgiving is a time dedicated to family and feasting. In fact, it might be the most food-oriented holiday we have. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce are festive foods that the whole family enjoys this time of year.
For those of us on a gluten-free diet, this can pose some serious issues for us. It’s one thing to be cooking for ourselves. It’s another thing entirely when you are going to be somebody’s guest – someone who may not be familiar with the intricacies of the gluten-free diet.
In order to help you avoid any issues with your Thanksgiving, we’ve put together 5 essential tips and tricks to make sure your holiday feast doesn’t skip a beat.
5 Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks
Let’s take a moment to think about the Thanksgiving menu. Moist turkeys – injected with store bought gravy thickened with wheat flour. Flavorful stuffing – made with white bread. Delicious pumpkin pie – complete with gluten-filled crust. And we’re just getting started! Without the right planning, a day meant for stuffing yourself silly can result in eating little more than the coleslaw and the potatoes.
So today we are going to go over 5 gluten-free Thanksgiving safety tips to help you and your family navigate the traditionally gluten-rich seas of Thanksgiving, whether you eat in or eat out.
- Explain to your host your situation & offer to bring a dish. Explain to the host as soon as possible about your situation. Most people are very sensitive of food allergies and will want to be as accommodating as possible. However, it is always a gracious gesture as a guest to offer to bring a side dish or two that you can enjoy so the host won’t need to worry about ingredients. Remember, make enough to share!
- Be careful about the serving utensils! If your Thanksgiving dinner is anything like mine, you’ll know it is not the well organized with military like precision. Even though you make sure that each dish has a serving spoon, fifteen minutes after you sit down you find that three spoons are in the mashed potatoes and an extra one seems to have materialized out of thin air and is sitting next to the gravy. To make sure you avoid accidentally getting residual stuffing on your plate, make sure you have your own utensils that don’t get passed around with the dishes.
- Be wary of the common culprits. Some gluten-rich Thanksgiving staples include store bought gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, bread stuffing, and any turkey meat marinated or injected with a gluten-filled sauce. You can ask the host about how these dishes will be prepared prior to the meal, or bring your own gluten-free version.
- Host the Thanksgiving meal at your home. This option is a no-brainer: by offering to host the Thanksgiving dinner, you can make every aspect of the dinner gluten-free which combats the risk of contamination. However, if you are creating a menu that combines with gluten-free and gluten-rich dishes, be careful to avoid cross-contamination both during the cooking process and the serving period. If you also have guests bringing over some gluten-rich dishes, make sure that these dishes are served separately and away from the gluten-free dishes. And as a common courtesy, check if any of your guests have any dietary restrictions of their own that they would like you to consider while preparing the menu.
- Eat out for Thanksgiving dinner. If you don’t want to trouble a potential Thanksgiving host, but you cannot host Thanksgiving dinner yourself, suggest eating out at a restaurant for Thanksgiving. Call and make your reservation well before Thanksgiving, and then speak to the restaurant staff about their gluten-free options.
Thanksgiving should be a great time to enjoy quality food and company. A gluten-free diet shouldn’t be a reason not to enjoy the holidays, and with a little precaution and foresight, it won’t be.
What is your best tip for having a safe, gluten-free Thanksgiving?