Gluten Free Food Allergy Thanksgiving - The Blog - Can I Eat Here
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Gluten Free Food Allergy Thanksgiving

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Timeless Traditions Can Still Be Gluten Free And Allergy Friendly | by | November 15, 2013


As I looked through my family pictures this week, I came across this one of my family from 10 years ago, long before Celiac Disease had entered our lives, and smiled as I remembered the baptism of my twins and the importance of family. Thanksgiving is a time when families share time honored traditions and lovingly prepare recipes that have been handed down for generations. It seems that more things change, the more things stay the same. Except if you have gluten free diet restrictions or have a food allergy. That can change everything. One of the "traditions" in my extended family is who does which holiday. Mine is Thanksgiving and if I do say so myself,  I'm pretty good at it! I figured it out years ago and have it down to a science. Things usually go off without a hitch (unless you count the year my oven didn't work and I didn't know it.) When my daughter and I were diagnosed with Celiac Disease and were now required to eat a gluten restricted diet, Thanksgiving became an ordeal. All of my family recipes and ideas were unusable (mostly) and I was set adrift on a lonely gluten free Thanksgiving sea.


Whether you are a newbie to the food allergy world, or a gluten free veteran, it's always good to plan ahead for Turkey Day. For me, food is a reminiscence of my childhood. I have my grandma's stuffing recipe or my great grandma's butter cookies at Christmas, that take me back to the holidays of past and some of my favorite childhood memories. These are the aromas and tastes that remind me of a simpler time and allow for those who have passed to stay in our hearts. Letting us know that they will always be there, to give thanks for the time we had and be mindful of the impact they had in our lives. 


It was important to me that my meal Thanksgiving meal tasted as I expected, but I didn't account for the fact that ingredients were different and I failed to plan ahead. I was bound and determined to keep the old recipes in spite of this stupid Celiac Disease! Before she died and could no longer make the stuffing, I took over the job and perfected it! The stuffing was/is my thing! The first year that I tried to make her stuffing recipe (with gluten free bread) I failed miserably. It felt like I had lost my grandma all over again. I broke down in my kitchen and cried over stuffing! I thought I had lost it and quite frankly, so did my family. That was the first moment I realized not only how important food was to my holiday celebration, but the "why" it was so important. I missed my grandma.


First step in the checklist of Thanksgiving planning is to pull out your recipes and review them well in advance of the big day. Make sure the recipes are free of your known allergens or gluten and research which products might be good substitutions to maintain flavor, texture and consistency. Go through your list of substitution products and figure out which ones might be better depending upon the recipe. For example, which breads might be good for your stuffing (hint: I like Udi's, more on that later) or how can I make a gluten free gravy and is my turkey free from food allergens and gluten, etc...Make new traditions by adding allergy free and gluten free recipes to your repertoire.  My second step is to plan my menu.  Choose appetizers, special cocktails or wine, entree's, side dishes and desserts. I assign different components of the meal to a few of my family members so that I'm not stuck with the entire meal. Once dishes are assigned I can make a shopping list. I break mine down by store. I am a brand buyer. I have certain brands and no other will do. Not all stores carry the products I need or like, therefore breaking my list down by store helps me save time when doing my shopping and I can plan a route that is most convenient to any other errands. Additionally, there are a lot of Thanksgiving deals out there and grocery stores vying for our business. I take that into consideration as well.


I think that taking small bites out of the busiest time of the year, helps alleviate the stress. Failing to plan is planning to fail! It's about two weeks away and it's the perfect time to start your Thanksgiving preparation. Let's review and get started this weekend if you haven't already:


1.) Gather recipes and review for food allergies and gluten. Choose new recipes to add to your Thanksgiving traditions.

2.) Choose necessary substitutions by researching which products might maintain that consistency for your holiday.

3.) Set your menu. I actually write it out completely and notate anyone I've assigned a specific dish to.

4.) Make your grocery list. I also note which store I might get that product at to make my route more efficient when shopping.

5.) Review your grocery ads to find the best bang for your buck!


That's a good start. I will have more Thanksgiving tips, tricks, preparation, recipes and ideas to come....Stay tuned!