4 Strategies for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving (Whether or Not You’re the Host!)

By Featured Guest Blogger November 7, 2013 No Comments

Gluten free ThanksgivingThanksgiving is coming up and with it, more food than most of us eat on any other day of the year. It’s a festive time to spend with your family and indulge in food specifically meant for this one day. A magnificent turkey, stuffing oozing with flavor, hot, buttered rolls, pumpkin and apple pies marching down the dessert table, and let’s not forget the sweet potato casserole!

However, for those who diets are gluten-free, Thanksgiving doesn’t necessarily hold the same excitement that it does for other food lovers.  (Something other people easily forget!) When cooking and baking in the days leading up to this food-packed holiday, the words “gluten-free” rarely cross any minds, except for those suffering from a gluten-intolerance or those striving to maintain a gluten-free diet.

In order to make this holiday just as enjoyable for your gluten-free family members and friends, why not cook some dishes specifically with them in mind?  Just because a dish doesn’t contain gluten doesn’t make it any less flavorful, after all. This year, stretch your creativity as a cook and surprise your guests with a tasty holiday that everyone can take part in.

Whether you’re the host, and gluten-free loved ones will be celebrating the holiday in your home, or you are a gluten-free host feeding others for Thanksgiving, there are some easy strategies you can use to transform your holiday into a day that everyone will enjoy.

These changes don’t have to revolve exclusively around food, either. Read on to find out how your Thanksgiving day can be big on festivities without leaving anyone out.

Strategy Number One: Conversation

On a typical Thanksgiving, family gossip is swapped around the table – who’s getting married, why isn’t someone getting married, why is she getting married to that guy anyway – at the same time the food is being passed. Unfortunately, this is most often the time those with a gluten-free intolerance get negative attention. Your grandmother cooked for eight long hours and you’re not going to eat anything? Is this what the doctors told you or do you just want to lose some weight? You look fine just the way you are, honey! 

Rather than make things uncomfortable for anyone who can’t eat gluten, or draw attention to your own intolerance, simply incorporate the gluten-free food right into the meal along with all the other dishes. This way, no one will notice what anyone else is or isn’t eating, and the normal family gossip can flow along just like it always does.

TurkeyStrategy Number Two: Turkey

Before gluten awareness, turkey was just what it is – turkey. People love it and it’s inconceivable to have Thanksgiving without it (a vegetarian family would disagree, of course). But for those sensitive to gluten, turkey can get tricky. Even though turkey meat is usually gluten-free, if the bird is stuffed with a bread-based stuffing, it will be both golden and gluten-infused by the time dinner starts.  Not only that, but certain turkey-raising methods leave trace amounts of gluten in the turkey itself.  Even if your host thoughtfully chooses a gluten-free apple-onion-and-fig stuffing, the meat itself could be glutinous.  Who knew?

To avoid making your host feel guilty for not taking this into account, give them a little heads up ahead of time.  If they choose an all-natural turkey, which isn’t much more expensive (and ultimately tastes better!), the meat will be safe for everyone. You can also ask them to avoid glutinous stuffing, and chances are, they’ll be more than willing to make this adjustment. This will include you in the most important part of the whole feast:  the bird!

Strategy Number Three: The Bread


Bread, breadcrumbs, and wheat-related foods are a big part of the Thanksgiving dinner. It’d be rather cruel to ask your host to forego the basket of rolls this year, simply because you can’t partake. Instead, make some gluten-free bread ahead of time.  Save yourself a bit of time by ordering a gluten-free baking mix for rolls and focaccia by our food artisan Bella’s Gluten Free.

You’ll still be able to enjoy a few rolls alongside your meal, and you won’t have to deal with questions like, “Are you really cutting calories on Thanksgiving?” If you’re hosting the big day, an easy way to incorporate glutinous bread into the feast for other loved ones is to enlist someone to bring them along. Family members are always happy to help out and all the guest will end up satisfied and full.

Strategy Number Four: The Master of The House

When you’re having Thanksgiving at your mom’s, grandma’s, or aunt’s house, it’s not up to you to make the rules. However, by speaking to whoever happens to be hosting ahead of time, and gently asking if they will be sensitive to your gluten intolerance, it’s likely that they’ll be happy to accommodate you.

If you do desire to plan all the aspects of the perfect Thanksgiving, just do it yourself! While it may mean a bit more work, in the long run, it’s probably worth it. Make a list of everything you want to cook, and be sure to include some dishes that aren’t gluten free. Don’t hesitate to ask others to contribute a few dishes – that’s what family is all about, and with a spread of both gluten and gluten-free dishes, no one will feel left out.  You may just surprise a few loved ones with how delicious gluten-free cooking can be, and everyone will have a newfound respect for you and the festive holiday you whipped up.

All in all, don’t stress too much about Thanksgiving. Sticking to a gluten free lifestyle can be tough, and festive family meals are often the most difficult challenge. Make sure you plan ahead and have enough to eat so you can keep a positive attitude.  That way, you can  you can pass that gluten free loaf of bread and keep on smiling.

Post to Pantry:  Stock up for a gluten-free Thanksgiving today by ordering a 4-pack of gluten-free baking mix for rolls and focaccia by our food artisan Bella’s Gluten Free–just $22.96!

Tara Heath is a freelance writer in Southern California. Although not gluten-free herself, she does have loved ones with gluten intolerance and loves looking up recipes she can make for them to enjoy. The holidays are some of her favorite times of the year! She contributes to the Candy Concepts Inc. blog, where you can find more of her work.

All Photos courtesy of Flickr and Shutterstock.

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