On Your Health

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Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Three million people in the U.S. are living with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when digesting gluten. Yet even more people suffer from an undiagnosed intolerance or sensitivity to gluten. With numbers like these, it’s likely that someone avoiding gluten may end up at your Thanksgiving dinner. We want to help you prepare delicious gluten-free dishes that will please both your gluten-free guests and everyone else at the table.

A quick recap about gluten

Gluten is primarily found in wheat, barley, rye, malt and brewer’s yeast, but can also be found in sauces, gravies, alcoholic drinks, soups and more. Gluten is a protein which is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come together to form a bond. When combined, the bond creates elasticity which gives foods, especially bread with gluten, their chewy texture.

Who needs to be on a strict gluten-free diet?

People who are diagnosed with  celiac disease should be most careful with gluten and foods that may have come in contact gluten. If someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it triggers an immune response, which is often severe and can cause gastrointestinal distress, cramping and inflammation.

For people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, reactions to gluten can vary. Symptoms can range from experiencing a little discomfort after eating bread to someone who must eliminate all sources of gluten because of severe abdominal pain and inflammation.

Thanksgiving guests with gluten allergies

More people are being diagnosed with a food intolerance or choosing to follow special diets for other health benefits. Although there are some restrictions, it’s helpful to know that a gluten-free diet is relatively easy to accommodate. Lots of classic Thanksgiving dishes are naturally gluten-free if prepared in their pure form with no additional sauces or pre-made seasoning packets. These gluten-free dishes include sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberries and even the main attraction — turkey.

Here are more naturally gluten-free food groups.

  • Most fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes and nuts
  • Rice and corn
  • Soy and potato
  • Gluten free oats
  • Nut flours

Gluten safety precautions provides tips on serving gluten-free meals, like clearly marking foods that are gluten-free, so there is no question about what is and what isn’t gluten-free. It’s also recommended that hosts place gluten-free dishes in a separate serving area, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Don’t forget about serving utensils — having one utensil for each dish helps prevent spoon swapping.

Preparing gluten-fee dishes

If you know several of your guests are gluten-free, it’s worth it to prepare gluten-free versions of staple Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing, green bean casserole, gravy and most desserts. Yes, even the pumpkin pie. It may be helpful to send your menu ahead of time, letting them know you’ve prepared special options for them.

With these dishes in mind, we’ve rounded-up gluten-free alternatives that you can prepare to satisfy all your guests. To be safe, always double-check food labels for hidden sources of gluten. (Click here for a printable copy of these recipes).

Gluten-Free Stuffing

  gluten free stuffing

Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole

gluten free green bean casserole recipe

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

gluten free pumpkin pie recipe

Gluten-Free Gravy

gluten free gravy recipe