If you’re not dairy and/or gluten free, chances are you know someone who is and if they’re coming to your house for Thanksgiving, it can be super stressful! You want to be sensitive to their food allergies and sensitivities, but I’m sure you also don’t want to eat a completely gluten/dairy free meal yourself. While they would likely never expect that you accommodate all of their dietary needs, there are a few things you can do to make them feel more welcome and to make their meal more enjoyable.
Today, I’m teaming up with Heinen’s to help you to better understand how to accommodate them while still satisfying the rest of the crowd for your Thanksgiving feast. With just a few adjustments, your gluten/dairy free friend or family member will have something to eat while everyone else remains happy that it still tastes like the traditional meal!
This will be my sixth year making and eating a gluten/dairy free Thanksgiving meal and I feel like I finally have it down. My husband always requests “real” mashed potatoes with butter and cream and the classic green bean casserole (which I don’t even like). As long as I accommodate those requests, he’s happy and doesn’t notice or mind what I do to the rest of the meal!
Meet your new dairy free friend, ghee. Ghee is a type of clarified butter and it is made by removing almost all of the milk solids, leaving only the butterfat behind. Very pure ghee is 99-99.5% pure butter oil, with only trace amounts of casein and lactose (the milk proteins that are known to trigger reactions to dairy). Because of this, unless a person is extremely sensitive to dairy, ghee will normally not cause problems for someone who is dairy free.
The reason I love ghee is that it tastes like butter, it comes from a natural source (meaning no chemicals!!), and it can easily be substituted for your Thanksgiving meal. Let face it…there’s a ridiculous amount of butter involved on Thanksgiving Day!!
Use ghee instead of traditional butter to prep your turkey. I like to slather my turkey in an herbed ghee. I season the turkey with salt and pepper and slather it with a combination of minced garlic, thyme, rosemary and a few tablespoons of ghee. I rub the herbed ghee under and on top of the skin and then follow typical cooking instructions. Also, if you’re expecting someone who does not eat gluten to enjoy your turkey, do NOT stuff it with dressing. Due to the cross contamination with bread, they will not be able to eat it!
Growing up, my mother always pan fried the sweet potatoes in butter for our Thanksgiving dinner. Ghee can also be used for this as well, especially because it has a very high smoke point, making it perfect for frying! Personally, I like to keep things easy with my sweet potatoes and I usually just toss them in EVOO, salt and pepper, and then roast them in the oven. I also add a few red skinned potatoes for me since I make traditional mashed potatoes with loads of dairy to please my other half.
Every year, I use this recipe for my gravy base and it never disappoints. In lieu of the flour, I add a cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken the gravy. You can also use gluten free flour. I also swap out the butter for ghee. I know some folks (I’m talking about the grandmas out there) are purists when it comes to gravy. If you’re worried about messing with the gravy and subsequently not pleasing everyone else who is coming to dinner, try a packaged one like the brand pictured above instead. Your gluten free guest will be touched that you thought of them and won’t mind at all that it’s not homemade!!
Dressing can be the trickiest dish to make gluten-free and honestly, no one is expecting that you make gluten free dressing for everyone. It’s my absolute favorite part of the meal though so I have worked to improve it every year and I have finally mastered it with this as my secret weapon!
Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Gluten Free Bread is the best option I have found to make gluten free dressing. I cube the bread, then let it sit out for about 36 hours to get nice and stale, just like my Mom used to do. I then use the bread cubes to make my Mom’s traditional recipe: I saute an onion and some celery until soft and then mix it with the bread, some poultry seasoning, salt/pepper and chicken broth and then bake it in a casserole dish for about an hour. The trickiest part of gluten free dressing is to prevent it from getting pasty and this bread held up to that challenge!
Pumpkin Corn Bread
I always like to have some kind of pumpkin bread to serve along the meal for something a little sweet to balance out the savory. I typically just buy a boxed gluten free corn bread mix and add in one cup of pumpkin puree and one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice with the other ingredients and then bake it according to the package directions.
I hope this helps to give you a few ideas regarding how to be sensitive to dietary restrictions without sacrificing the taste and quality of the meal. Don’t be afraid to ask your family member or friend how you can help so they feel more welcome and at ease. They will definitely appreciate you thinking of them! They also may prefer to just bring their own food, particularly if they are very sensitive to gluten and are very strict about shared cooking surfaces. It can literally take a few crumbs of gluten to trigger a reaction in someone with Celiac Disease. Don’t be offended if this is the case. You can always share the wine!