Thanksgiving Survival Tips

Courtesy National Newsletter
holidaydinner Thanksgiving is often a time to join with your extended family but it can be a challenge to deal with people who don’t understand all the details of the gluten-free diet.

Is it all right to eat turkey that has been stuffed with wheat bread stuffing?

Truthfully, we don’t know if the gluten from the stuffing seeps through the turkey meat or into the juice used to make gravy. The big concern is that traces of the bread stuffing get onto turkey when the turkey is stuffed. This is a messy process and stuffing-covered hands touch most parts of the turkey. It can also be messy to remove the stuffing, spreading bread crumbs around. These crumbs contaminate the meat as the turkey is carved. We recommend that you do not eat a gluten-stuffed turkey.

There are a number of alternatives:

  1. Bake the stuffing outside the turkey. This is also recommended to avoid food poisoning from salmonella or campylobacter. You may need to add more broth to the recipe to keep the mixture from drying out. Pour an extra cup or so over the top of the mixture just before you put it in the oven.
  2. Substitute gluten-free bread for wheat bread in your regular stuffing recipe. By the time the bread is mixed with other ingredients and baked, it is difficult to tell the difference. Toasting the bread cubes can make the stuffing hold together better.
  3. Try a new stuffing recipe. Here is a recipe with variations that should suit almost any family.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is often the second star of the meal. If you are using canned filling, make sure you buy plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling. At least one commercial filling contains wheat, listed on the ingredient list.

If you are looking for a crust alternative, try a crumb crust made with crushed cookies or check out June William’s pie crust recipe from the CCA web site. If you prefer a lighter pie, this crustless version can be made with pumpkin from any manufacturer.

Joining in

One thing that is very important is that you don’t use the holiday as an excuse for cheating. Your family will get even more confused if you tell them you cannot eat anything made with wheat, rye, barley or oats and then they see you eating something that contains wheat. Even if you end up bringing your own plate of food so that you can safely join in the festivities, focus on the event. Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving, even without the stuffing, but it is not the same without everyone at the table.

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About David E. Fowler

Kelowna Celiac Webmaster