That’s right, you read that right. I made it through my first gluten free holiday!
I was actually surprised how easy it was to make a Thanksgiving meal that was gluten free. Granted, the majority of the cooking was actually done by Aaron, so maybe I should amend that to say that it was much easier to modify the meal. Because, really, when you think about it, there are only a couple of traditional dishes that contain gluten. So, as an additional challenge, we tried to lower the amount of sugar and simple carbs of the meal. My father-in-law was visiting, and as a diabetic, I figured he’d appreciate having food in front of him that wouldn’t land him in the hospital.
So, what was on the menu?
We had turkey(of course). I purchased our turkey through a co-op that works with local farms. It was a 21 pound, broad-breasted bronze turkey from Bindel Farms. They state on their site about many customers commenting on having no leftovers, we are not one of them. The turkey was amazing, for sure, but there were only 3 adults at the dinner table. In our case, I think it is just better to say that we will utilize the entire turkey. Leftovers for years, broth, and a couple of very happy kitties that were treated to some organ meats. Aaron just did a simple brining, and roasted it in the oven. As much as I love all of the varieties of seasoning that are out there, it didn’t need it.
With turkey comes the desire for stuffing(or dressing, as it wasn’t actually stuffed into the turkey). This was my first dish to change. Stuffing recipes are pretty simple, though, and I had leftover bread from a previous bread-making folly. I used the recipe from this site, just cut in half. It was a success, overall, but next time I’ll add more seasoning, just as a personal preference. I’ll add that this was the only dish Aaron was stubborn about, so there was a batch of Stove Top stuffing made to appease his sensibilities.
Mashed potatoes were made, as well as a yam. The yam was also mashed, but kept topping-free in order to cut the sugar content of what’s usually there. No marshmallows here, although I did sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar onto my serving. I guess that was the dish I was stubborn about.
To get a vegetable in there, as well as whole grains, we skipped our usual broccoli cheese casserole. When all is said and done, you’ve got a lot of salt, a lot of fat, an idea of vegetables, and a ton of white rice. It’s amazing. It’s delicious. It’s probably one of the least healthy plates on the table during the holidays. I have full intentions of playing with the recipe, just to see if I can make it in a much healthier manner, but still have it be the delicious dish I grew up with and learned to love. Since I have yet to do that, we opted for acorn squash stuffed with pork sausage, sage, celery, onions, and quinoa. It may not be broccoli cheese casserole, but it is still delicious. In fact, I think was my father-in-law’s favorite dish(as well as the best for him).
Another surprise hit for us was the cranberry sauce. Aaron is used to the solid gelled mass from the can. While I won’t eat it, that is also what I think of when I think of cranberry sauce. Growing up, I remember watching in confusion as it was maneuvered from the can, onto a plate, then sliced up and fought over. Because I was looking at lowering the sugar content, this year’s cranberry sauce was vastly different, but oh so delicious. I found this recipe, and decided to give it a shot. I did have some minor variations, depending on what we had on hand(raw sugar instead of sucanat, mulled cider instead of apple juice), but I don’t think it suffered at all for having done them. Next time, I’m thinking of letting the apples cook a little longer, so they’re softer, and maybe adding a little ground chia to see what it’s like in a thicker form. Aaron liked it, even though it was a true sauce, so we’ll see about the chia. It’s really more because I like to throw chia into things.
Well now, we’ve made it through the dinner portion of the menu, but it’s Thanksgiving, and no one’s truly satisfied unless they’ve engorged themselves into oblivion by eating both a massive dinner, and and assortment of desserts. These desserts are usually pies, and we didn’t deviate from that stereotype. One apple pie and one pumpkin pie. Both gluten free.
For the apple pie, I totally cheated and used a frozen, pre-made crust. The filling was homemade, as it’s apple pie, not rocket science. The only snag we hit was when I realized that I only had the bottom crust. Since I was pretty much brain-dead at that point, it never occurred to me to use a streusel-type topping. Nope, I just covered it in foil, and hoped for the best. When I took it off towards then end of the baking time, I could see that I at least got adequate out of it. Lesson learned: Stick to making your own crust, you’ll be happier. It wasn’t the prettiest, but the flavor was good, so I really shouldn’t complain.
The pumpkin pie was the same recipe I’d used for Buddy-Roo’s first birthday. It’s a vegan, crustless, gluten free pumpkin pie from here. It is definitely one of those things that those that aren’t comfortable with the word “vegan” will shy away from. However, that just leaves more for the rest of us. My only future change for this would be to reduce the ginger a tad, but that just goes back to personal taste. A slice, made to the recipe, would still not be turned down by me.
So that’s it, that was our dinner. The only real travesty was that we forgot whipped cream for the pies. Other than that, it was definitely a wonderful meal, one that was well worth waiting for. What can I say? 21 pounds takes a bit longer to cook!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of you that take the time to stop in and see what I’m rambling about. I have been blessed to have an amazing family, and I am so glad to be where we are right now. I also want to thank the many bloggers and gluten free pioneers who have been so gracious to have made their recipes available to the rest of us. It has made the transition much easier for me and my family.
Now the real gluten free challenge is ahead of me: How do I survive the multitude of baked goodness ahead of me this month, and make it my own?