Cook the Thanksgiving dinner yourself.
This is the only surefire way to ensure that your Thanksgiving will be both gluten-free and filled with tasty menu items that you will enjoy. You will run the show, which means that you can filter what comes into the kitchen, and what makes it onto the dining room table. If you will be a guest at someone else’s home for Thanksgiving, speak with the host about your gluten sensitivity ahead of time.
Make some gluten-free side dishes yourself. Many times, the host is overwhelmed with planning the Thanksgiving menu and preparing all of the dishes for a crowd. Chances are that your offer to bring some gluten-free dishes will be welcomed.
Contact your local grocery store and inquire about gluten-free turkeys. Do this well in advance of the holiday so that you are not scrambling to pull it together at the last minute. Most grocery stores, even if they do not regularly carry gluten-free turkeys, are willing to take orders from customers with special needs. Many grocery stores now carry gluten-free foods, including turkeys, as a result of increased awareness about gluten sensitivities in recent years.
Make sure you read all of the ingredients on turkeys, as some brands include gluten products in the processing of the turkey. Be aware of hidden sources of gluten. If there are any ingredients on the list that you do not understand, do your research. Aside from reading labels, the only way to be sure that your turkey is 100% gluten-free is if it is labeled as such by the manufacturer.
Plan a menu that is heavy on vegetable dishes.
Vegetables are very versatile and their flavor can be enhanced
with minimal ingredients. Research ways to modify traditional
holiday vegetable dishes, such as a green bean casserole.
In place of the pre-packaged battered and fried onion slices that are normally added to this dish, opt for fresh onions sliced and lightly fried in olive oil without the flour coating. Or, if you really wish to maintain the authenticity of the original dish, substitute wheat flour for corn flour or any other flour that does not contain gluten. The flavor of vegetable dishes like this one will not be altered much, if at all, by a simple flour substitution.
Stock up on gluten-free baking ingredients.
Once again, you may have to do some homework, but gluten-free brands do exist, and can be readily purchased at many main line grocery stores. In light of all of the attention given to Celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities, foods and ingredients that are gluten-free are now becoming easier to find. Awareness of these conditions makes items such as gluten-free flours, sauces, spices and pastas readily available on grocery store shelves.
Prepare gluten-free gravy from scratch.
Unfortunately, there are many brands of gravy mix and jarred gravy that contain a lot of gluten products. The basic component of gravy that serves as the thickening agent is the flour. Most brands use wheat flour to thicken the mix, however, you can use corn flour in its place. Corn flour is just as effective as wheat flour in terms of its cooking properties. If you don’t have time to prepare your gravy from scratch, check with your local health food store for gluten-free gravy mixes.
Consider cooking two separate meals, rather than just one giant non-gluten meal, if there are some traditional dishes that you feel your guests must have. Today there are many more individuals following a gluten-free diet than there was 10 years ago, so there is a good possibility that you will not be the only person avoiding gluten on Thanksgiving. Preparing two meals is a good way to offer both options to meet everyone’s needs for the holiday meal. This may require a lot of kitchen space, so be prepared to use every available inch. Also, this has the highest probability of cross contamination, so be sure to be very thorough when cooking.
Rather than having one large dish of traditional stuffing, you can offer a half dish of traditional and a half dish of gluten-free stuffing. Adjust the portion sizes of each according to the amount of people who will be eating the gluten-free version.