Who’s Coming to Dinner? A Gluten-Free Guide for the Gluten-Eating Hostess

glutenfreehostess

It’s all set, Thanksgiving is coming up and you are hosting it.  Yay for you!!  Now you realize that you have a newly diagnosed celiac or gluten-sensitive guest coming and you are really not sure what gluten even is, or if you are serving it.  Most likely, you are.  Here is a quick guide to what that word means and how to kick out the gluten and still have a turkeylicious holiday:

Gluten:  a protein contained in wheat, rye and barley.  Gluten helps foods maintain their shape.  It is a glue that holds food together.  There are people who have celiac disease, and then there are people who are gluten sensitive.  There are also people who avoid gluten, not due to any diagnosis, but simply because they have listened to their body and feel better without it.  In any case, those who follow a Gluten-Free-Diet completely avoid gluten.

Don’t stress dear Hostess, it is very simple to change some things around and create a delicious gluten free meal that the whole family can enjoy.  Label reading is a must – even down to the smallest ingredient.  So pay attention to the brands you usually buy, you might need to switch it up a bit when it comes to staples such as stock and gravy mixes. Don’t sweat it.  It’s really simple to change it up, make it gluten free and delicious. PS- total hint – whole foods and a few good gluten free brands are the key!

How to Make Your Thanksgiving Gluten Free

  1. It’s not all about the main dish:  Keep those hands from picking off the turkey or Tofurkey when it comes out of the oven – here’s a quick appetizer that goes great with a glass (or 2) of wine:  Fresh cheddar and Monterey jack cheese slices, olives, Schar table crackers.  Another great idea (here is the health coach in me talking) is to put out fresh fruit and veggies. 
  2. Thicken your gravy the gluten free way:  Simple replace wheat flour with cornstarch or brown rice flour to beautifully thicken gravy for your meal.
  3. Read ALL labels – even spice mixes.  Many salt mixes can contain MSG, a no-no for those avoiding gluten – in fact it should really be a no-no for anyone basing their meals on whole, and chemically free foods.  And yes, that can of soup you might use for that green bean casserole is definitely a big NO here. 
  4. Keep it local:  Find a local store (like Natures Nutrition, here in Brick, NJ) that stocks many gluten free options, such as chicken stocks, pie crusts or stuffing mixes.  Talk to the staff who can get you in the right direction.
  5. Find recipe resources online:  The internet is a funhouse of recipes for anything you are looking for – search “gluten free’” and you will totally see what I mean.  Pin your favorites (like this Pumpkin Pie recipe) onto Pinterest and keep your own “Gluten Free Goodies” folder there. 
  6. Ask your gluten free guest:  Here’s the real deal – as someone who is gluten free, it feels good when the host contacts me before an event to pick my brain on what I am able to eat safely and asks for ideas.  And of course I bring something to the table as well.
  7. End on a sweet note:  I’m talking dessert, of course.  There are many gluten free recipes online, just like the yummy pumpkin pie linked above.  But think fresh – berries and fresh whipped cream on top of a marble cake.  And don’t forget to help out your digestion in a sweet and simple way (even my kids love this one!) – Grab a 1” piece of fresh ginger, cut off the peel and plop the ginger into a coffee cup- pour boiling water over the little chunk of ginger and let it sit for a few minutes.  Ta-da!  Beautifully simple and sweet digestive aid.

Finally, enjoy!  You might notice with a gluten free meal that you, the Gluten Eating Hostess, might not feel as bloated or full afterwards.  This is good.  Maybe cutting out some overly processed foods would be good for you digestion in future meals.  Go with how you feel. 

The holidays are about food, family and friends.  My wish for you is that you are surrounded with love this Thanksgiving. Namaste.

In health & happiness,

Gina