Approximately 6 percent of the population, or 18 million Americans, have gluten sensitivity. During Thanksgiving, gluten-sensitive individuals know to avoid the dinner rolls, but do they need to say no to the turkey?
Contrary to popular belief, gluten isn’t just in bread; there are surprise gluten products everywhere, including beer, bouillon cubes, salad dressings, gravy, sauces, vegetable broths, desserts, non-dairy creamers and even some vitamins and supplements. Some Thanksgiving turkeys are even injected with gluten-filled broths.
Tips for an enjoyable gluten-free Thanksgiving
So, what’s a gluten-sensitive gourmand to do? For those trying to avoid gluten and still enjoy the Thanksgiving meal, here are a few tips:
- Beware of breaded foods like fish or meats that may contain regular flour. Use gluten-free alternatives to coat fish and meat, or when making gravy.
- Bake a gluten-free cornbread mix instead of the usual gluten-free bread options. Be sure to add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of cornbread mix to maintain consistency.
- Thicken sauces with corn flour or rice flour, instead of all-purpose flour; use the same amount as the recipe indicates for all-purpose flour.
- Make sure your turkey is gluten-free. Some turkeys are injected with gluten-containing broths or come with a gluten-filled gravy packet. It is best to make your own gravy so you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
- Add some flair: Try using yogurt to thicken a casserole and enjoy the creaminess and texture it brings.
- Don’t forget to include potatoes or mashed yams as a side dish. They are naturally gluten-free.
- Read food labels and do your own investigation before eating any meal.
Living a gluten-free life doesn’t have to mean skipping the traditional Thanksgiving fare. With careful preparation, you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods without fear.
Esther Tinsley, RDN, MS, is a dietitian at Sharp Coronado Hospital.