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Gluten Free Solutions to Holiday Meals: You Can Still Enjoy Thanksgiving

Enjoying holiday meals after a celiac or gluten intolerance diagnosis can be difficult. I know personally those first few years I just didn’t eat that much because I didn’t know how to make it safe for me to eat. Sometimes it’s “too much trouble” to change a family recipe or ask family to change recipes for your dietary needs. And when I was first diagnosed, there weren’t as many gluten free options as there are today, so it was even harder.

But after a few years, I figured out how to adapt my old favorite holiday recipes so I could still enjoy Thanksgiving meals with my family. Here are a few of my favorite recipe adaptations.

Green Bean Casserole

This is one of my favorite holiday dishes, but it’s also the trickiest to make gluten free. Those fried onions on top are definitely not gluten free and you also have to watch out for the cream of mushroom soup. It’s fairly easy to find a GF option for the cream of mushroom soup (Pacific makes a good one, available at most grocery stores). So the first few years, I just made this without the onion topping. I usually made 2 dishes – one with the onion topping for the rest of my family and one without, for me.

I’ve been able to find some GF fried onion options in recent years though. There’s a brand available on Amazon and Aldi’s store brand LiveGFree offers a GF option. Last year I bought some GF fried onions, but then I completely forgot to use them because I got so used to just making the casserole without them. This year I’m going to try the ones from Amazon.

You can also try making your own fried onions. I found a great recipe online:

Fried Onions

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 large onions, cut in half, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick™ Gluten Free mix
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place onions and milk in medium bowl; let stand. In deep fryer or 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil (2 inches) to 375°F.

In resealable plastic food storage bag, mix Bisquick, salt and pepper until well mixed. Drain onions. Place onions in bag; shake to coat. Remove onions from bag shaking off excess. Gently place half of onions in oil; fry 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining onions.

No matter which option you choose for the onions, just follow the traditional green bean casserole recipe and sub in your gluten free cream of mushroom soup and onion choice.

Gluten Free Turkey Gravy

This one’s easy peasy – when you’re done cooking your turkey, instead of mixing flour into the pan juices to create gravy, you can use a gluten free flour blend or cornstarch.

Trader Joe’s also offers a box of premade Gluten Free turkey gravy if you want to take the super easy route.

Apple Pie Options

Homemade apple pie is my favorite holiday dessert. There are several ways you can make a gluten free pie.

  1. Some stores, including Whole Foods, carry frozen premade gluten free pie crusts. These are good, but only offer a bottom crust. I’ve never tried this because I don’t know how you’d cover the top of the pie.
  2. You can make a homemade gluten free crust using any pie crust recipe. You just need to sub in gluten free flour. I’ve tried this a few times and I have to say the top crust turns out great, but the bottom crust seems to get too soggy.
  3. My favorite solution is to make an apple crisp instead of a technical pie. No bottom crust to worry about getting soggy and I make a crisp topping using gluten free flour and oats. This is absolutely delicious and my entire family loves it! I’ve shared the recipe for this before here.

Gluten Free Stuffing

You can find gluten free stuffing mixes in several specialty stores or online these days. My favorites come from Trader Joes, Williams Sonoma, or Mom’s Place. Of course you can also make your own homemade stuffing using any traditional stuffing recipe and sub in your favorite GF bread.

Bread Options

My family always served those delicious crescent rolls out of the pop apart can for holiday meals. So buttery, flaky and oh so tasty! Really good, fresh bread is still the thing I miss most since being gluten free. But there are some great options out there now. My family’s favorite is the mix for Red Lobster’s Gluten Free Cheddar Biscuits! This mix is easy to find at most grocery store chains, is easy to make and tastes just like the real thing.

There are tons of other options too though. If you like the crescent rolls, you can find a complete mix at Moms Place. This is one of my favorite sites for GF mixes. And while these crescent rolls are delicious, they’re just a little too much work for me on Thanksgiving when there are so many other things to make. They also carry a great mix for buttermilk biscuits, rolls, cornbread and other options.

Enjoy Your Holidays

I hope these recipe adaptations are helpful to you in finding ways to enjoy your favorite holiday meals again. I know being gluten free can be hard, especially if it’s a new thing for you. But you no longer have to miss out on your favorite dishes with your family just because you’re gluten free!

* I am not receiving any compensation for the links in this post. These are just some of my favorite gluten free resources/products that I’ve shared.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates.

Trista Gangestad

Originally from Florida, Trista Gangestad and her family moved to CO seven years ago and live on a small hobby farm with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband have 2 daughters, the oldest of which was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder. Trista has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and worked in Communications and Event Planning for more than 10 years before becoming a mom. Now looking forward to getting back into her career, she recently formed Hello Pumpkin, a freelance business providing promotion and design services for small businesses. Trista is also currently writing a memoir of her experience raising a special needs daughter. When this busy mom has time for herself, she enjoys sewing, crafting, shopping, drinking “candy coffee” and watching guilty pleasure TV shows.

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