When planning a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast, part of the fun stems from the creativity it takes to accommodate a wide variety of dining preferences, diets and traditions. Whether you are planning to cook for a small handful of people or a much larger crowd, the holidays provide us with an opportunity to make things for which we don’t ordinarily have the time or inclination. With so many fantastic online resources at our disposal, it is now easier than ever to let our imaginations run wild in the kitchen. But first thing’s first: the grocery shopping.
If you are hosting a gluten-free guest this season, or (better yet) if you are planning to serve an entirely gluten-free Thanksgiving meal, there are certain things you must pay close attention to at the grocery store. To help make your shopping trip a bit easier, we’ve got some useful tips:
Know your grains: Quinoa, amaranth, rice and millet are all naturally gluten-free. However, other whole grains such as spelt, barley and farro may be tasty and nutritious, but they are unfortunately not gluten-free and should therefore be left out of your gluten-free dishes.
Watch out for pre-packaged mixes such as gravy packets, as they almost always contain wheat. Instead, try making your own gravy at home – you may find that it is easier than you thought, and far tastier. To get you started, Gluten Free Girl has a wonderful gluten-free gravy recipe.
Read the labels. If you are cooking for someone with celiac disease, you will want to pay extra close attention to labels. Even if you think the product you are purchasing should be naturally gluten-fee, keep an eye out for notices like “manufactured in a facility that also manufactures wheat” – and if possible, avoid those things. Furthermore, keep in mind that some inexpensive turkeys may contain fillers that have gluten in them.
Look for opportunities for cross-contamination (like in the bulk aisle, where it is easy for customers to mix up the serving utensils) and avoid those.
Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re buying something in a can that you think should be gluten-free (like cranberry sauce) but are not absolutely sure, call the company (or Google the website on your smartphone) to ask before buying.
Take the opportunity to try new things! As mentioned before, cooking for a large group can help spark creativity. So while Thanksgiving is full of family traditions and recipes, don’t be afraid to incorporate a new dish or two that makes good use of gluten-free ingredients.