Allergy Friendly Thanksgiving Tips
Delicious, Allergen-Free Turkey Day
On Thanksgiving, we gather and we eat for upwards of four hours, all the way from pre-dinner snacks to post-dessert dessert. But a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is literally one of the most allergen-laden meals possible.Whether this is your first allergen-free Thanksgiving or your twentieth, the following tips will help make it festive, mouthwateringly delicious, and safe.
Did you know that many fresh and frozen turkeys contain hidden allergens? Most conventional, “self-basted” turkeys have been injected with butter, water and salt, and may also contain gluten. If you’re going to go the conventional turkey route, always verify ingredients with the manufacturer before purchasing. A safer option is a “Natural” turkey, which hasn’t been treated with any artificial colors or flavor enhancing ingredients. Look for “Organic” natural turkeys at websites like Local Harvest, or stores like Whole Foods.
Another good option: natural “Kosher” turkey. Guaranteed to have no dairy injected, the benefit of a Kosher turkey is that it has already been salted, and thus doesn’t need brining. I recommend Empire, the taste test winner selected by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Empire turkeys are also gluten-free. If you’re a die-hard foodie, take the adventurous (albeit, most expensive) route and look for a “Heritage” turkey, which is one of the pre-World War II breeds of turkey, like Narragansett and Bourbon Red. Slow Food has a great listing of independent farmers raising Heritage turkeys, state by state. Looking for something similar to what our forefathers might have eaten? Save yourself the hunt, check out D’Artagnan, to purchase a wild bird.
Last, to keep your turkey allergen-free, baste with olive oil. There is no need for butter, and in fact I prefer turkey with olive oil.
Savory Side Dishes:
Make baked sweet potato and potato dishes using canola oil instead of butter, and orange juice or rice milk instead of milk or cream. I prefer yams/sweet potatoes without marshmallows, but if like them, look for Allerenergy marshmallows, or try vegan brands like VeganSweets, made without eggs or gelatin, but be forewarned that they contain the allergen SOY. Instead of plain rice, mix and match with old world gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, wild rice, and buckwheat. All of these combine well with legumes like lentils or chickpeas, and are wonderful when enhanced with fresh herbs like thyme and sage. Dip into the plentiful array of winter squash available this time of year–not just butternut and acorn, but delicata, red kuri, and sweet dumplings. For an allergy-friendly stuffing, check out my Cornbread Wild Mushroom Stuffing Recipe.
Gravy can be made with olive oil instead of butter, and alternate flours, such as brown rice flour for thickening, instead of traditional wheat flour. See my recipe for Allergy-Friendly Gravy below.
Try making roast brussel sprouts this year instead of drenching them in butter or hollandaise sauce. To roast, cook at 450 degrees on a baking tray, tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper, for 25 minutes, shaking once or twice until a crispy golden brown on the outside, and tender on the inside.
For cranberry sauce, omit walnuts (tree nuts), and use thinly sliced tangerines or mandarin oranges, keeping the rind on, to add texture and color.
For Pie, check out my cookbook, The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook for any number of wonderful allergen-free pie, crumble, and crisp recipes, from Pumpkin Pie, to Apple Cranberry Pie. Or see my Allergy-Friendly Sweet Potato Pie recipe, or Cranberry Apple Crisp.
Remember: if you’re only doing a few allergen-free dishes rather than a whole allergy-friendly meal, be aware of cross contamination and cross contact while cooking and serving. Consider labeling dishes with ingredient cards. If the meal is going to be served buffet-style, serve the food allergic person first to avoid cross contamination.
Allergy-Friendly (Gluten-Free) Creamy Gravy
Makes 1 1/4 cups
Gravy is one of those things that everybody loves. Even the thought of gravy can make you smile. In fact, the term gravy, in slang, means happiness, stable goodness, and a state of complacency.Gravy also means cool, okay, and all good, as in “It’s all gravy, baby”. If something is better than gravy, it’s gravy on eggos or gravy on rice. Who doesn’t want some of that coolness poured onto their plate?
But beloved gravy is also highly allergenic. Yup, it’s loaded with no-nos for those with food allergies. Butter (dairy), wheat (gluten), and cream/milk (dairy again). It’s also often chock-full of soy derivatives.So I took on the challenge to convert beloved gravy into something allergy-friendly. Just pour this yummy goodness over rice, potatoes, turkey breast, or do like me, and eat it with a spoon!
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup warm beef (or chicken or turkey) broth or stock (Kitchen Basics is allergy-friendly)
1/2 cup warm rice milk
1. Heat canola oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add brown rice flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 2 minutes, until golden and aromatic.
3. Add onion powder, pinch of thyme, pinch of cayenne pepper, pinch of salt, and a couple turns of freshly ground pepper. Cook about 1 minute more, stirring.
4. Reduce heat to medium. Using a whisk, whisk in the warm beef broth, in three batches. Whisk vigorously, to smooth out any lumps. Add warm rice milk, whisking, and bring to a simmer. Cook stirring often, until thick and creamy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Allergy-Friendly, Gluten-Free Creamy Gravy
© 2010 by Cybele Pascal
(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)
SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.