A Thanksgiving Meal Without Allergies
Written by Elaine Hirsch, proud mom
Thanksgiving dinner should be a time when families can get together and enjoy good food, fun times, and be thankful for what they have. However, for families with food allergies Thanksgiving can also be a time of worry. One of many concerns is how to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal for children with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or other food allergies. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a master’s degree to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal without gluten, milk, or other common allergens with a little creative cooking.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and sometimes in contaminated oat products. It can cause discomfort in digestion for those with gluten intolerance and more serious effects in cases of celiac disease. Any product that contains wheat, with the exception of distilled products, will contain gluten. This includes wheat flour.
Therefore, when making your green bean casserole, consider using rice flour or brown rice flour to fry up your onions instead. Also, be sure to check the label on canned foods and cooking soups to make sure they don’t contain gluten or wheat flour. Sometimes preservatives in canned vegetables contain gluten, so do your research to make sure your ingredients are gluten-free. A good idea for dessert for the gluten intolerant is pecan pie with rice flour crust.
Milk is also a product that tends to be taken for granted in cooking, but for lactose intolerant children even a small amount could cause problems. There are alternatives to milk such as soy, rice, almond, or oat milk. It’s also good to keep in mind butter is real dairy, so be sure to find butter substitutes without milk. Seasoned roasted potatoes make a good alternative for normal mashed potatoes. For dessert, pumpkin pie with the substitution of coconut milk is classic and a favorite.
Other common food allergies include eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. While seafood isn’t typical Thanksgiving fare, many traditional Thanksgiving desserts are made with eggs and nuts. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires companies to show on the label if allergens are contained within the product, so be sure to check labels before purchasing anything for a Thanksgiving meal if someone in your family is allergic to certain foods. Fortunately the range of common Thanksgiving desserts allows for relatively easy substitution: pumpkin pie is safe for someone with a nut allergy, and banana pudding can be made without eggs.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a time of worry for those with allergic family members. Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, dressing, turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy can easily be prepared to be allergen-free, and if all else fails there are also many alternative dishes as well.
Elaine Hirsch is self-described as a kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and video games, making it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.