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Christmas Dinner Made Easy

December 21, 2011 by  
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If you have been gluten free for a while, you know that a great holiday meal is not as difficult as you thought it would be that first year. There is no reason to do without your old favorites. You just need to reformulate them. It may take some practice for some key items, so try out those important recipes before it’s time to serve them to your skeptical extended family.

The Italian side of my family prepares the Christmas dinner, so we traditionally have lasagna. We used to make the gluten free version and the “regular” version, but the gluten free version is so great, that we decided on just that one. We use Tinkyada gluten free lasagna noodles and gluten free bread crumbs and Udi’s gluten free bread for the meatballs. Against the Grain Baguettes are a must, along with Kinnikinnick Lemon Cheesecake (recipe on the back of their Graham Style Crumbs). It’s all delicious and doesn’t taste like we’re giving up a thing to make this feast gluten free.

If you choose the traditional turkey dinner for Christmas, here’s some great information for that meal.

Hosting a holiday celebration at your home makes it fairly easy to control the environment and the foods.

  • Make sure each item has it’s own serving utensil.
  • Keep gluten free items at one end of the table if serving buffet style.
  • Serve naturally gluten free items such as veggie trays.
  • Show your children what they can eat and don’t focus on what they can’t eat.
  • Make sure to have some special favorites for young gluten free eaters.

Being a guest in someone else’s home can be a bit more challenging.

  • Discuss the meal plans in advance with your host and confirm that they will not be offended if you bring many of your family’s altered favorites.
  • Choose what is most important and bring a few dishes to share, and don’t forget a great gluten free dessert.

Dairy Free: If your household needs to be dairy free as well, remember that you can substitute almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk for regular milk in almost all recipes. I prefer almond milk when I need a substitute.

Let’s Talk Turkey

  • Plain turkey is naturally gluten free, but read labels as some are injected with gluten containing broth or pre-stuffed
  • SOME gravy packets are gluten free, but not usually. Read labels, make your own gravy from scratch, or by premade gluten free gravy
  • Stuffed turkeys contain gluten

Gluten Free Turkeys

Here’s a list to get you started. Please add any brands you find that I’ve forgotten down in the comment section.

Butterball
From their FAQ: “Only two of our retail products currently contain gluten: Butterball® Frozen Italian Style Meatballs and Butterball® Frozen Stuffed Turkey. Our gravy has been reformulated to eliminate gluten, but certain gravy packets may still contain gluten; it will be listed on the ingredient statement. Give us a call or use the contact us form on this page if you’d like to check on a specific product.”

Empire Whole Turkey and Turkey Breast

Foster Farms
“Our fresh natural chicken, turkey and individually frozen chicken are gluten-free. “

Honeybaked Ham/Turkey
As of two years ago, their glazes are Gluten Free, and their meats have always been gluten free. They have many products with gluten – sides and gravies, etc, but not the ham and turkey.

Honeysuckle White
Honeysuckle White Turkeys are GF
“The majority of Honeysuckle White® products do not contain Gluten. [Terryaki flavored strips, tenderloin and meatballs, do contain gluten] Always refer to product packaging for accurate ingredient statements. We don’t use flour on the conveyor belts in any of our Honeysuckle White® processing plants.”

Hormel Foods
Cure 81 ham and Hormel Black Label Ham are gluten free. Click the link to see their GF product list.

Jennie-O
Their gravy packets “may contain gluten,” but most of their turkeys and hams are gluten free. Click link for complete gluten free list.

Perdue
“Many PERDUE® products are free of gluten. Perdue chickens, chicken parts and turkeys are all gluten-free.”

Plainville Farms
“Yes, our turkey is gluten free and casein free. However, our turkey gravy and our homestyle dressing contain wheat. Our marinated teriyaki turkey tenderloins contain soy. Please read the ingredients labels.”

Publix Brand Turkey Breast

Shadybrook Farms
“The majority of Shady Brook Farms® products do not contain Gluten.” Click the link to see their products that do contain gluten.

Gravy

I often talk to newly gluten free folks who think they have to give up gravy. Not so. Substitute cornstarch, arrowroot, or a gluten free flour mix in place of the wheat flour and your gravy is as tasty as ever. Personally, I usually avoid flour mixes with bean in them for gravy. They make the gravy taste a little pasty for me.

Buy some gluten free turkey gravy if you prefer. Here are some options. I find the Imagine brand at most grocery stores.

Gluten Free Condensed Soups

No need to skip that favorite Green Bean Casserole. Use Pacific Naturals Gluten Free Condensed Soups in your recipe and it tastes the same. For the topping I’ve heard of people using crushed FritoLay Funyons, or try almonds, gluten free bread crumbs, or crushed Rice Chex cereal. You can even make your own “fried” onions with thinly sliced and battered onions (in gluten free flour of course) and then broil in the oven or fry in oil.

Facebook friend Marcia Kridner claims to have reproduced the crunchy onion bits for the top of her green bean casserole. Here’s her secret:
“You take about 9 shallots and slice them in to 1/4 inch rings. and take 1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted. You heat about 4 inches of oil in a deep saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sizzling. Working in batches, seperate shallots into rings; toss with cornstarch to coat, shaking off excess. Add them to the hot oil Fry for about two minutes until golden and crisp. You can make these two days ahead and store in airtight container.”

Details of the Pacific Naturals Soups

Here’s a recipe for your own Casein free, Gluten Free Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup, if you prefer. (From Gluten Free Cooking School)

Stuffing

Skip turkey that has been stuffed with non-gluten free stuffing while cooking – even if you skip the stuffing.

It’s easy to make gluten free stuffing! My family favorite used to be nothing fancy – Pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing. Using Whole Foods bread stuffing cubes and this recipe, it tastes the same as we used to make it before! We used to make both versions, but all extended family members agree that the gluten free version is amazing, so we just make that one now. Click here for the recipe.

You can also make your own gluten free bread cubes by toasting a couple of loaves of cubed bread under the broiler in your oven – Or if you’re a corn bread stuffing person, Pamela’s makes a great corn bread mix.

Here are more gluten free stuffing recipes from last week’s New York Times blog.

Other side dishes

Here are a few others ideas if you are looking for more –

Pie Crust

Don’t be intimidated by making a gluten free pie crust! There are 3 pie crusts options that are my favorites. Kinnikinnick makes a new frozen fold out crust – just like the Pillsbury crust in the red box in the dairy case. Tastes flaky and great if you can find it. Here are the details.

My favorite pie crust mix is Inspiration. I’ve gotten this one at several stores in my area. Here are the details.

My favorite pie crust recipe is Grandma’s Pie Crust from Jules Gluten Free. Here’s the recipe.

If you have a Whole Foods store nearby, they carry several Gluten Free wonderful ready-made pies, Apple, Pecan & Pumpkin, as well as their own store brand pie shell in the freezer section, Gluten Free Bakehouse.

There are other desserts that are our family favorites that use other types of crusts. Here are some ideas for cookie crusts and graham cracker crusts. I’ve used all of these with much success.

  • Pamela’s shortbread cookies
  • Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies (like oreos)
  • Honey Nut Chex
  • Kinnikinnick S’morables or Graham Style Crumbs
  • Crumbled Chocolate Chip Cookies – any gluten free brand.
  • Nuts

Other Dessert Recipes

Here are our best pumpkin dessert ideas –

Take Along Gifts/Desserts to Share

Cookies
Visit Jules’ Gluten Free Cookie Swap on Facebook! Get tons of great new recipes to put in a pretty box or tin and submit some of your own for a chance to win great prizes.

DIY Cookie Gift Jars
Gather some large jars and layer with dry cookie ingredients from your favorite gluten free cookie recipe. Print up a nice tag on the computer with the wet ingredients listed and baking instructions. You can do this nicely with a gluten free cookie mix if you have a favorite as well. Pour it in a jar and add the chips or M&M’s in as a layer and just leave out the wet stuff.

Rice Krispie Treat Snowballs
I found this fun recipe on a non-gluten free blog. All you need to do is substitute the regular Rice Krispies for the new Gluten Free Rice Krispies and it’s gluten free. The recipe calls for White Chocolate Candy Melts and Wilton assured me in an email that all their candy melts are gluten free. If you use sprinkles on the outside as they did in the photo, check labels to make sure your sprinkles don’t contain wheat.

Peppermint Stick Hot Cocoa
Cute gift! Can be made in individual jars or a few servings in a larger jar.

Root Deer
Love this fun idea – ½ craft, and ½ drink and easy enough to do with your little children and great for neighbor or friend gifts. All IBC products are gluten free by claims of the company, but you can do this on any drink, including gluten free beer for your over 21 friends.

Fudge
Here’s a whole web site of fudge recipes! Easy to make and mostly gluten free, fudge makes a nice gift! Check your ingredients to make sure none of the add-ins are gluten containing (such as cookies), wrap in a cool box or tin, and you have a thoughtful homemade gift.

Chex Mix
Put together a tin of your favorite gluten free Chex Mix or Muddy Buddies, or try an adventurous, new recipe. Here are a bunch.

Peppermint Bark
Here’s just one recipe of this great Holiday favorite. Here are 3 more variations that can even be dairy free: Pretzel-Pecan Bark, Dried Fruit and Pistachio Bark, and Candy Can Bark.

DIY Gift Baskets
Gather your own favorite gluten free products and grab a large basket from the dollar store or craft store and you’ve got a great personalized gift. Some good ideas are:

  • Italian Food Lover’s Gift Basket – Various Tinkyada (my favorite) Pastas: Large Shells, Lasagna noodles, Penne, etc, Against the Grain Baguettes, Bottled Sauces, Bottle of Wine, Italian music CD
  • Cookie Lover’s Basket – Some boxes of your favorite gluten free cookies and mixes, cookie scoop, mixing bowl, measuring spoons/cups
  • Runner’s/Hiker’s Basket – Some of your favorite gluten free power bars, reusable water bottle, sport socks, gluten free trail mix with nuts, seeds, raisins, etc.
  • BBQ Lover’s Basket – Rudi’s, Udi’s or Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Buns, C-Dub’s Rubs (above), BBQ tools

Hostess Gift
The perfect hostess gift as far as I’m concerned: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Coffee Cake or New York Cheesecake. Yum! Wrap it up in some pretty red cellophane with a festive bow. If you come to my house, bring them both!

As always, this information is to serve as a guide only. Please double check labels yourself before consuming and products if you must abide by a gluten free diet.

Have any other great holiday tips? Add them in the comment section below.

 

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