a gluten free thanksgiving

November 21, 2011

The first holiday season I had to spend gluten free was a difficult time for me. As someone who has always looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, I knew my experience would be much different than it had in the past. On Thanksgiving in 2009, I had only been gluten free for a little over a month, and everything was very new to me. I was overwhelmed, uninformed, and had no idea how I could survive the holiday season without my favorite dishes.

I would be lying if I told you my first gluten free Thanksgiving wasn’t spent pouting and crying a little bit because I couldn’t eat anything that was served. While childish of me, I was still in a stage of “mourning” (for real.) of not being able to eat gluten, which made me stubborn and uninterested in solving my own stinkin’ problems.

I wish I had the knowledge I have now about a gluten free lifestyle back then — and I do have to tell you my holiday season last year was much easier than the previous year. I did, however, have to be proactive and realize that I was going to have to figure out a way for myself to eat instead of waiting for someone to volunteer to make a whole gluten free Thanksgiving just for me.

Wondering how to make your first gluten free Thanksgiving a success? Here are some thing that helped me out over the past few years.

Be willing to put in some extra work: While my aunt is usually in charge of all things Thanksgiving, I figured there was not time but the present to start helping her out in the kitchen each Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I put in the time helping her so I am able to eat some dishes at the dinner table on Turkey(less) Day. I also don’t want to be left without anything to eat at dessert, so I always plan to make a gluten free dessert (be on the lookout this week for one to bring to your celebration!) for my mom and I (and anyone else!) to share.

Make your old favorites gluten free: The worst part about that first gluten free Thanksgiving was watching everyone else eat all the things I loved to eat the most. There is something so comforting about eating the same meal at Thanksgiving every year — the foods I grew up eating bring back so many memories of laughs shared with family members around the dinner table. Instead of being upset, I now bring ingredients to my aunt’s the day before to make gluten free stuffing, gluten free/vegan gravy, vegan mashed potatoes, and gluten free/vegan broccoli “cheese” casserole. It might not be “the same”, but my meal options are pretty darn close to the real thing, and I savor every bite.

Introduce your family to new dishes: A lot of times families, including mine, eat the same dishes each year at holiday meals. However, if you’re willing to make something — try bringing a new dish that could become part of the tradition! I have made a few Thanksgiving worth dishes in the past few weeks that could work to bring to a family get together.

Autumn Salad with Chickpeas, Apples, and Golden Beets

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Maple Roasted Squash Rounds with Rosemary

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Maple Infused Butternut Squash and Apples

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Balsamic Maple Glaze

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Creamy Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip

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Just Be Thankful:
When it comes down to it, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks (obviously) for the wonderful family and friends you have and for the time you are able to spend with them. While the food is a huge part of the day (at least for my family!), it is second to the time and love you get to share together.  Focus on the laughter and the reminiscing as much as you can.

Question: How do you and your family make the holidays memorable? Do you look forward to a family favorite dish during the holidays?

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