Feasting Safely

By Susan J. Kraus, MSRD
The holiday season is a great time of year since it gives most of us a chance to get together with family and friends that we might not get to see during the year. People also enjoy the celebratory aspects of the season, like gift giving, decorating the home, and, of course, eating delectable and traditional meals.

What about those of us who need to avoid certain foods due to food hypersensitivities? There are people who have been diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances, and those who require gluten restrictions (such as people with celiac disease). People with these issues cannot “take a holiday” from their dietary restrictions even for one day; they need to abide by lifelong restrictions no matter what!

The good news is that although one might need to follow certain dietary guidelines in order to eat gluten free or avoid some specific food allergens, this does not have to spoil the holiday. There are enough alternative foods and ingredients available to make your meal very versatile and enjoyable. All it takes is a bit of planning and providing education and resources to those who might be preparing some of the meal or bringing some goodies!

If you are hosting a dinner at home:

1. To help you select some yummy recipes, there are many specialty cookbooks and publications that cater to those who need to avoid gluten and/or other ingredients. In addition, many websites pertaining to the specific food restriction will also offer seasonal recipes.

2. Many supermarkets offer alternative ingredients that you could purchase to prepare a specialty recipe. For instance, many of the supermarkets have various types of flours such as rice, corn, potato, tapioca, bean, teff, amaranth flours to replace wheat, rye or barley flours for someone needing a gluten free diet. More specialty supermarkets and some of the larger supermarkets also have entire aisles with foods that cater to special dietary needs.

3. It would be a good idea to have a “practice run through” with a recipe that you have never prepared in the past before the actual holiday event. It would also be beneficial to keep index cards of each recipe and add comments to them as to what you would need to adjust, and what your opinion was of the recipe.

4. In order to prevent any issues of cross contamination with other dishes that might contain gluten or other offending allergens, it would be wise to make the entire holiday meal devoid of that ingredient.

If you are going somewhere else for the holiday:

1. Make an effort to speak with the host/hostess re: the menu being served and, if possible, what ingredients are being used. Make it clear what you or another family member’s needs/dietary restrictions are to help the host understand what you can or cannot have. It would also be helpful to share recipes, special foods, and ingredients with the host to see whether he/she is willing to modify a current recipe.

2. Offer to bring a dish or two that you or your family member on the dietary restriction can eat.

3. Make certain you or your family member eat something prior to going to the holiday celebration. That way, if most of the meal is made of foods you can’t eat, you won’t wind up being hungry while everyone else feasts.

Below are some gluten-free recipes collected from some of my favorite websites. If a person has other food hypersensitivities, such as a nut or egg allergy, they might need to further modify one of the recipes:

Menu for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving:

* Mixed Greens with Tangerine Salad Dressing
* Roasted Turkey with Spice Rub
* Wild Rice Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms
* Sweet Potatoes with Apricots
* Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Grapefruit Gremolata
* Cornbread (GF and Dairy free)
* Pumpkin pie (GF and Dairy free)
* New England Apple Pie
* Fresh fruit

Mixed Greens with Tangerine Salad Dressing

1/4 cup fresh tangerine, clementine or orange juice
1/4 cup gluten-free rice vinegar
1 teaspoon gluten-free dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
freshly ground pepper
gluten free cayenne pepper
Minced scallions, to taste – one or two

Use romaine lettuce for the salad, mix all the dressing ingredients and pour on the salad. Toss and serve. You can add more scallions if the guests are onion lovers!

If your friends are not eating oil, omit the oil. If they prefer not to have onions, omit the onions. This dressing is great made with citrus and seasoned rice vinegar all by themselves.

It is always a good idea to check carefully with the manufacturers, or on the reputable internet-based gluten free food lists, to make sure that all ingredients are gluten free.

Ref: ABD; gfing.com

Roast Turkey with Spice Rub

For every 7-8 lb turkey, mix the following:
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon gluten-free prepared mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper
(it is always important to check that all spices are gf)

Rub this mixture on bird and roast as usual. The herbs will season the drippings in the pan and make an interesting gravy. Paprika gives an attractive color to the turkey. This rub can also be used for chicken and Cornish game hens.

Ref: Perla Meyers-From Market to Kitchen Cookbook, 1979, courtesy of gfzing.com

Gluten-Free Gravy

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
2 cups chicken stock (or juices from the roasted turkey)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pan on low to medium-low heat. When it has completely melted, sprinkle in the rice flour in small handfuls. Stir and stir. When you have added all the flour and the mixture has become smooth, let it cook in the pan for two to three minutes, stirring all the while. When it has cooked, it will be solidified and have a tinge of brown. Take the roux off the heat and let it rest for a moment.

Put the roux back on low to medium heat. Slowly, in small amounts, add the chicken stock (or turkey juices), whisking the mixture vigorously until all the liquid has been absorbed in the roux. Continue to do this, in small drizzles, until the roux has expanded and liquified into gravy. This will take awhile, perhaps ten minutes or so. Be patient. When you have reached the consistency you desire for the gravy, add salt and pepper. Taste the gravy, and season according to your taste. Take it off the burner and serve it, immediately.

(don’t use Kitchen bouquet, Maggi seasoning, or other instant gravy mixes-they all contain gluten)
Ref by Shauna--Courtesy of glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com

Wild Rice Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Dried pears lend a subtle sweetness to the deep, earthy taste of this stuffing.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 large onions (about 2 3/4 pounds), halved, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (crimini and stemmed shiitake), sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/3 cups wild rice (about one 8-ounce package)
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped dried pears (about 7 ounces; optional)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until very tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and 1 tablespoon thyme; sauté until mushrooms are deep brown, about 12 minutes. Add to bowl with onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring broth, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 2 teaspoons sage to boil in heavy large deep saucepan. Mix in wild rice; return to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Mix in white rice; cover and simmer until all rice is tender and almost all liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes longer. Stir in caramelized onions and mushrooms, remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon sage. Stir in pears, if desired. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup parsley.

To bake stuffing in turkey:
Loosely fill neck and main cavities of turkey with stuffing. Generously butter baking dish. Spoon remaining stuffing into prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish along side turkey until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing. Bake until top of stuffing is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

To bake all of stuffing in baking dish:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish, depending on recipe. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, about 20 minutes longer.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley over stuffing and serve.

Ref: Bon Appétit | November, 2001

Sweet Potatoes with Apricots

4 sweet potatoes or red garnet yams- cleaned, peeled, and baked
1 Tablespoon gluten-free orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 egg
Small amount of grated nutmeg
½ cup dried apricots/ diced and soaked in warm water for 1 hour and drained (discard soaking liquid and keep apricots)

Mash sweet potatoes or yams. Add rest of ingredients and mix thoroughly. Transfer mixture to buttered or greased casserole (a shallow one is best so mix is not too thick and will heat quickly).

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degree oven or until the mix is slightly brown on top.
Other dried fruits could be substituted for the apricots, such as cranberries, raisins, pears or use a combination of any.

Ref: Casserole Cookery Complete; courtesy of gzing.com

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Grapefruit Gremolata

Grapefruit zest stands in for lemon peel in the gremolata, an aromatic garnish.

3 medium Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, peeled, root end left intact, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, liquid reserved
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit peel
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 475°F. Place first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Add drained artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup reserved artichoke liquid, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper; toss well. Arrange vegetables in roasting pan. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Combine parsley, grapefruit peel, and garlic in medium bowl. Season gremolata to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer roasted vegetables to platter, sprinkle with gremolata, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Ref: Bon Appétit | February 2004

Cornbread – without gluten or dairy

Mixture A:
1 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 /4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon GF vinegar

Mixture B:
1/3 cup potato starch (this is not the same as potato flour)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt (or less depending on your taste)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons GF baking powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum (available at health food stores)

Oven: 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine Mixture A with Mixture B. Mix with a whisk to remove lumps. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 3o minutes (roughly) until a cake tester tests clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes at least, but serve while it is still hot.

Make sure all your ingredients are gluten-free!

Ref: ABD--Courtesy of gzing.com

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Yield: one two-crust pie shell:
Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup tapioca flour (tapioca starch)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch (katakuriko in Japanese stores – this is NOT the same as potato flour)
1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko flour – not the same as white rice flour)
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup gluten free margarine
1/2 cup butter
Liquid ingredients:
1 egg
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon ice water

waxed paper
sweet rice flour to sprinkle on the waxed paper
lots of sugar for sprinkling on the top of the pie

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with a fork. If you own a sifter, you could sift them together, but it is not necessary. Grate in the butter and margarine using a large cheese grater. Mix the dry ingredients and the shortenings up with a fork until the pieces of butter are distributed evenly – you don’t need to get the pieces of butter as small as they would be in a wheat crust. The size of “lima beans” may be a little large, but don’t go smaller than kidney beans!

Mix up the liquid ingredients until well combined, then pour them in to the dry ingredients and mix together. Squish the dough into a ball and wrap it up to store in the refrigerator for one hour. (For the record, we have made this crust in the winter and gone straight to rolling it out, without refrigerating it. You wouldn’t do this when the air is warm in the summer, but it is ok to do this in the winter when it is cold.)

Divide the dough in half.

To roll out this crust, spread out a piece of waxed paper, dust it with sweet rice flour or GF flour mix, or whatever comes handy, put one piece of the dough on top, sprinkle with more flour, spread another piece of waxed paper on top of the dough, and roll out with a rolling pin. * The dough is now contained between two sheets of waxed paper. Peel off the top piece of waxed paper, flip the crust on top of the pie plate, adjust it to fit the dish and remove the other piece of waxed paper. Your counter is clean, and your pie crust did not fall to pieces when you tried to put it in the pie dish!
Fill your pie, then repeat the pie crust rolling maneuver for the top crust. Cut pretty holes in the top crust before transferring it to the pie, if you wish. After putting the top crust on the pie, sprinkle the top crust liberally with sugar – maybe 2 – 4 Tablespoons. Cut steam vent holes in the crust, if you forgot to do it before, and then bake the pie. This crust gets nice and brown and crispy, and it has a delicious buttery flavor! You bake it as you would any other pie crust (about 50 minutes at 400 degrees, for a two-crust fruit pie.)

*Note about the rolling pin: We use a piece of dowel from the hardware store – makes a perfect rolling pin, and costs very little. The piece we purchased was being sold as “closet pole” and is 1″ in diameter and 18 inches long.
Ref: gfzing.com

Pumpkin Pie – dairy and gluten free

A one-crust unbaked gluten free pie shell (9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate is perfect)

1 can pure pumpkin (1 pound size – the “one-pie” size)
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups almond milk

For a standard pumpkin pie, made with evaporated milk or heavy cream, the recipe would use fewer eggs. For this pie, which uses almond milk instead, more eggs are required to set the filling. This pie also includes less sugar than standard recipes.

Mix all the ingredients for the pie filling together with a whisk, electric mixer or food processor until thoroughly mixed.

After the filling is thoroughly mixed, pour it in to the unbaked pie shell set in a glass pie plate. The filling will be quite thick and there will be enough for a deep dish pie. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 35 minutes or more, until the filling is set. If the pie is 9-inches and deep dish, it may take as much as an additional 20 minutes before the filling is set. To test the pie, dip a clean, dry, knife-blade in to the center of the pie. The knife should come out nearly clean, but little bits of filling clinging to the knife are ok. The top of the pie will start to crack.

Remove the pie from the oven. Cool completely. Pumpkin pie is an egg-based custard pie, so it should be kept chilled when not being served, and then brought to serving temperature.

If you prefer, you can use a one-pie can of squash, or 1 1/2 cups of home-cooked, mashed, drained pumpkin or winter squash (butternut, buttercup etc.). To use winter squash or sugar pumpkin, halve them and seed them, then bake or microwave until tender. Finally, remove it from the skin, allow it to sit overnight, then strain it thoroughly to remove excess liquid.

You can substitute 1 2/3 cups of 1% skim milk or gluten-free fat-free evaporated milk for the almond milk, and use 2 eggs plus 1/2 cup of gluten-free eggbeaters product for the eggs. Make sure the product is gluten free.

Make sure all the ingredients, including the spices, are guaranteed gluten free by the manufacturer. Certain manufacturers guarantee the gluten-free quality and accurate labeling of their spices. Read the internet gluten-free lists to find out which manufacturers are currently maintaining this level of quality.

Ref: Courtesy of gfzing.com

New England Apple Pie

8 apples – Use a mix of varieties like Northern Spy, a few Russet, Baldwin, Golden Delicious, a few Granny Smith and peel, core and slice them. Don’t use MacIntosh or Macoun varieties unless you use maybe only one of each – they don’t hold their shape when cooked and are better for making apple sauce.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch (available at health food or asian groceries)
1/2 teaspoon gluten free ground cinnamon

Line a glass pie dish with one piece of the pastry. Mix the apples with all the other ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Load up the pie shell with the apple mixture. Put the other crust on top, and cut several steam holes in the top crust.

Now, sprinkle the top crust with at least 2 Tablespoons of additional white sugar. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a cookie sheet as a drip tray in the oven to catch any overflowing juices.

Place the pie in the oven, above the drip tray. Bake for 50 minutes, and then check to see if the top is getting golden. The pie is done when the crust is becoming golden and the juices are starting to bubble up in a thickened sort of way. Some of the juices may be dripping over on the drip tray, and that is at is should be.

You can serve a slice of apple pie with cheddar cheese on the side, or melted on the top. That is always good. Also, you can serve pie for breakfast and it will be better

Ref: courtesy of gfzing.com

White Chocolate Chips& Macadamias Nut Gluten-Free Cookies

By Silka Burgoyne -Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes

Yield: 2 - 21/2 dozen cookies. Prep time: 10 min. Bake time: 12-15 min.

2 1/4 cup of Silka Flour Mix (2/3 cup of Brown rice flour, 1/2 cup each of white rice flour, tapioca flour, 1/3 cup of corn starch, 1/4 cup of potato starch)
1 stick of unsalted butter (melted) or 1/2 cup of oil
2/3 cup of light brown sugar
2/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of gluten-free vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking soda
1 1/2 of teaspoon of xanthan gum
1 cup of white chocolate chip
1 tbsp of milk (optional)
1/2 cup of macadamias nut (optional)- avoid if nut free

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheet with parchment pager or use nonstick spray to grease the baking sheet.

Mix melted butter, brown sugar and sugar until incorporated, add eggs and vanilla extract until blended

In a medium bowl, whisk Silka Flour Mix, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt

Stir the dry ingredients to the butter mix until incorporated.

Stir in white chocolate chip and Macadamias nut (optional) into the cookie dough

If the dough appears to be a little dry, add in milk but it's entirely optional

Use a tablespoon to scoop the cookie dough onto prepared cooking sheet, space them about 2 inches apart

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies turn golden

Cool cookies for 5 minutes before transferring them into a wire rack

There are several websites available to offer information, resources, and products for people who need to eat gluten free or who have to avoid other specific foods. Some of these include the following:

Nancy Lapid, former About.com Guide

Lowell JP. Against the Grain. Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1995.

Horvath K, Cureton P, and The Children’s Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation Celiac Campaign Scientific Advisory Board. Gluten-Free Diet Guide for Families.North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), Flourtown, PA.

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