Odds are if you host a gathering for Thanksgiving that one or more people will have some dietary restrictions. It could be an allergy, keeping kosher, being vegetarian, or diabetic. I am here to tell you that making small accommodations are easy, not to mention thoughtful at this time of year.
Last year when I went to Butterball University I was able to ask about the turkeys and I learned that Butterball turkeys are gluten-free. This is not the case with some other brands– they are dusted with flour during the processing. This is not something that you would necessarily consider unless you are allergic to wheat or have Celiac, an auto-immune response to gluten that presents somewhat like an allergy.
How has being diagnosed as Celiac changed my Thanksgiving feast? Probably not as much as you would imagine. The biggest change I have made is not stuffing my turkey and instead preparing two different stuffings in two different baking dishes– the traditional one that my family has always enjoyed and a special gluten free one that I can eat, as well as share. This year I am making a Mexican Cornbread Stuffing, modifying the original recipe only slightly. No one else would even notice. I will serve traditional dinner rolls to everyone else and have my own special gluten free roll.
But what do you do if you are cooking for a large group of people with various allergies or dietary restrictions. The easiest thing to do is simplify. Dairy allergies? Ditch the traditional mashed potatoes and serve roasted potatoes, a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes is delicious. Serve a clear soup instead of a creamy one. Corn on the cob is a better alternative than the creamed corn chowder. And don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring along a side dish that they can eat.
When you set up your buffet table, write the ingredients on a placard along with the name of the dish. Ask your guests to do the same for any items they bring with them. By doing so, your guest can look at the ingredients in each dish and not feel like they are bothering you. And anyone who enjoys a particular dish can jot down the recipe and add it to their own repertoire.
What about dessert? Baking with allergies in mind can be difficult and time consuming. Don’t toss out the traditional pumpkin pie or the apple torte that has been passed down for generations. Find a bakery that specializes in allergy free desserts and buy your allergic guest something special.
Remember the meaning of the holiday– giving thanks. Show your loved ones how thankful you are for their presence by accommodating their dietary needs.