A few weeks back I posted a preliminary version of my Thanksgiving Meal plan. Perhaps you caught the mention there of a gluten free dressing I was contemplating. My son-in-law has a few health issues and is staying away from gluten as much as possible.
My original thought was that I would make two dressings and one of them would be gluten-free. Then as I looked at our menu, I decided to make the entire meal gluten-free. After all, what would it take to make dressing, gravy, and two pie crusts that were gluten-free? That’s all I needed because the rest of my menu is naturally gluten-free.
So I decided to make it a challenge:
Can Thanksgiving Be Gluten-Free and Taste Delicious?
I started by asking friends on Facebook what suggestions they had. I got suggestions such as using gluten-free bread for the dressing and then finding gluten-free pie shells at Trader Joe’s. All good ideas. But I do very little meal preparation that requires processed foods. And regardless of the source, a prepared bread or pie shell is a processed food.
What can I say? I am picky on my ingredients. I have always made cornbread dressing using cornbread that I made myself. I used to buy pie shells or pie crusts, but once I learned more about the ingredients – especially the questionable oils – I went back to making my own. And they turned out pretty good. The exception to that is a graham cracker crust for my Key Lime Pie.
I recalled that the farmers market we frequent has a vendor, HGD Foods, that is totally gluten-free so I decided to start there. I bought a gluten-free corn bread mix, gluten-free cornmeal and gluten-free flour. My husband asked me about the gluten-free cornmeal. So I explained that cornmeal is naturally gluten-free but this cornmeal was prepared in a facility that uses NO gluten-containing products.
I wound up making two batches of cornbread – one from the mix I bought and one using my recipe and their cornmeal and flour. Both were good, but my recipe was better. I nearly always find it true that my recipe from scratch is better than a mix.
For the gravy, I used the ‘flour’ that I bought at the farmers market. Worked wonderfully and made a delicious gravy.
Now for the pie crusts. I planned two pies – Pecan Pie and Key Lime Pie. Pecan Pie is a requirement for Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house. And Key Lime Pie is my husband’s favorite. Besides, we needed plenty of pie for 6 people and a couple of days of eating pie! I had seen many people suggest pie crusts made with almond flour so I searched the internet for almond flour pie crust.
For the Pecan Pie, I wanted a simple pie crust. My usually one consists solely of whole wheat flour, salt, butter, and water. The first thing I learned in my search is that you’re not going to be able to roll out a pie crust made with almond flour. That can be good news if you’re not good at rolling pie crust. It’s a talent that I only mastered within the past 5 years or so. I found many, many recipes on the internet. Some were simple and others were rather complex. I settled on a Paleo Pie Crust from Elana’s Pantry. I chose it because it was simple and also because I have seen people I know and trust mention her website and recipes. It has only 4 ingredients: almond flour, salt, coconut oil, and egg. I’m allergic to coconut so I made mine with melted butter instead of coconut oil. Mine did not look near as pretty as the one pictured with the recipe, but it tasted delicious. So good, in fact, that I may keep using that recipe!
For the Key Lime Pie, I don’t have such a good report. I searched for a graham cracker like crust using almond flour. I found one, but the results were not as good as expected. It didn’t stop anyone from eating the pie, mind you. I don’t think any pie has ever gone to waste at my house. Well, except the time Dad left Coconut Cream Pie at our house. At any rate, if I ever want to make another pie like that, I will have to keep searching.
So, the question was: Can Thanksgiving Be Gluten-Free and Taste Delicious? And the answer is a resounding YES! You don’t have to take my word for it though. Just ask anyone that was at the table!
What do you think? Have you tried to make gluten-free dishes? How did the turn out? What were your biggest stumbling blocks?