Avoiding Gluten This Holiday Season?

This month’s blog post is written by DSCC’s friend, Glen Prairie Restaurant

Cooking for the holidays is all about nostalgia and tradition. But what do you do when modern lifestyles and medical discoveries get in the way?

Ten years ago if you were to say gluten, people wouldn’t know what you were talking about. These days “gluten-free” is a phrase tossed around a lot. Whether you have Celiac Disease or just an intolerance to gluten, living a gluten free lifestyle isn’t always the easiest.

Here at Glen Prairie we specialize in gluten free dining. At any given time about 85% of our menu can be gluten free. I am here to share just a few tips and tricks to help you cook for the gluten free people in your life for the coming holidays

  • According to the Celiac Foundation Website gluten is “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.”
  • Gluten is found in common things such as breads, pastas, cereals, desserts, beer, and can be hidden in a host of other food items.

The best way to avoid gluten is by being educated about what gluten is, and reading the labels on any processed foods that you purchase. Most Gluten Free items these days will be clearly marked with “Gluten Free” label.

  • Local Grocers have caught on to the Gluten Free needs of their customers and now offer a host of items that cater to gluten intolerance. Meijer, Jewel, Mariano’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, no matter where you go there is a section in each dedicated to gluten free products. You can buy gluten free pasta, bread, snack foods, and even a variety of flour products to cook with.
  • The good news? Most unprocessed completely raw foods are naturally gluten free meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts. Which means your Holiday traditions are not lost. . . they just have to be altered for the current generation.
  • Why not try substituting All Purpose flour for a gluten free alternative? Coconut, Almond or Rice, just to name a few of the more popular substitutes. These can be used in sweet or savory applications.
  • Gravy: Need a way to thicken your gravy to help keep that bird moist? Instead of using traditional flour to thicken your gravy why not try one of the gluten free flour options? Or making yourself a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in either broth or water, pour into your unthickened gravy, and cook over med heat until it has thickened. Still not thick enough? Add a little more of the cornstarch slurry. Too thick? Add a little more broth or water to get the consistency you are looking for.
  • Stuffing: Every family matriarch makes it differently. To make this menu item gluten free it is as easy as picking out some gluten free bread at the grocery store. One of the biggest brands in gluten free bread to date is UDI’s. This bread can be found in the frozen food section of nearly ANY grocery store that you can think of.
  • Dessert: Making a cake, brownies or cookies? Substitute that regular AP or Cake flour for Almond or Coconut flour. Need a quick dessert? The Gluten Free section of your local grocer will offer a variety of readymade mixes to satisfy your craving.

Need more information on living gluten free? There are plenty of resources available online for you to learn more or have your specific question answered. There are entire sites dedicated to answering peoples questions about what is, and what isn’t gluten free.

Having someone in your family who is living the gluten free lifestyle, whether by choice or by necessity doesn’t have to ruin your holiday feast or put a damper on those family traditions. With a few changes to the traditional Thanksgiving menu your holiday will be back on track in no time.

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