Thanksgiving & Gluten: Avoiding Digestive Disaster

With Thanksgiving only a few days away (crazy, right?), people all across the country are stocking their kitchens with all the fixings for the biggest home-cooked meal of the year. In just a few sweet days, we’ll be eating turkey, cornbread, stuffing, green bean casseroles, cookies and pies — and most of that eating will take place in one sitting. And we have to admit, that all sounds pretty delicious. But is our Thanksgiving meal really something our bodies will be thanking us for eating later?

1372787_21894386All the above foods, right down to the basting broth used for the turkey, contain some form of gluten. Gluten is the binding protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. These four plant based foods are found all over the shelves of grocery stores and are ample on your holiday table. It doesn’t matter how much corn you add to the muffins, or how many green beans you layered before you seasoned the casserole, gluten plays a big role in the taste and content of traditional Thanksgiving dishes. And gluten, whether eaten day after day or in just one big meal, may cause the gut to inflame.

So what is one day of inflammation? For some, that day of inflammation, could really mean, a day of some slight digestive distress and a little bit of brain fog, but for others it could mean a flare up in joint pain, pounding headaches and unsettling exhaustion. As for the long-term effects of eating too much gluten, well, that is unclear. Does that mean you have to cut gluten completely out of your diet? Unless you have a wheat allergy, Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, probably not. But limiting your intake is not a bad idea.

So this Thanksgiving, show your body a little thanks and kindness. Take a glance at these gluten free recipes from Living Without and see if you can find a way to include them on your table this year.

[dropdown_box expand_text=”Butternut Squash Dinner Rolls” show_more=”” show_less=”” start=”hide”]

  • 2 ⅔ cups Multi-Grain Flour Blend
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) quick-rising yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar or evaporated cane juice
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • ½-¾ cup warm hemp milk or dairy- free milk of choice (100°F)
  • ¼ cup sunflower oil or oil of choice

1. Lightly oil a muffin tin.

2. Combine flour blend, xanthan gum, yeast, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set it aside.

3. Combine squash puree, ½ cup milk and oil in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.

4. Add dry ingredients and blend until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. If batter is too thick, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency but no more than 1/4 cup (3/4 cup total).

5. Pour batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling cups no more than 2/3 full. Use all 12 cups.

6. Place dough in a warm, moist spot and let it rise for 25 to 35 minutes until batter reaches the top of the muffin tins. With 5 minutes left to rise, preheat oven to 375°F.

7. Place rolls in preheated oven and bake 13 to 15 minutes or until rolls reach an internal temperature of 205°F to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Each roll contains 177 calories, 5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 148mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g sugars, 3g protein, 18 Est GL.

Food-allergy mom Colette Martin ( is author of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free.


[dropdown_box expand_text=”Green Beans with Balsamic Onions” show_more=”” show_less=”” start=”hide”]

  • 6 large onions (about 2½ pounds), peeled, each cut vertically through root end into 12 or 14 wedges
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 pounds slender green beans, ends trimmed

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Arrange onion wedges in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Bake until onions are dark brown, stirring once or twice, about 40 to 45 minutes.

3. While onions are baking, boil chicken broth in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until reduced to ½ cup, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.

4. Add the onions to the sauce; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. (This sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave until hot.)

5. Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

6. Return beans to the same pot and add remaining tablespoon olive oil, tossing to coat. (If making ahead, cook beans for about 4 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Wrap in paper towels and then in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just before serving. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or pot; add green beans and re-heat.) Serve beans in a large, shallow bowl topped with onions.

Each serving contains 120 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 3g protein. To lower sodium, reduce or eliminate salt.


[dropdown_box expand_text=”Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce” show_more=”” show_less=”” start=”hide”]

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1½ teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1. In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar and ground ginger. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Mix in crystallized ginger.

2. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Each tablespoon contains 33 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 7g sugars, 0g protein, 5Est GL.


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