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Making Thanksgiving gluten-free is easy, tasty

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Only a few items – gravy, rolls and piecrust – need to be modified to make your Thanksgiving feast gluten-free. Barb Randall’s sister and niece share their recipes for gluten-free cheesecake and pie crust that they will enjoy at Thanksgiving.

You've extended the invitation to friends to join your Thanksgiving feast and they have eagerly accepted. Then they throw you a curve: they must eat a gluten-free diet.

Don't panic. You can have your gluten-free cake and eat it too! It's really quite simple to accommodate a gluten-free diet and include all your favorite traditional foods. Let me share a little information so you can understand how simple it will be to make your Thanksgiving gluten-free.

First of all, you need to understand that the gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease, a disease that is becoming more and more common. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine of people with the disease, so eliminating the gluten helps them control their symptoms and prevent complications.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, to avoid eating gluten you should avoid food and drinks containing barley, bulgur, Durham, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo meal, rye, semolina, spelt (a form of wheat), triticale and wheat.

Unless the following foods are labeled gluten-free, you should also avoid beer, breads, candies, cakes and pies, cereals, cookies, crackers, croutons, gravies, imitation meats or seafood, oats, pastas, processed luncheon meats, salad dressings, sauces (including soy sauce), self-basting poultry, and soups.

That leaves a long list of foods that are gluten-free for you to enjoy including fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated), fruits, most dairy products, potatoes, rice, vegetables, wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits. And an ever-increasing number of gluten-free products, such as bread and pasta, are becoming available.

Let's examine your holiday menu:

Turkey - provided it is not a self-basting bird, it is gluten-free

Mashed potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes - serve 'em up!

Gravy - substitute cornstarch for the flour when you make it and you'll be gluten free. Unless specially made, purchased gravy will not be gluten-free.

Stuffing - Make a wild rice stuffing or use gluten- free bread to make the stuffing.

Fruit salad - splash a little orange juice over the fruit for a dressing and it will fit the bill.

Green beans or other vegetables should be fine to serve. Read your recipe carefully and avoid using processed foods in your preparation.

Green salad - make your salad dressing to ensure it is gluten-free.

Rolls - offer gluten-free and other rolls in separate breadbaskets so you don't cross contaminate them.

It's a festive occasion; prepare butter pats or balls, which can be placed on individual bread plates to reduce the risk of contaminating butter with a knife that has touched wheat.

Pie - We always have a medley of pies of many kinds at Thanksgiving, some are gluten-free and some not, and all are delicious. So don't be afraid to experiment with a gluten-free crust.

As with butter, serve a separate bowl of whipped cream for those who need to eat gluten-free to avoid cross contamination.

On this menu only three items - gravy, rolls and pie - need to be modified, which shouldn't impact the preparation too much. If you need help, ask the gluten-free guests to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert.

Remember the folks at Lamb's Palisades Market have a whole 'Free From' section. Check out their offerings and get advice from them if you have questions.

My sister, Carol Smith, Kent, Wash., and my niece Dana Grover, Newberg, are old pros at creating gluten-free foods. Dana is sharing her recipe for a cheesecake that we love and Carol is sharing a pie crust that you can use to make your favorite pie.

I am willing to bet that if your guests even notice a difference, they will find the crust delicious.

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Dana's Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

Makes enough for 8 to 12 servings

Crust:

1 1/2 cups Mi-Del gluten free gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 36 cookies)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Cheesecake filling:

3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Topping:

1 container (16 oz.) sour cream, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumbled gingersnap cookies

Preheat oven to 350° F. Tightly wrap outside bottom and side of 9-inch spring form pan with 2 pieces of foil to prevent leakage. Lightly grease inside of pan.

For crust, combine cookie crumbs, granulated sugar and butter in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

For cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk. Add cornstarch, ginger and cloves; beat well. Pour into crust. Place pan in large roasting pan; fill roasting pan with hot water to 1-inch depth.

Bake for 65 to 75 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly.

For topping, combine sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well. Remove cheesecake from water bath, leaving water bath in oven. Spread sour cream mixture over surface of warm cheesecake. Return cake to water bath; bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove cheesecake from water bath to wire rack. Run knife around edge of cheesecake. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Top with crumbled gingersnaps.

To serve, remove side of pan and cut into desired number of servings.

Dana Grover

Carol's Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Makes one double crust or two single crusts

1/3 cups ice water

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 egg yolks

1 cup rice flour

1 cup corn starch

½ cup tapioca starch

2 teaspoon xanthium gum

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup lard, (substitute shortening if you like)

In a small bowl combine water, cider and egg yolks. Stir well and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the rice flour, corn starch, tapioca starch, xanthium gum and salt to combine. Then add lard and pulse until the mixture comes together into pieces the size of small peas.

With the processor running add the egg mixture in a steady stream, then process until dough just holds together. Don't over process.

Then divide dough into two equal sized disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Then take out and let sit at room temperature for 10 mintues. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper to a size 1 inch larger than your pie pan. Carefully remove the top sheet of wax paper and invert into the pie pan and patch together if you have breaks.

If blind baking, prick the bottom and sides with a fork and bake at 425ºF for 18 to 20 minutes. Otherwise, fill and bake according to your recipe.

Carol Smith

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..