Thursday, November 20, 2008

GF Holiday Tips

Surviving the holidays is enough of a challenge without a gluten-free diet to worry about! Gluten-free eating can be more difficult during the holidays, but it doesn't have to be a dread. Whether you are a host or a guest this season, GF Delights has tips to make your holidays fun and tasty!

 1. Help plan the meal. If you've been invited to dinner, let your host know about your dietary restrictions as soon as possible. Offer your help (and knowledge!) in the planning of the meal. Let your host know that many holiday staples can easily be prepared gluten-free by using brown/white rice flour, cornstarch, and GF bread (see our GF gravy recipe below).

2. Bring the food you can't live without. If your holiday just wouldn't be complete without stuffing, make sure to bring your own GF version to the party--that way, whatever the menu, you won't miss out. Consider bringing a dish to share (try our Maple Frosted Pumpkin Cake, below); not only will your host find you gracious, but you can show others just how tasty gluten-free can be!

3. Double-check the ingredients. Turkey: what couldn't be GF about it? Some turkeys are actually injected with broth/TVP that can contain gluten, so check the label carefully. Bouillon cubes generally have gluten in them as well.

The following brands carry GF turkeys:

Empire Kosher

Honeysuckle White


Pilgrim's Pride

Note: Many other top-brands are GF as well, but this may not be noted on labels. If you have a favorite brand, be sure to call the company and ask if their product is gluten-free.

4. Be aware of cross-contamination. When the dishes are rotating around the Thanksgiving table, make sure the utensils don't wander! And don't forget that if non-GF stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, most people with gluten sensitivity will not be able to eat the meat around it. Either cook the stuffing outside of the turkey, or make a GF stuffing recipe below.

GF Cooking Tip: Brining

One technique that works well with turkey (and can be much more flavorful than birds cooked with stuffing) is brining. Brining, which is as simple as soaking meat in a saltwater or seasoned water bath, is a great way to make juicy, moist Thanksgiving turkey. Please note, if you’re using a Kosher turkey, it has already been brined as part of the koshering process.

There are few rules to follow regarding brines, so get creative! A good, simply brine solution is 1/2 cup of Kosher salt and 1/2 cup of sugar to a gallon of water. But this is just a starting point! Consider adding garlic, onions, hot pepper flakes, thyme, sage, rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, anise, vanilla bean, oranges, or apples to the brine. The liquid used can be just as unique: try apple juice, cider vinegar--even GF beer (try Anheuser-Busch's Redbridge).

12-14 pound turkeys will need to brine for around 24 hours. During this time, the turkey must be refrigerated and entirely submerged in the brine (make sure the brine is completely cool before beginning the process). Some supermarkets sell bringing bags (and retailers such as Linens-in-Things and Bed, Bath & Beyond stock them, too—prices range from $3-$10), but XXL Ziplock bags will also do the trick. After the brining is done, wash off the meat with water and allow the surface to dry a bit before cooking (you may pat it dry with paper towels). Start cooking and enjoy!

GF Holiday Recipes

Wild Rice with Apples and Cranberry Stuffing
Courtesy of

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced
3 1/3 cups of GF chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
1/2 cup dried apples, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large heavy saucepan melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté just until softened. Add garlic and sauté one minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add wild rice and reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add brown rice; cover and cook for 30 minutes more. Stir in cranberries, apples, parsley and thyme. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in hazelnuts and scallions; season with salt and pepper.

Butter a 15"x10"x2" glass baking dish and transfer stuffing to dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes before ready to serve. Serves 6-8.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing
Courtesy of, adapted from Health Magazine

1-2 loaves gluten free corn bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking

2 large chopped onions 

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries 

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

1 1/2 - 2 cups GF chicken broth (I used Pacific Foods Brand)
1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking spray

*GF cornbread tends to crumble easily, so you may need two to get enough cubes.

If time allows, leave corn bread out for a day to become stale. If not, bake in a roasting pan for 20 minutes at 300°, shaking pan occasionally. 

Toast nuts in a large skillet over medium heat until aromatic (about 5 minutes), shaking pan occasionally; transfer to a bowl. Heat oil in pan; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add onion and next 5 ingredients to bowl with nuts. Stir the cornbread in last, and make sure that you have enough chicken broth to keep the mixture moist without getting the bread too soggy. Start with one cup in the mixture and pour the rest over the top after it is in the pan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Place corn bread mixture in dish; cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and stuffing is thoroughly heated.

GF Gravy

2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or homemade chicken stock), divided
2 Tbsp millet flour or white rice flour, plus more if necessary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 Tbsp dried
Several leaves fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups chicken broth or stock to a boil over medium-low heat. While broth is heating, combine remaining broth with 2 Tbsp millet or rice flour in a small bowl or mug. Stir thoroughly, adding more flour as necessary until you have thick liquid that's still pourable.

When the broth in the pan starts to boil, reduce heat to low and slowly add the flour-broth mixture and the herbs. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir constantly for a few minutes to ensure that lumps don't develop. Gravy should be bubbling gently; if it isn't, raise or lower heat as necessary. Cook to reduce to desired consistency and thickness. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as necessary. Serves 4-6.

Note on buying gluten-free chicken broth: Many national brands of chicken broth contain gluten, so check the label. Two larger brands that carry gluten-free broth are Pacific and Imagine.

Maple Frosted Pumpkin Cake
Courtesy of
Yield: 15 pieces

3 extra large eggs
2 cups light brown sugar
2/3 cup l olive oil
1 15-oz canned cooked pumpkin (or two cups of fresh cooked pumpkin)
2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
2 cups GF flour mix**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10 x 13" baking pan with greased foil or parchment. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl till light and frothy; add the brown sugar, beat till smooth; add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla; beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (the GF flour mix through sea salt). Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture a little at a time and beat to combine- for two minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until the cake is firm and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool on a wire rack while you make your frosting.

**GF Flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour (the strong, nutty taste of the Quinoa flour compliments pumpkin and spice)

Maple Frosting

8 oz. softened cream cheese
3-4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar (more, if needed)

Beat until the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup, and vanilla. Add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time; beat till smooth. Add another tablespoon maple syrup, if needed. Add more sugar, if needed.

When the cake is cool, frost with the Maple Cream Cheese Icing. Sprinkle with finely chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired.