When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Turkey Dinner, Reinvented (How to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal that's gluten, dairy, and egg-free)

This weekend is the time for celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada, and many families are looking forward to sitting down at a table together and enjoying some of their favourite holiday foods.  One of the questions I've been asked most often since we discovered our family's food sensitivities is how exactly we manage holiday meals when we have to avoid common ingredients like wheat flour, milk, butter, eggs, and refined sugar.  Those first few holidays were a bit of challenge, I admit, but with some research, perseverance, and a willingness to experiment, I've been able to reinvent our family's best-loved Thanksgiving dishes in ways that make them every bit as delicious, but healthier for us.  Today I thought I'd share what our family is planning to enjoy food-wise this Thanksgiving, in the hopes that it may help other families who are looking for gluten, dairy, and egg-free recipes.

Roast Turkey with Gravy

We ordered a fresh, local turkey from Eating Well Organically in Waterloo for our family's Thanksgiving meal.  When it comes time to roast the turkey this weekend, we'll stuff the cavity with a lemon or an orange (or both), and a bunch of mixed fresh herbs (we like to use rosemary and thyme).  We'll rub the turkey all over with extra virgin olive oil, season it with sea salt and pepper, and place it in a roast pan on top of a mixture of roughly chopped vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, and garlic) that have also been drizzled with olive oil.  (Thanks to Jamie Oliver's perfect roast chicken recipe for this method!) 

Once the turkey is done (see this handy table for cooking guidelines), I'll make gravy using Jamie Oliver's method, substituting arrowroot flour for the white flour, and making sure that the stock I use is gluten-free.  (The Imagine brand of organic, low sodium vegetable broth is gluten-free and doesn't contain any questionable ingredients.)  This gravy is easy to make, delicious, and makes a perfect accompaniment to the roasted turkey for those who prefer gravy to cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce

This is my favourite accompaniment to turkey at Thanksgiving!  I've adapted my mom and my grandma's recipe here to make a less sweet version of the sauce.

Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Parsnips with Olive Oil, Garlic, Rosemary, and Citrus Zest

I love to roast vegetables for dinner using this recipe, also by Jamie Oliver.  The only change I make is to add a bit of fresh lemon and orange zest to the veggies along with the garlic and rosemary -- it adds a little something extra for holiday meals.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This family favourite is based on a delicious casserole that my mom has made for years on special occasions.  I've changed her recipe here to make it free of eggs, dairy, and refined sugar.  I'm quite certain that Noah would declare it was "The Best Thanksgiving Ever!" if I just placed this whole casserole in front of him with a spoon for his dinner.  (Well, okay, maybe he'd want a little turkey, too!) 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

We make this vegetable side dish very simply by cutting the bottoms off of the sprouts and removing the outer leaves, slicing the sprouts in half, tossing them with a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt and pepper, and roasting them in a 375 or 400 F oven for about 30 minutes.


No explanation required here -- we simply use frozen peas and cook them in boiling water just long enough that they're hot but still bright green.  The peas are mostly for the young ones in our family who aren't fond of brussel sprouts!

Mixed Greens Salad with Celery, Apples, and Toasted Walnuts

I quickly assemble this easy but tasty salad (I use fresh, crispy local apples such as Empires) and toss it with a vinaigrette made by mixing equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar, a bit of Dijon mustard and pure maple syrup, and a dash of sea salt and pepper.

Mini Pumpkin Pies with Coconut Whipped Cream

I came up with this recipe last year at Thanksgiving, and we all can't wait to enjoy these yummy pumpkin treats for dessert again this weekend!  Because the pies are mini-sized, you might just have room to sample an apple dessert as well. :)

Apple Galette with Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I often make this apple crisp as a second dessert for Thanksgiving, but this year (at Will's request) I'm going to try modifying the berry galette recipe I developed this summer to turn it into an apple version.  I plan to use 4 cups of peeled, sliced apples, 2 tablespoons of apple juice, 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon for the filling; the crust will remain exactly the same. Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss makes a perfect dairy-free topping for either one of these apple treats.

Our family is so thankful to have a long weekend to spend together, enjoying each other's company, the beautiful fall weather that we're having, and some delicious foods that we've all helped to make.  I hope your family enjoys the same!  Happy Thanksgiving.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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