Tips for a Healthy, Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

As we’re preparing for a short week with Thanksgiving, I know many parents who are worried about how they’re going to have a gluten-free Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is definitely a tricky holiday to navigate if you’re cutting out gluten for yourself or your keiki!

As many of you probably already know, eating gluten-free has been proven to help children with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD. Benefits of cutting out gluten – a protein found in wheat – include increased speech and language use, improved social interaction, decreasing self-stimulating behavior, improved digestion, sleep and immune function, increased awareness and ability to focus and enhancement of cognitive function.

Here are 5 easy tips on gluten-freeing your Thanksgiving table:

1.       Thicken your gravy with arrowroot. Instead of thickening your turkey gravy with all-purpose flour, whisk a slurry of arrowroot and water into your pan drippings.

2.       Embrace potatoes - or better yet - cauliflower! Mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower are gluten-free, so enjoy subbing them as your main source of  carbohydrates on this holiday. Mix them up with broth and herbs and voila, you have an easy gluten-free and dairy-free side dish.

3.       Go hearty with vegetables. Try to keep all of the additional dishes on the table seasonal and vegetable-centric. Think roasted Brussel sprouts, creamy pumpkin soups, mashed turnips or simple, grilled zucchini and mushrooms. This is not only gluten-free, but keeps things healthy for everyone else.

4.       Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to skip pies! Head to Down to Earth or Whole Foods Kahala/Kailua and pick up a gluten-free crust or two. Or, make your own by mixing gluten-free cookies and butter or coconut oil together to create a crumbly, press-in version. Most fruit and pumpkin fillings are naturally gluten-free, so just use arrowroot or extra eggs instead of flour for thickening.

5.       Make rice stuffing. Look up recipes online for rice, instead of bread, stuffing for your turkey. I’ve had wild rice stuffing with mushrooms, onions and herbs before, and they’re amazing! Try it this year: