By Maris Callahan
The holiday season might be the most wonderful time of the year, but for individuals who follow a gluten-free diet it can be one of the most challenging.
A gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss method, but a medically prescribed diet for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, among other conditions. According to the Warren Celiac Center at UCSD, it is estimated that 1 in 100 Americans has celiac disease, though most do not know it. While there is no cure for celiac disease it can be effectively treated, primarily through diet.
“The holiday season causes some difficulty [for gluten-free dieters] because so many occasions involve food,” said Tricia Thompson, R.D., author of ADA’s Easy Gluten-Free and glutenfreedietitian.com. “If you are gluten-free and attending a function in someone’s home, ask if you can bring a gluten-free dish. That way you know there will be something you can eat.”
One such challenging occasion is Thanksgiving. Everyone knows that the best part of Thanksgiving isn’t the turkey, but the traditional side dishes, many of which contain gluten. Luckily, whether you’re hosting a gluten-free guest or if a family member recently began a gluten-free diet, it’s easy to use substitute ingredients to make gluten-free versions of your favorite dishes.
For someone who follows a gluten-free diet, even the slightest amount of gluten can cause illness, so be prepared to take extra caution while you are cooking.
“If you are cooking gluten-free, you must take steps to prevent cross contamination,” Thompson warns. “For example, if you are making two dressings for Thanksgiving, one gluten-free and the other made with wheat bread, make the gluten-free version first. It also is very important to use separate food preparation tools and serving utensils.”
This week on CRAFT, I will cover a variety of gluten-free Thanksgiving side dish options that your guests will love – whether they eat gluten or not.
Gluten-Free Shells & Cheese with Browned Butter and Swiss Chard
Some home cooks like to serve rich, comforting macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving, and with this recipe, you won’t miss traditional pasta. It borrows a warm, nutty flavor from brown butter, a creamy texture from smooth goat cheese and even some greens – for guilt appeasement.
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16 ounces (2 boxes) Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta shells
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour or brown rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
2 cups low-fat or skim milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre)
1 bunch (about four cups shredded) red Swiss chard
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare pasta according to package directions. In an oven-safe pan or French oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook until butter begins to brown (and enjoy the aroma in your kitchen), stirring regularly. If you notice little brown bits in your butter, continue to stir; they will add flavor to your sauce later. Add 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour and mix to form a roux. Add salt and pepper.
Step 2: Add milk to your roux, stirring constantly. Let cook over high heat until sauce thickens. Add mozzarella, then goat cheese, and stir until cheese is melted and thick and the sauce is bubbly. Mix the cooked macaroni into the pot and add the chard. Stir until combined and the chard begins to wilt.
Step 3: Bake in 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese bubbles and begins to brown on top.
Note: If you don’t have an oven-safe pot or pan, use a regular stockpot and transfer the mixture to a buttered glass baking dish after incorporating the chard.
More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Side Dishes:
- Curried Pumpkin Soup with Crème Fraiche
- Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sage
- Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Chestnuts
About the Author:
Maris Callahan is the author of In Good Taste, an avid self-taught home cook, and is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping new cooks learn how to prepare healthy, delicious meals and snacks, even when life is busy. She believes in Ghirardelli chocolate, farmer’s markets and cooking from scratch when possible. When she is not in the kitchen working on her next recipe, Maris works as a marketing professional in Chicago and in her spare time, contributes to several websites including SheKnows.com, Diets In Review and Shape.com.
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