Thanksgiving Dinner, Minus the Gluten and Dairy

Most of us will heap a couple ladle-fulls of whipped mashed potatoes, squares of marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole and cranberry-covered slices of buttered-up turkey on our oversized plates Thursday afternoon. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

For those of us who are gluten- and dairy-intolerant, however, a traditional, American Turkey Day meal is usually out of reach.

Instead of spending Thanksgiving Day asking G-d why this cruel, unfair curse was placed upon us, make a couple swaps that’ll get you that home-cooked, holiday meal you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Replace butter with margarine or olive oil.

You may remember margarine as the fearless leader of the low-fat diet craze of the early 2000’s, but it’s also a cook’s best friend when making holiday meals sans dairy. Make mashed potatoes, steamed veggies or any other buttery dish using it, or replace with olive oil, coconut oil or your favorite veggie-based alternative.

2. Rice Chex cereal > panko breadcrumbs.

If you just can’t give up a creamy green bean casserole, opt for a rice crumb alternative to the panko. Crushed up Rice Chex cereal works great — and gives you the opportunity to hammer away your anger at your sister, who decided she’s bringing her punk boyfriend of one month to this precious family get-together.

3. Need heavy cream? Try coconut creamer.

See above! Green bean casserole, whipped potatoes and cornbread all call for some version of milk. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives on the market. Coconut milk or creamer is a personal favorite, because it rarely leaves behind an aftertaste (unlike its soy sister), and it’s lower in fat and calories than dairy.

4. Make cranberry sauce because it’s ALREADY gluten- and dairy-free. Holla!

Who doesn’t love cranberries simmered in sugar with orange peels and a whole lot of love?! Or, you know, the canned version works, too. I’m not here to judge.

5. You’re not having mac and cheese. I’m sorry, get over it.

Okay, so being gluten- and dairy-intolerant isn’t all fun and games, especially when you realize mac and cheese is made from both evils. If you’re ambitious, you could try a rice-based elbow pasta mixed with vegan cheese… but fair warning, it won’t taste the same as the real thing. My best advice this Turkey Day: skip the mac and save your energy for dessert. More to come.

6. Having a drink? Whine over wine.

PSA: Beer contains gluten! Your guests will already be sick after eating two giant platefuls of delicious food — don’t make it worse. Wine and hard cider are gluten-free alternatives, and are guaranteed to keep your guests warm and happy.

7. Commit to the pie.

Most of these swaps are easy to make… but you’ll probably have to spend a little extra time and money slaving away over the pie. For this step, stick to the books (or the Pinterest recipe suggestions) and follow the recipe instructions for a foolproof Thanksgiving dessert.