Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful under the best of circumstances. But when you have a guest with food allergies, menu planning can be even more of a challenge. Read on for recipes and tips for hosting a food-allergy-friendly Thanksgiving meal.
Many Thanksgiving Favorites Are Naturally Allergy Friendly
Milk, wheat, egg, soy and nuts are common food allergens and also present in many holiday foods. Fortunately, many Thanksgiving favorites are either naturally allergy friendly or easily modified.
If cooking is not your forte and you are feeling you will have to make things from scratch, think again. Below are recipes and pre-packaged options both for those who want to get messy in the kitchen and for those who want to keep it simple.
Turkey and Main Dishes
Turkey is the centerpiece of the harvest table. When roasted with olive oil and spices, it is naturally free from common allergens. If one of your guests has a wheat allergy or is gluten-free, simply cook the stuffing separately. Roasting a separate, smaller turkey breast is also an option.
You could also provide a hearty dish that incorporates several foods and flavors, as found in the recipes below.
Stuffing is the perfect complement to the main event. Check out the recipe and pre-packaged ideas below to see if you can add this back for the stuffing lovers who would otherwise have to miss out. This Thanksgiving favorite may not be an option for those avoiding wheat, milk and/or egg.
Recipe: Classic Gluten-Free Stuffing (substitute with a milk-free butter substitute if avoiding milk)
Pre-packaged Gluten free stuffing options:
Aleia’s Stuffing Mix (contains eggs)
Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Stuffing Mix (contains egg and milk)
Three Bakers Herb Seasoned Whole Grain Gluten-Free Stuffing (contains egg)
Williams Sonoma Gluten-Free Stuffing (contains eggs)
No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without mashed potatoes. Often made with milk and butter, mashed potatoes can be easily modified for milk-free diets. Substitute butter with a dairy-free version, and use cooking water to moisten the potatoes. A bit of salt and garlic and you won’t miss the milk! Below are also packaged options for a quick and easy dish.
Recipe: Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes
Pre-packaged milk-free mashed potato option:
Ore-Ida Home Style Steam ‘N’ Mash Recipe Ready Pre-Cut Russet Potatoes Frozen Side Dish
Mac and Cheese
And of course, who doesn’t love a side of mac and cheese? There are many boxed gluten-free and/or milk-free mac and cheese varieties available at most grocery retail stores. Check them out to see which one you or your guests will like the best.
Want to make your own sauce? Take a look at the two recipes below for a vegan “cheese” sauce you can add with any pasta (wheat or substitution). The wheat-free pasta substitutions are endless these days—from corn and chickpea pasta to rice or buckwheat, there’s something for almost every dietary restriction out there.
Recipes: Vegan Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese (substitute gluten free pasta if needed)
Cranberry salad and roasted vegetables are also staples, as long as they are made without nuts.
Not every single dish must accommodate your guests’ restrictions. A well-rounded meal would include a protein, starch (mashed potato), a vegetable, and a fun tradition (cranberry sauce).
Link to other recipes: More allergy-friendly tips and recipes
No holiday is complete without dessert. This pumpkin pie is both festive and allergy friendly.
Recipes: Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
With all of these options available to you and your family this year, we hope you enjoy a very nice Thanksgiving meal!
Editor’s Note: Meghan McNeill, MS, RD, LD, also contributed to this article. Meghan is a registered dietitian in the Division of Nutrition Therapy at Cincinnati Children’s.