My First Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

This is not the greatest time in the United States to start a new way of eating, no matter what it is. Unless, maybe it’s going to be an all-you-want-of-everything-you-want-that-is-loaded-with-sugar-and-fat diet. So, what to do for Thanksgiving?

I’m lurching along here, learning as I go how to avoid gluten and dairy, too. Today I learned that Bit-O-Honey candy is gluten-free. After I already had a piece of it in my mouth, it dawned on me that I hadn’t looked at the ingredient list. I saw “natural flavor,” and not knowing what that was, I went to a website that has a whole bunch of candy info. It’s gluten-free but, guess what? My Hershey’s Special Dark can’t be MY Hershey’s Special Dark any more. It is NOT gluten-free. I also just noticed that Bit-O-Honey has milk in it. Ugh. OK…I just threw all that in for free; we’re here to talk about Thanksgiving.

I told my husband that I’m doing good to be learning one meal at a time. I have to deal with three of them every day, and don’t want to eat the same three things every day, so I have to branch out. (Breakfast has been the biggest challenge, but I’ve also run into things like having to change to gluten-free soy sauce.) I told him that to have Thanksgiving come at a time when I haven’t found my footing yet, is a bit overwhelming. He suggested we go to a cafeteria. Smart man!! I told him that was a fantastic idea!

So. I called to make sure they will have food besides the traditional Thanksgiving food, and the lady said they will. (I am trying so hard to be careful. Dr. Leiberman said in “The Gluten Connection,” that our bodies react to gluten in any form and in any amount if we are sensitive to it.) I’ll be very careful and ask if flour or wheat is used in anything that I’m not sure of. But, I’ll probably take my digestive enzymes just in case.

Yesterday I bought the ingredients for a special thing we call The Pink Stuff – you know, the mixture of canned fruits and jello and cottage cheese and Cool Whip and marshmallows? Hmm. Dairy. I may be having cross-reactivity problems, or maybe part of my problems have been caused by dairy foods, and I’m just now finding that out. Whatever. I’ll set some aside for myself before I add the cottage cheese. I guess I could get some silken tofu, crumble it a bit and mix it in mine, but it’s not so important that I need to brave the very crowded grocery store. Maybe I’ll try that next year.

I also want to try a pie. I decided to do a pumpkin pie. Yesterday, I found an easy gluten-free pie crust recipe. It calls for rice flour and I have that. This is getting better. Then this morning, I looked at the recipe on a can of pumpkin that I have in my cabinet. Uh, oh. Evaporated milk is one of the ingredients. I thought my pie was not going to work. That is thick stuff, and how would a substitute be anywhere near good enough to pull this off?

Have you ever done a search using the words “gluten-free pumpkin pie”? I know. I wanted “diary-free” since I had the pie crust part settled, but I was up til 3am taking notes from the library book that I mentioned above to make sure I got all the info out of it that I needed since it was due today. I’m doing good to be sitting up right now. Anyway, you might want to give that a try. There are tons of recipes! Guess what I found? This one has  instructions for making your own evaporated rice milk. I have rice milk. See how it gets better as we go along and slowly acquire the needed ingredients and actually have things on hand? I love it! AND, I bought some coconut oil last week that I can use as a butter substitute. I bet this will be one good pie!

So, there you have the ups and downs of My First Gluten-Free Thanksgiving. By next year, I’ll be an old hand at this. Well, I won’t know as much as all these ladies whose websites I’ve been reading, but I’ll be doing better. And, better is good.

ADDENDUM: Looked at the Cool Whip label after writing this and saw that it has milk in it. Lovely. Maybe next year I won’t have to avoid dairy and I’ll have some Pink Stuff. This year, I’ll just eat my pie and think about how much better I feel these days.

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