Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, Here I Come (Part 4)
November 19, 2013

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, Here I Come (Part 4)

I know that I mentioned in my other blogs (click here, here, and here) that my next installment in this series would be about leftovers, but I thought it would be helpful to provide some general tips about Thanksgiving eating, the gluten-free way. Part of the reason is because there was one food that I definitely neglected to mention, but also, it is important to remind ourselves how to eat gluten-free even when it is a big, special meal. So let me start with a recipe that I neglected to include.


So, I forgot to mention gluten-free gravy because I do not eat gravy, thus I forgot its role in the Thanksgiving meal. Gravy is a big red flag for gluten, because many people use wheat flour to thicken it. Now, I know not all people eat giblet gravy, so I want include a recipe for the traditional giblet gravy and talk about regular gravy.

First things first, let’s talk about the giblet gravy. has a recipe for what seems like a simple, gluten-free giblet gravy:

2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice flour
2 cups turkey stock
1 tablespoon turkey giblets, cooked and diced into very small pieces
salt and pepper


1) Heat skillet over medium to low heat. Add butter and let melt completely. Then add cornstarch and flour and stir into the butter with a wire whisk making a thick paste (make sure all flour is absorbed in the butter).

2) Add turkey stock and quickly whisk it into the flour paste so that there are little to no visible lumps.

3) Add cooked and finely diced giblets (I prefer about 1 tbsp, but you can add as much or as little as you like) and continue to stir until the gravy bubbles and thickens (To cook the giblets, I like to boil them in water with the turkey neck, or other leftover bones from the turkey so that I get my turkey stock at the same time).

4) Add salt and pepper to taste.

5) Best served immediately, but you can keep warm until it is ready to serve, just be sure to stir often.

I would suggest adding some veggies like onions, celery, garlic, and carrots, as well as some herbs, including bay leaf and thyme and maybe even some rosemary (although not to much). Plus, the best giblet gravies have boiled egg halves floating in them.

For those who prefer another gravy, any gravy recipe will work; however, be sure that you use either a gluten-free all purpose flour or gluten-free flour OR corn starch OR potato starch when you normally use wheat flour.

Another key tip is a reminder of what foods to avoid. The Mayo Clinic has a comprehensive list of foods to avoid:

Always avoid
Avoid all food and drinks containing:

  • Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Wheat, which includes
    • Bulgur
    • Durum flour
    • Farina
    • Graham flour
    • Kamut
    • Semolina
    • Spelt

Avoid unless labeled ‘gluten-free’

In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup basesVegetables in sauce

Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, doctors and dietitians generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.

You should also be alert for other products that you eat or that could come in contact with your mouth that may contain gluten. These include:

  • Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
  • Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
  • Play dough

The best tip is to check everything: all labels, all ingredients, and all recipes. Yes, it is a hassle, but if you have a health issue with gluten, checking these ensures that you are eating a good meal safe for you to consume. It will make Thanksgiving a much better experience.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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