The holidays can prove a daunting time for those with food allergies and parents watching what their children eat. But it’s easy to put together a safe feast for Thanksgiving if you just pay attention to labels, stick to natural ingredients and be mindful of the recipes and ingredients that flow from your cornucopia.
1. Additive-free Turkey
The star of the feast for most families will be the roast bird. Just be careful to check the label before carving up the servings. Watch out for dairy, soy, corn and gluten additives, which get pumped into many turkeys. Even if you buy meat that’s free range or organic, you need to be careful what may still have been injected into the turkey to improve its flavor. Rather, look for the word “natural” on the label. If you are the guest at another chef’s dinner, don’t be afraid to ask that the packaging be kept so you can inspect ingredients, especially if the turkey is “pre-basted.”
2. Safer Stuffing
The wide range of ingredients that get included in various stuffing make this dish one of riskiest on the platter. Make sure you know what ingredients appear in any stuffing or dressing you did not prepare yourself. But there’s plenty of allergy-conscious recipes online if you look. Allergic Living shares a gluten-free Kabocha Squash Stuffing that’s delicious. Allergylicious offers up a vegan stuffing made with flax eggs and coconut milk. And if you want something both sweet and safe, try this Momables recipe for an apple herb stuffing free of eggs, nuts or dairy.
3. Dinner Rolls
A bowl of bread may sound like something an allergy-sensitive family can’t pass around the table, but the Kids With Food Allergies recipe database includes some recipes for rolls that contain no eggs, sesame, nuts, milk or soy. If gluten serves up problems in your family, grab a bag of Udi’s that warm up in the microwave.
4. Cranberry Sauce
The good news is few have allergies to cranberries themselves. In fact, the berries can serve as a remedy for many different medical conditions including diabetes and urinary tract infections. As you plan your Thanksgiving feast, focus on leaving preservatives out. While there are allergy-sensitive canned cranberry sauces on the shelf, a more appetizing approach could be to find a whole cranberry recipe to make yourself. Simmer a sauce on the stove and stay away from artificial ingredients to make a sweet dish that’s good for your digestive system.
5. Mashed potatoes
You don’t need butter and milk to get a bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes on the table. Find a gluten-free chicken broth to warm up and mix in as you mash some freshly boiled taters. You can find some easy instructions here for allergy-free mashed potatoes. Margarine and dairy-free milk also serve as great substitutes that won’t disrupt the system for the lactose intolerant.
6. Fresh veggies
Green peas. Carrots. Brussel sprouts. Don’t be afraid to have one platter on the table that includes some simple vegetables and ensures an option that’s healthy for the family and won’t upset anyone’s allergies. With all the fancy recipes available on online, it’s easy to forget the delights available in the produce section that contain no preservatives and require little preparation.
7. Pumpkin Pie
The best part of any kids’ Thanksgiving comes with dessert. You don’t have to deny yourself or your loved one a slice of pumpkin pie. Kids With Food Allergies offers up a great recipe for the classic dish that’s free of soy, wheat, eggs or milk. That’s right, a pastry crust with no dairy or gluten. The allspice, cloves and ginger ensure there’s no loss of flavor, but if any of those cause you problems they can be left out as well. Then whip up some dairy-free whipped cream to put on top.
8. When in doubt, leave it out
Above all, everyone’s allergy situation is different. If you worry about any traditional Thanksgiving dish irritating the system for you or someone you love, simply break from tradition and leave it off the table entirely. You can put a full spread on the table and nobody will notice the absence of a dish that has caused you problems in the past.