Gluten-free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here!


Time to plan a menu for the feast to share with family and friends.  Our typical menu inludes a LOT of bread and simple carbohydrates in dips and spreads served on baguette toasts, in the stuffing and rolls, and the pie with crust served for dessert.


For years the lethargy experienced after our annual splurge was attributed to the tryptophan in turkey.  But actually it’s related to all the cabs we consume: bread, alcohol, and mashed potatoes.  All those carbs cause a blood sugar spike that’s followed by a corresponding spike in blood insulin levels.  It’s the insulin spike that leaves us sleepy and longing for a nap on the couch.


The way to avoid the glycemic overload is to include plenty of fiber and healthy fats along with the protein, all of which slow down the absorption of empty carbs and sugars.


Here are some suggestions or recipes that add fiber and flour of all kinds.  When we get enough fiber and healthy fat we don’t experience those nasty cravings and feelings of deprivation.


For the stuffing recipe make your own sausage a few days ahead, or use a sausage that doesn’t include a bunch of junk ingredients.  Boulder sausage is a decent choice, but making your own is the best option.


Pork Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Sage

1 ½ lbs pork shoulder

¾ tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 tsp dried marjoram

Freshly ground black pepper


Cut the pork into long strips and toss with the other ingredients in a large bowl, being careful to distribute the seasonings evenly.  Push through a meat grinder fitted with a coarse blade, process in a food processor until the meat is of an even consistency.


Make a very small test patty with about 1 tbsp of the mixture and fry it up.  Taste, adding more salt or fresh sage as needed.  Use some of this delicious sausage in a gluten-free stuffing for your Thanksgiving Turkey.


Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Stuffing

½- ¾ lb breakfast sausage

½ – ¾ cup finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ – ¾ lb cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

3 cups cooked wild rice (substitute Lundberg Wild Blend, a mixture of wild and brown rice)

1 ½ cups diced cooked butternut squash (I find frozen organic butternut squash, cubed, at King


Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Chicken stock


Cook the rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large skillet.  Stir in the onion, garlic and mushrooms with 3 tbsp butter or olive oil and about ¼ tsp salt.  When the rice is almost done, add it to the pan and stir in enough stock to moisten the mixture.

Stir in the butternut squash.


Taste for balanced flavors, and correct seasonings as needed.  You may need more salt or sage.  Either bake, covered, in a 325° oven, or loosely stuff the turkey, cooking the stuffing to an internal temp of 140°.


NOTE:  When I stuff a turkey, I first roast it empty, cavity lightly salted, for 30-40 minutes to bring the interior up to temperature.  I then stuff it loosely with hot stuffing, not cold, to finish roasting.  I also test the temperature of the stuffing to be sure it exceeds 140° before serving it.



Pumpkin Custard

This is pumpkin pie without the crust, very rich and filling.  I top it with a mixture of chopped walnuts and dates, which adds a welcome texture and both bitter (walnuts) and sweet (dates) flavors.  Substitute toasted pumpkin seeds.

1 can org pumpkin puree

1/3 cup real maple syrup

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp grated fresh ginger (no need to peel)

1/8 tsp ground clove

½ tsp sea salt

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

1 ¾ cups coconut milk


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Whisk the pumpkin with the coconut milk and syrup until completely combined.  Whisk the eggs into the mixture, and add the vanilla and spices.


Pour into individual ramekins or into a 6 cup soufflé dish and place into an 11×9 baking dish.  Pour boiling water into the baking dish, about halfway up the ramekins or soufflé dish.  Bake until set, about 55 minutes for the large baking dish, and about 40 minutes for the individual ramekins.  Sprinkle with cinnamon to serve, and/or toasted walnuts or pecans.


Happy Thanksgiving!