Surviving the holidays with celiac disease By Jennifer Schulte, Gundersen Lutheran Nutrition Therapy
Everyone knows that the holiday season is a time of the year for family gatherings, parties, festivities and, of course, holiday meals and goodies. You may be hosting and attending parties, cooking large elaborate meals and baking endless amounts of cakes and cookies. What many people don’t know is that this time of the year can be very difficult for people who have celiac disease. More and more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease each year, so knowing how to cook a gluten-free dinner can be important for guests who have to eat gluten-free foods.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a sensitivity to the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Care must also be taken when using oats. Oats in the pure state are gluten-free; however, oats are sometimes grown and transported with wheat and other gluten-containing grains.
When wheat, barley and rye are consumed, a change occurs in the cell lining of the small intestine. This change interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, anemia, fatigue, sadness and irritability. The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifetime adherence to a gluten-free diet which allows the intestine to heal and resolves the symptoms of malabsorption.
There are many traditional holiday dishes that can be changed to be gluten-free and taste just as delicious as the original. Here are a few tips and recipes for gluten-free holiday entertaining.
Tip 1: Plan ahead if you have a guest who has celiac disease. Determine what you’re cooking a week or so ahead of time. If unsure about any of the ingredients, check the ingredient label. If you’re a guest with celiac disease, don’t be shy. Ask your hosts what they are serving so you know ahead of time what you can eat or need to avoid. Offer to bring something. That way you know for sure you will be able to eat at least one thing at the party.
Tip 2: Many people suspect that a fresh or frozen turkey is not a source of gluten. Unfortunately, basting solutions injected into the turkey during processing may contain gluten. Remember to always read labels carefully. If you still aren’t sure about a product, contact the company. Try Shady Brook Farms® fresh or frozen whole turkeys or Butterball® Frozen Turkeys, all of which are gluten free, but check labels to verify continued gluten-free status.
Tip 3: The same goes for ham glazes, if baking a ham. Some packaged ham glaze has gluten in them. Look for maltodextrin (wheat) on the label. Try these gluten-free ham brands Honeybaked Hams® or Hormel® Canned Hams.
Tip 4: Use your recipe for stuffing, but make it with gluten-free bread. You can even use your gluten-free stuffing recipe to stuff your turkey or use citrus fruits such as oranges to give the meat a nice flavor and keep it moist. Or try our gluten-free recipe.
Tip 5: Remember, fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are gluten-free and are great choices to add as a side dish or for an appetizer.
Tip 6: Just because you have to eat gluten free doesn’t mean you have to limit all the great holiday candies and desserts. Make a gluten-free pie crust from scratch or use a crust mix that is gluten-free. Then add pumpkin pie or a pie filling of your choice.
Tip 7: Don’t forget about contamination. Make sure there aren’t any crackers or other gluten-containing foods being dunked into the dip that guests with celiac disease will be eating. Have guests put dip onto a separate plate to avoid any cracker contamination. Thoroughly clean prep items such as countertops, pots and utensils. Use separate items when needed such as cutting boards, butter dish and toaster. Buy separate containers of condiments like peanut butter and mayo to avoid cross contamination. Squeezable condiment bottles would also work. Also make sure to have separate serving utensils for gluten-free dishes.
If you would like more information about nutrition and healthy eating, please call the Gundersen Lutheran Nutrition Clinic at (608) 775-3447 or go to gundluth.org/Nutrition.
Try these gluten-free recipes for your great holiday dinner.
Serves 18 (about ½ cup each)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 bunches celery, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp. salt
½ tsp. ground white pepper
1 loaf gluten-free bread, cubed
1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
2 beaten eggs, if desired*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pan over medium heat sauté onion, celery and red pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add parsley and continue sautéing until wilted. In a large mixing bowl, combine sautéed vegetables, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in bread cubes; stir in broth a little at a time to desired moistness. If stuffing inside the turkey, allow the stuffing to stay on the dry side, as it will absorb juice from the turkey. If baking in a casserole dish, add more broth as well as eggs, if desired to help bind the stuffing; bake 30 minutes or until browned on top. Stuffing inside a turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Per serving: 110 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 650 mg sodium, *eggs are not included in the nutritional analysis
Gluten-Free Pie Crust
Makes 1 crust
½ cup shortening
1½ cups rice flour
4 Tbsp. cold water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In mixing bowl, cut shortening into rice flour until a crumb like texture forms. Add water. Work dough with hands until a soft ball forms. Place dough into 8-inch pie pan pressing it into the bottom and sides of pie pan. Use fork to prick the bottom of the crust to prevent buckling. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Fill crust with desired gluten-free pie filling and bake according to filling directions.
Per serving (1/8-crust): 220 calories, 13 g fat, 2 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber 0 mg sodium