A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about family and well, the food. We all know how much we are looking forward to this at home; Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this is definitely something that has been on my mind. There are actually plenty of convenient gluten-free foods and ingredients for Thanksgiving you can use as shortcuts, or you can decide to make everything on your menu from scratch — your choice. Pinterest has a great board of GF Thanksgiving Recipes – I highly recommend browsing through this.

Here’s a run-through of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and what you need to do to make them gluten-free:

The turkey. Fresh, plain turkeys — those without any added broth, spices or other ingredients — are always gluten-free. Don’t open any gravy packet that’s included with a turkey, though — those almost certainly contain gluten.

Stuffing. It’s actually pretty easy to make gluten-free stuffing, and once you add spices and other ingredients, it’s likely to taste almost exactly the way you remember it. You can use a mix or simply use gluten-free bread crumbs (either packaged or from your own stale bread) in your own traditional recipe — you shouldn’t even need to alter the recipe. If you add spices, make sure they’re from a safe source.

Mashed potatoes. Some brands of instant mashed potatoes are gluten-free, as well, but it’s not difficult to make your own, and I think they taste better that way.

 Sweet potatoes. You might find a recipe for candied sweet potatoes that includes flour as an ingredient, but I think it would be more the exception than the rule — the vast majority I’ve seen are naturally gluten-free.

Gravy. Many of us grew up watching our mothers make Thanksgiving gravy using the turkey pan drippings, plus wheat flour. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to make gluten-free gravy — just substitute corn starch for the flour.

Pumpkin pie. The trick to making a decent gluten-free pie is placing the emphasis on the filling, not on the crust. That being said, though, it’s not difficult to make a decent gluten-free pie crust, or you can purchase one pre-made and frozen at many high-end grocery stores. You also can try one of these gluten-free pumpkin recipes, which include ideas for pies and more. Just make sure that all your other ingredients — spices, mainly — are from safe sources.


Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

-Janice Vargas


Online Gluten Free Shopping

Did you know that you can order gluten free products to be delivered to your home?  Even if your local grocery store does not carry enough gluten free products, you can get them at “The Gluten-Free Mall”.  This website is through celiac.com.  It provides thousands of different brands and products that any person with celiac or a gluten intolerance is bound to love.

This site regularly runs specials on products as well.  Often they will discount popular products.  This can save you a great deal of money since gluten free products are often very expensive.  In face, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, they are currently running specials on different gravy mixes and other Thanksgiving feast essentials.  By using this site, you will be able to find everything you need for your family holiday.  No family member will have to worry about struggling to find food for you to eat.

Not only are there food products on this site, but users can also purchase cookbooks, condiments, cleaning products, vitamins, clothing, and more, all either gluten free or advertising gluten free awareness.  Some of these things can make fun gifts for those that have gluten sensitivities.  You can search products by brand or type that you are looking for.  This makes your search easy considering there are thousands of options on this site.

Gluten free mall also sells frozen foods, such as frozen breads and pizzas.  The Gluten free mall will ship products that are frozen and assure you that they will arrive still frozen as well.  Check out www.celiac.com/glutenfreemall to see more of these products.

Disney Channel Show “Jessie” Mocks Celiac Disease

This past may, the popular Disney show “Jessie” aired an episode that made fun of a gluten free child.  Shortly after, this episode was removed from the regular programing schedule.  The “Jessie” episode was called “Quitting Cold Koala”.  In this episode, a teen nanny was taking care of a child with a gluten free diet.  Jessie, the main character was one of many to make derogatory statements about children who need gluten free diets, mocking the character on the show.

1.8 million Americans have celiac disease and many may not even know that they have it.  Children across the country watch this show and it projected a negative image and allowed the encouragement of mocking this medical reality.  CBS news quoted a mother who has two children with celiac disease but are also “Jessie” fans.  She explained how upset and enraged her children were.

Often times with dietary restrictions, children already feel isolated.  CBS quotes Amy Raslevich, mother, saying, “Disney gave children permission, and an example, to further isolate my children and others like them because of their medical conditions.

In response to the many upset families across the nation, Disney posted this statement on its official Facebook page.  “We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet. Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family. We value your feedback and thank you for watching Disney Channel.”

Personally, as a teen nanny and someone with celiac disease, I am appalled that Disney would ever consider filming an episode like this.  I was an avid Disney fan as a child, and it concerns me as to the other derogatory marks regarding different types of people that they may have made in the past and that I may not have noticed.  I also believe that Disney should not have simply posted this to their Facebook page.  While I do believe that social media is the most efficient way to distribute this information, I think that Disney should have also held a conference with characters of the show, to repair the damage done to those children.  This would allow the children to see familiar character’s faces, and comfort them in this grave mistake.


Check out the CBS news article for even more information regarding celiac disease and this story.


Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance or sensitivity generally takes one of two forms: one with characteristics more similar to celiac disease and the other with characteristics more similar to a food allergy.

Given the varying degrees of severity and symptoms of gluten sensitivity, researchers believe the prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity to be much higher than that of celiac disease. It is estimated 6% of the U.S. population, or as many as 18 million people, suffers from gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

This group reacts with some of the same symptoms as people with celiac disease (gastrointestinal pain or bloating, diarrhea, fatigue) but gluten-sensitive individuals typically test negative for celiac disease in diagnostic blood tests and show no signs of the damage to the small intestine that defines celiac disease. Because of the lack of clarity around symptoms, no accurate or conclusive test for gluten intolerance has been found.


As such, it is generally advised that people who may suffer from gluten sensitivity speak with a dietitian and follow a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms. If following a gluten-free diet does not alleviate symptoms, it is advised patients speak with their doctors, as they may be suffering from something other than gluten intolerance. There are various outlets of Internet sources that one can seek out for gluten intolerance. Various websites and even phone applications have made it easier for those who are Gluten-Free! Keep an eye out for new websites for celiacs or even just googling a product will go a long way!

Some foods are naturally free of gluten. Here is a handy checklist of examples for your next trip to the supermarket:

  • Milk, not flavored with ingredients that contain gluten, such as malt
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juices
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans, in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds, such as flax
  • Tree nuts, such as almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Fresh fish (cod, salmon)
  • Fresh shellfish (clams, oysters)
  • Fresh poultry (unbreaded)
  • Fresh meats
  • Honey
  • Water, including bottled, distilled, spring

Check out The Food and Drug Administration or The Mayo Clinic for an extensive list.

-Janice Vargas

A Gluten-Free Winter!

As the winter seems to be drawing near people will soon be resorting to the typical “winter food”. Winter diets seem to consist of comfort food, especially warm foods such as soup and hot chocolate! However, some of these typical winter recipes may not be available for gluten-free people! But have no fear! There are alternate recipes for people who do not eat gluten! Below you will find several gluten-free winter recipes that will be sure to keep you warm and full this winter!

Smoked Mozzarella Caprese Salad Recipe




8 ounces (1 ball) smoked mozzarella, thickly sliced
2 medium ripe beefsteak tomatoes (or 4-6 on the vine), thickly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
high-quality extra virgin olive oil
smoked sea salt
crusty Italian bread, for serving
  1. Remove largest basil leaves at the base of the stem.
  2. Rinse basil leaves and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Arrange ingredients on a serving platter in the following order: 1 slice smoked mozzarella, 1-2 basil leaves and 1-2 slice tomato (depending on size).
  4. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  5. Drizzle generously with extra-virgin olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt and serve at room temperature with crusty Italian bread.
Level of Difficulty:
Prep Time:
15 minutes

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe




1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 pound ground beef
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrot and ground beef. Cook until beef is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste and thyme. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the juice thickens, then add the peas. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 11 x 9 baking dish and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook about 20 minutes, or until tender, and drain.
  6. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and salt until smooth.
  7. Spread mashed potatoes in an even layer over the meat mixture making sure to reach edges completely.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Level of Difficulty:
Prep Time:
20 minutes
Cooking Time:
1 hour

Chocolate Basmati Rice Soufflé




6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into even chunks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons basmati rice flour
1 cup whole milk
1 pinch salt
5 egg yolks lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 egg whites
  1. Place the chocolate in a dry, microwave-safe container. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and heat for 1 minute at half (50%) power. Remove from microwave and stir with a spatula. If the chocolate is not completely melted, put the chocolate in for another 30 seconds at half power. Stir and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat the bottom and sides of six 6-ounce ramekins with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Sprinkle the bottoms and sides evenly with the sugar. Tap out excess sugar.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in basmati rice flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble, 3-4 minutes. Add the milk, melted chocolate, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in beaten egg yolks and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add the reserved sugar, beating until stiff. Fold whites into chocolate mixture.
  6. Gently spoon the mixture into prepared soufflé dishes. If you prefer, sprinkle a little extra sugar on top of the soufflés to make them crustier.
  7. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 12-16 minutes or until puffed and browned. Serve immediately.
Level of Difficulty:
Prep Time:
10 min
Cooking Time:
40-45 min

Wild Rice And Cornbread Stuffing Recipe




For the cornbread

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk, at room temperature

For the stuffing

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 cup onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
8-10 sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the cornbread: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Grease your baking pan using 1 tablespoon of the butter and place in preheated oven.
  4. Whisk 3 tablespoons butter, eggs and milk together in a large bowl, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined.
  5. Remove heated baking dish from oven and pour batter in evenly.
  6. Return dish to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely, then cut into 1-inch cubes and leave out on a baking pan overnight to harden.

For the stuffing: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Combine cooked wild rice with cornbread cubes in a large bowl.
  3. Add 1 cup stock, stir to moisten and set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large pan, and saute onions, garlic and celery until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer vegetables to cornbread mixture and return pan to medium-high heat.
  6. Brown the sausage, then toss with the sage and add to cornbread mixture. Toss all together to combine.
  7. Transfer mixture to a large baking dish, drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup of stock and bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.
Level of Difficulty:
Prep Time:
1 hour plus overnight drying time

Everyday Struggles of Living Gluten-Free as told by BuzzFeed

Everyday Struggles of Living Gluten-Free

The popular website BuzzFeed creates hilarious content that may relate to almost any aspect of peoples’ lives. In the post above, titled “Everyday Struggles of Living Gluten-Free,” the sad but true facts about gluten-free are revealed with an exaggeratedly funny twist.

Although the restrictions of gluten-free eaters may seem minimal, they can effect many areas of their lives. In this list of 23 struggles, the more inconvenient facts of the matter are evaluated, such as the office or class parties that offer nothing gluten-free as seen in #8.  Of course this list is somewhat over-the-top and evidently hysterical as it picks fun at the everyday obstacles of somebody living gluten-free, but it definitely offers those that deal with it an opportunity to laugh and take this all a little less seriously.

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

What do stuffing, sweet potato pie, and and pumpkin pie all have in common?

You guessed it! None of them are gluten free…until now! Because of the increase of gluten free people around the world, great thinkers and eaters alike have come together to create your favorite Thanksgiving staples, all without gluten.

First, let’s talk about the turkey. What many people don’t know is that turkey brines and gravy can often contain gluten. That being said, taking gluten out of a brine does not mean you have to take out the flavor, too. I found a recipe for a brine on celiac.com that includes vegetable broth, sea salt, Juniper berries, rosemary, sage, thyme, savory, and ice water. You can find the full recipe as well as the preparation instructions here.

To make gluten free stuffing, the best way is to use Udi’s gluten free bread. Although I normally am in favor of using foods that are naturally gluten free, using gluten free bread is the only way to replicate the classic Thanksgiving stuffing we all love. “Gluten Free Girl” has an amazing recipe that can be found here. Enjoy!

Lastly, dessert. What is Thanksgiving without a delicious pumpkin pie?! By using amaranth or rice flour in the filling and using this recipe for the crust, you can bake the gluten free pumpkin pie you’ve been dreaming about. Click here for the gluten free filling recipe.

So, on the holiday that is essentially centered around eating, don’t worry about bringing a takeout container of your own gluten free food to the home of whoever is hosting dinner–share the recipes! Or, even better, host a thanksgiving dinner of your own! We all have a lot to be thankful for…like these recipes.

Happy holidays!

LUNA & KIND: Yes, They’re GF!

Two of my favorite bars just happen to be gluten-free! KIND and LUNA protein Bars!!


If you have never tried KIND gluten-free bars and granola, you are surely missing out. If you are a nut lover, you will definitely be into these; It may look like just another “health nut” bar, but it is so much more than that. With flavors like Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate (my personal favorite) and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan, you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t dig the whole chocolate thing as much as I do, KIND has you covered with several other flavors including Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio and Cranberry Almond. Seriously, think of any fruit and nut combination and it’s probably available on KIND’s list.

KIND also has gluten-free granola and let me tell you, this stuff is the best. It’s a perfect topping for your morning serving of Greek yogurt and fruit! I simply ate the granola straight from the bag and ran into the problem of “I can’t stop eating this” and had to eventually hide it deep in the pantry.


While I try not to eat protein bars on a daily basis, I do find a need to have them on hand on a busy day, or to pack in my bag just in case I can’t make it back to my apartment before a class. Sometimes it can be hard to find gluten-free bars that you not only like, but don’t cost an arm and a leg (oh, us college students). The reason why I like LUNA protein bars is that they taste delicious (because I love all of the chocolaty flavors), but they are also reasonably priced.

I often take advantage of the 10 for $10 sales at the grocery store, that way I keep the cost low and have enough bars to last a decent amount of time. My favorite flavor is the Mint Chocolate Chip. With 12g of protein and 3g of fiber, LUNA Mint Chocolate Chip protein bars help me to get my mint craving in without leaving behind the guilt that chocolate mint candy would. It’s pretty amazing! If you haven’t hopped on the LUNA protein bar train yet, I highly recommend it. Even though the website is marketed towards women, I don’t think any fella should be afraid to take advantage of these. Like I said, they’re available at regular grocery stores, so you won’t have to make a separate trip to the health food store, and you can even get them on sale from time-to-time. (Yes, gluten-free sale items DO exist!)

I enjoy these bars for a variety of reasons and not just the taste. There are several occasions where I’ve had to grab on the go while rushing from class to class, and the LUNA & KIND bars don’t make me feel guilty like other snack bars too. I get the taste I want (with some chocolate of course) while I receive quality nutrients!

These bars are great for fuel before a workout or run. There’s a fine line between eating too little and being famished after a run, and eating too much and then regretting it during the run. KIND & LUNA bars have solved that problem for me. Just this morning I grabbed a KIND bar to eat about 25 minutes before I went on a run and it was the absolute perfect amount of fuel that I needed. Grab your smart phone and look up these bars and see for yourself if they’re gluten-free! 🙂 So, if you need fuel before or after a great workout, you know what kind of bars will help!

-Janice Vargas

Gluten-Free Girl

Gluten-Free Girl is a Facebook page based on a website titled the same same. This is a fan page for the website and for the chef that creates the recipes on the site. The page consists of several posts from the website such as recipes and links to other websites. The fan page is updated daily with pictures of new recipes and the recipes themselves. Gluten-Free girl also posts gluten-free related news. This page is a useful resource for those who are gluten-free. By liking the page all of these recipes and posts will show up on people’s news feeds. Gluten-Free Girl on Facebook allows for useful information through a popular social media device that many people check on a daily basis. Facebook even has other pages relating to being gluten-free such as pages for restaurants that are gluten-free .

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Ilyssa Frank

Banana Cream Pie

Arguably the hardest meal for anyone who is gluten free is dessert. Imagine sitting around a table with your family; you see home-cooked brownies, cookies, pastries, donuts, cakes, pies…and you can’t eat a single thing. But–fear not!–your aunt swoops in with some store bought gluten-free cookies, and you can’t wait to sink your teeth into chocolate chip cookie goodness, so you take a bite and taste…cardboard. You remove the “cookie” from your mouth, squint your eyes, and try to figure out how someone made a piece of cardboard look just like your favorite dessert. Soon, reality begins to set in; you realize that you are stuck with a mediocre dessert (at best), but to make your aunt happy, you choke it down with some milk and a smile.

Odds are, if you are gluten free, this has happened to you. Even in the brief time that I was gluten free, I was served multiple variations of cardboard that were incorrectly labeled as desserts. So, until companies correct their labels, gluten free desserts may be best prepared at home. To get you started, here’s a recipe I found in the New York Times for a gluten free banana cream pie (YUM!!) that will be ready for you to eat in under two hours. Say goodbye to cardboard, and hello to deliciousness!