Enjoying a gluten-free Thanksgiving: Side dishes

Guest Blogger

| 3 min read

Thanksgiving is upon us and for those of us who live with food allergies or intolerances, the Holidays can be stressful and disappointing. We worry about getting sick from an ingredient (or two or three) that we can’t have or we get disappointed when we have to refuse the mouth-watering desserts.
But that doesn’t have to be the case! Holidays are a time of joy, comfort and togetherness and there is no reason for food to put a damper on our festivities.
Over the eight or so years since I went gluten free (along with being dairy, soy and often egg free), I have learned to create delicious dishes that everyone is clamoring to eat. A couple of important keys are learning to adapt, be willing to experiment and never compromising on ingredients.
Below, I have included ideas for delicious side dishes and desserts, some of which make an appearance at my Thanksgiving table year after year. Many of these suggestions go above and beyond gluten-free and can be further customized for additional allergies and intolerances. And remember, to keep it simple and easy, focus on dishes that are naturally gluten-free and are filled with whole foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Side Dishes


A favorite that can easily be adapted to gluten-free. Cube up your favorite gluten-free loaf of bread and allow to dry out overnight. Add in your favorite ingredients – try caramelized onions, fresh crisp apples diced small, dried cranberries, pre-cooked sausage or bacon, pecans or walnuts for crunch (omit for nut allergies) – the possibilities and flavor combinations are endless. And don’t forget the fresh herbs, they make all the difference! If you do not care for gluten-free bread, try gluten-free cornbread muffins diced into small cubes. It’s a delicious alternative.

Sweet Potato Casserole

An absolute favorite of mine, this casserole combines classic fall flavors of sweet potatoes, maple syrup and fresh orange zest and juice (my version does contain eggs). Top with a delicious streusel topping (made with gluten-free flour, butter or a dairy-free alternative, brown or coconut sugar and frozen orange juice) and you can eat your dessert as a side dish! Plus, you can prepare the casserole ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake on Thanksgiving.

Green Bean Casserole

A new take on an old classic. Instead of relying on a canned cream soup, make your own cream sauce. Use organic heavy cream or substitute coconut cream, add it to sautéed mushrooms and shallots and throw in some chopped fresh thyme and chives. Add the cream sauce to blanched green beans and top with gluten free croutons or breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese (can easily omit for vegans and dairy free folks) and bake until hot and bubbly.

Cranberry Sauce

Sweet and tart, it’s a perfect balance for the main meal. Cook fresh cranberries with fresh orange juice and zest, ginger and cinnamon til the berries pop and the mix thickens. Add just enough honey to sweeten. You can also add crushed pineapple, too.
Katie Kolbus is the owner and baker at Motown Freedom Bakery, a baking company dedicated to baking delicious allergy-friendly sweets and treats with a healthy twist. All baked goods are free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, corn and sesame.
It is Katie’s mission through her bakery to give everyone the freedom to say Yes to their favorite sweet treats and desserts.
In addition to excelling in allergen-friendly baking, Katie also is certified in Holistic Nutrition through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, located in Manhattan, New York City.
Katie lives in metro-Detroit with her husband (and business partner) and their three year old son, Jack.
Photo credit: ldandersen

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