Posted by: Budger | January 4, 2011

My First Gluten Free Holiday Season – Thanksgiving

When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in March, the holidays seemed like a long way off, and I didn’t think too much about how gluten-free was going to work.  Instead I focused on the daily challenges around eating gluten-free with client lunches, travelling and eating out.  But the calendar days ticked away and I was facing my first Gluten Free Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the celebrations in between.  This was also my first Thanksgiving and Christmas where I was full-scale on the cooking thing. 

I have cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past, but it was hardly original.  It revolved around your standard Turkey, Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole with lots of canned condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.  Not very original, and not very gluten-free.  I still can’t believe that Campbell’s hasn’t come up with a way to condense soup without adding flour.  Anyway, this year I decided everything would be made from scratch except for the rolls and pie crusts.  I’m still not completely into the baking thing yet.  And there were other challenges.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to convince Budgee to try gluten-free stuffing since I was barely convinced myself.  And for the first time ever I was having dressing outside of the turkey instead of stuffing, and so was Budgee. 

I have to admit that facing the holidays was more than a little depressing.  I love stuffing, and to me cooking it in the turkey is much better.  But I’m open to new things, so I figured this would be the year to try a wild rice dressing.  Other daily challenges were the work goodie tables that were literally a buffet of gluten.  This was the first holiday season that didn’t turn into a month of non-stop nibbling.  But dealing with being gluten-free at work has been and still is my biggest challenge.

I am a consultant, and I work a lot in sales meetings that involve lunch being brought in or going out.  Although most of my co-workers from my company know that I eat gluten-free, it is not something that I advertise, especially not in front of clients or at a client site.  I don’t want to turn a business meeting with people who I have just met into a quiz show about what is in the food as I try to determine what I can eat.  Unfortunately this makes ordering a huge challenge.   

For the last two months, I have been working daily on site at a client’s office managing a project.  We did extensive training sessions that involved the client ordering in food for lunch every day.  I really struggled with how I could broach the subject without it becoming a major focus, and finally resigned myself to bringing my own lunch, or eating a lot of salad.  But when the holidays rolled around and the almost daily emails of “there are goodies in X office”, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  I was pretty sure I was going to go face first into the biggest pile of gluten on the table.  I didn’t primarily because I figured that might cause an even bigger spectacle as I was picking cake frosting off my face and licking my fingers.  Not to mention that I am pretty sure the cake crumbs up my nose would have caused a sneezing fit.  I even thought of making my own contribution to the goodie table, but I never learned of the events until the day the food showed up.  So I avoided the non-stop goodie tables, packed my lunch, and made my plans for a Thanksgiving blowout.   Yes – blowout.  I have a very clear plan around Thanksgiving and Christmas dieting, and that is I need to focus on dieting for the other 360 days a year, and not worry as much about the 4 days a year that make up Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have found this works much better as I don’t get past Christmas with the ultimate guilt trip that sabotages the diet for the rest of the year, and when I don’t sweat watching what I eat then I usually don’t eat as much.  So this year, my only “diet” stress was going to be eating gluten-free.

Well I made it, and it wasn’t as difficult as I was anticipating.  We decided not to go anywhere over Thanksgiving, and we didn’t have anyone coming here.  We both had the week off, but we were staying at home, so we decided to do the Thanksgiving dinner early in the week, so we would have leftovers during the week.  I decided I was going to try brining a turkey.  Also on the menu, regular dressing for Budgee, gluten-free dressing for me, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Cheddar Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Orange Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Carrots and Apple Pie – both gluten-free and non gluten-free.  In other words I was cooking for an army, not two people, but I wanted to experiment on some things for Christmas when I was going to have a houseful of people.

The huge success – Cheddar Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs  “Where’s my Damn Answer?“,  and I knew I had to try it.  Sweet Potatoes are not one of my favorite holiday dishes, but primarily because everybody makes them sweet.  I like Sweet Potatoes but without out the syrup, brown sugar and marshmallows.  I like them savory, and when I have one at home, I always doctor it up.  So when I saw this, it immediately went on the list.  And oh my were they good.  I was eating them for Breakfast the next day, and the day after. 

Cheddar Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I ate them all gone, then wished I had made more.  You can find the recipe here.  If you like Sweet Potatoes but you like them a little savory, and you like a little kick you must try this recipe.  Thank you Where’s my Damn Answer?!

As for the rest of dinner, there were some successes and failures.  Brining was definitely a failure.  But overall I give my first gluten-free Thanksgiving a B+.  I’ll write in more detail in a future post, and also coming up, my first gluten-free Christmas.  But in the meantime, you have got to try these Sweet Potatoes.  They’re yummy.


  1. […] was also my first Thanksgiving and Christmas where I was full-scale on the cooking thing. … gluten-free cooking – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Gluten-free Cooking and tagged Blog, Budger&#39s, First, Free, […]

  2. A B+ is a great start, Rhonda! I bet new year will be an A or an A+!


  3. Congratulations, that is a huge milestone. It will just get better and better!!!

  4. Well done, gluten free holidays are definitely a challenge. One day I’m gonna trick the whole family … until then, I’ll consider B+ a good goal to strive for, thanks for the great post!

  5. […] You may wish to check out these three articles based on the experiences of others. Click here and/or here and/or […]

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