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Health Matters: Gluten-free dining for the holidays

Guest Columnist

The holidays are quickly approaching along with an assortment of baked treats and traditional recipes.  For individuals on a gluten-free diet the holiday season can become overwhelming when baking and preparing these savory meals.  Many of these recipes are made from wheat, the primary source of gluten.  Gluten is a protein also found in rye and barley.  Oats should be cautioned for certain individuals.
Check with your doctor or dietitian to find out if oats are okay for you.

The Traditional Holiday Menu:
Cranberry Sauce
*Dinner Rolls
*Pie Crust/Pumpkin Pie
Green Beans
Mashed Potatoes
*Denotes foods that are typically made with gluten. The good news is many holiday recipes can be altered to be gluten-free!  See below for excellent gluten-free tips and tricks.
Turkey:  Be aware of basted turkeys!  Always check the ingredients list to see what is in the injected solution.  Basting solutions are often made with gluten.
Stuffing:  The holidays wouldn’t be the same without traditional stuffing!  You can use your favorite stuffing recipe, but instead of using wheat flour use a store-bought, homemade gluten-free white bread, or gluten-free cornbread in the same amount.
Gravy:  Turkey dinner just isn’t the same without the traditional turkey gravy.  But gravy is typically thickened with wheat flour.  A gluten-free recipe simply calls for 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch in place of every 1 tablespoon of wheat flour.  This will make a more clear and translucent looking gravy.  For individuals who like that “gravy-like” consistency, you can substitute wheat flour for sweet rice flour in the same amount of what the recipe calls for.

Soft, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Dinner Rolls:
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups milk (warm but not hot)
3 ¼ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 ½ teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 large eggs- use divided
¼ cup butter
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1. Combine yeast, sugar and warmed milk in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve sugar.  Let sit for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and has increased in volume.
2. Combine all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in the bowl and whisk to break up any lumps.
3. Add the yeast mixture, 2 eggs, melted butter, honey, and apple cider vinegar.  Mix on medium-low until combined.  Mix for 3 minutes.  You should have a very thick, smooth batter.
4. Brush 2 standard muffin pans with melted butter and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling ¾ full.  Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise.  Let rise for 35 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size.
6. Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water very well with a fork.  Gently brush the tops of each roll with the beaten egg.
7. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool.

Easy Gluten-Free Pie Crust:
½ cup shortening
1 ½ cups rice flour
4 tbsp cold water
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut shortening into rice flour until a crumb like texture forms.  Add water.  Work dough with hands until soft.  Form dough into a ball.
3. Place dough in 8 inch pie pan and press into the bottom and the sides.  Use the back of a spoon or fingers.
4. Use fork to prick the bottom of the crust to prevent buckling.  Place crust in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin (not sweetened canned pumpkin pie mix)
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon amaranth flour
2 lightly beaten large eggs
1 cup evaporated canned milk
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla
Heavy whipping cream for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients for pie filling in a large mixing bowl.  Beat until mixture is smooth and blended, about 1 minute.
2. Pour filling mixture into the pie crust.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pie comes out clean.  Over baking can cause the top of the pie to crack.
4. Garnish with fresh whipped cream, dusted with cinnamon sugar (optional).
1. Always read the ingredients list
2. When in doubt do not eat that food
3. Call the manufacturer for details or questions
For more information on cooking gluten-free dishes for the holidays please visit:
Summer Spires is a diatetic intern with Carolinas Medical Center-Linconlton.

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