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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:01 am

Pass the gluten-free /Paleo/vegan/diabetic-friendly stuffing

Food allergies and dietary restrictions do not mean that everyone cannot enjoy the beloved holiday classics. Try these takes of some old favorites.


You’re hosting a holiday feast and anticipate preparing a mouthwatering spread.

But along with your special bread stuffing and your fabulous apple pie, you’re concerned with making appropriate dishes for your aunt with diabetes, your cousin who cannot tolerate gluten, your best friend who follows a vegan diet or her Paleo-diet spouse.

Guests who must avoid gluten or manage their diabetes may present the greatest recipe challenges, but you can help by keeping track of ingredients and offering easy food alternatives to safeguard their health.

For gluten-free diners, substitute cornstarch for flour as a thickener, says Mary Kay Sharrett, registered dietitian, Celiac Disease Center, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. Check processed food labels for wheat. For example, canned cream soup and canned fried onions, ingredients in the classic green bean casserole, may include flour.

Make a delicious stuffing using gluten-free corn bread or wild rice. You also can buy gluten-free bread for stuffing. “That might be a safer option than baking yourself,” says Sharrett.

People with diabetes should be making their own decisions about what to eat, says Jennifer Stack, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. They’re deciding what their diet budget is for carbohydrates and saturated fat. But you also can make some easy switches to lighten carbohydrates and fat, says Stack, an associate professor of the Culinary Institute of America and author of the CIA cookbook, The Diabetes-Friendly Kitchen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).

For instance, when making bread stuffing, increase the proportion of vegetables and decrease the bread.

Add lots of celery to the stuffing, which “will add flavor and hardly anything in the way of carbs,” Stack says.

The fat in au gratin vegetable dishes can be trimmed by using whole milk instead of cream and switching to a reduced-fat version for half the cheese.

If your recipe calls for “carb-intense” dried cranberries, use frozen raspberries instead. “You’ll get the red color,” Stack says.

Greek yogurt is a good alternative to sour cream on baked potatoes. “It’s higher in protein and more diabetes-friendly,” says Stack.

Rethink the pie for guests with diabetes or who must avoid gluten. “The crust adds a lot of carbohydrates and calories,” says Stack.  She recommends making a crisp or crumble. Prepare a topping with oats, which are available gluten-free, and walnuts.

Cornbread, mushroom and sausage stuffing

  • 1 (5-inch square) piece of cornbread, cut into ½-inch cubes, about 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large celery rib, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 4 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 8 ounces raw Italian pork sausage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  1. 1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cornbread cubes on baking sheet. Toast in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove; set aside.

  2. 2.Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion and mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, breaking up with a spoon. Cook until sausage is no longer raw, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, sage and broth. Stir well. Add toasted cornbread. Stir gently.

  3. 3.Spoon into shallow casserole 10 inches in diameter. Reduce oven temperature to 375. Heat 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Gluten-free: Use GF cornbread mix. Check sausage ingredient list.

Vegan: Make cornbread from a mix, eliminating dairy and eggs. Use soy-based sausage instead of pork and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Diabetic-friendly: Increase the vegetables; decrease the cornbread and substitute chicken- or turkey-based sausage.

Paleo: Skip the cornbread. Prepare the vegetables, adding nitrite- and gluten-free sausage. Eliminate or use modest amount of iodized sea salt.

Chunky apple and cranberry sauce

  • 3 large apples, cored, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Place apples, cranberries, maple syrup, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon and salt in medium pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until fruit is tender and liquid mostly evaporated.

  2. Check occasionally and stir. If sauce seems dry before fruit is done, add a little more apple juice.

Makes 6 servings.

Gluten-free: No changes.

Vegan: Use raw sugar.

Diabetic-friendly: Decrease the maple syrup, increase the apple juice and use sugar substitute-sugar blend place of sugar, if desired.

Paleo: Serve a baked apple, filling the core with chopped nuts

Roasted broccoli with toasted breadcrumb topping

  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into thin stalks
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons shredded fontina and Parmesan cheese combination
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place broccoli on baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle on salt. Roast 20 minutes or until half tender. Remove. Flip broccoli over.

  2. Mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, pepper and thyme in a bowl. Evenly sprinkle over broccoli. Return broccoli to oven until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove.

Makes 6 servings.

Gluten-free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Vegan: Either use vegan cheese substitute or eliminate cheese.

Diabetic-friendly: No changes

Paleo: Lightly drizzle broccoli with olive oil. Season with thyme and pepper. Roast.

© CTW Features

Check the stress
Having guests with dietary needs is becoming more common, but it doesn’t have to stress you.

Relax, says Susan Crowther, cook and author, Brattleboro, Vt. Focus on the pleasure of having loved ones at your table. “They’ll be grateful that they’re coming into your home,” she says.

You can also do things to make the celebratory meal easier. Say yes when people offer to bring a dish. You’re not only saving yourself time, you’re helping your guests as well. “It gives them piece of mind. They’ll have one dish they can eat,” says Crowther, author of The No Recipe Cookbook (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013).

Re-set your attitude if diet requests are beginning to annoy you. “Remember this person is choosing to take care of his health. He’s not trying to drive you crazy,” she says.

To keep perspective tell yourself “it’s just one meal. They’ll live, you’ll live.”

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