Thoughtful Tweaks to Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes for All to Enjoy

When you have kids with food allergies, you have to be extra careful and creative in what you prepare during the holidays. Often, our girls cannot eat much of what has been set out for a celebration, and the holiday spread can seem like a landmine field. One bite of pumpkin pie served with the spatula from the pecan pie could mean a holiday trip to the emergency room. 

During this time of the year, there is butter, cream, nuts and flour everywhere we turn. While eating our way through turkey dinner with family and friends, our guests with food allergies deserve consideration. With just a bit of effort, Grandma’s classics can be updated to keep our menus allergy-friendly. 

Whitney Sweet is an avid cook navigating life with four teenage daughters, some with severe allergies. You can catch up with her writing about food and family at GraceAndPatina.com.

Hummus Pesto Dip

Ingredients
1 container roasted red pepper hummus

1 jar nut-free pesto
1 large tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
Feta cheese
Salt and pepper 

Directions

On a medium serving platter, spread hummus evenly. Top the hummus with all of the pesto. Carefully spread out the pesto layering it over the hummus. Top with tomatoes and cucumber. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper. Top with crumbled feta. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Serve with a variety of dipping options: carrots, cucumbers, endive, peppers, crackers, bread or gluten-free pretzels. 

Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots and Onions 

Ingredients

15 purple, yellow and orange carrots, peeled and sliced down the middle

1 large or 2 small red onions, cut in 1/8 sections leaving the root end intact

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

7-10 sprigs fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoons pepper

Directions

Peel and cut carrots and onions. Spread carrots and onions evenly on a large baking sheet. In a bowl mix together olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar. Coat the carrots and onions in the honey-balsamic mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the thyme, reserving a few springs to garnish. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn over veggies with a spatula and cook for 10 minutes more or until caramelized. Top with the extra thyme. 

Green Bean “Casserole” 

Ingredients

Olive oil and dairy-free butter for sauteeing

1 package sliced mushrooms

1 small-medium onion, sliced

1 package frozen petite green beans 

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup white wine or sherry

1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 cup canned coconut cream or milk

1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth

Kosher salt and pepper 

Note: Mushrooms soak up lots of butter, oil and salt. Add more as needed. 

Directions

Heat a cast iron or heavy saute pan on medium-high. Add butter and olive oil. When the oil is hot, add onions. Reduce heat to medium and saute until onions are browned, seasoning with salt at the end. Remove onions from pan and set aside. Keeping the pan hot, add more butter and oil, then add sliced mushrooms. Stir to coat mushrooms in oil/butter mixture, then add frozen green beans. Stir the mushrooms and beans around until coated with butter/oil, adding more if needed. Let cook without stirring until beans and mushrooms start to brown. Once they start to brown, cook for an additional 10 minutes or until desired doneness, generously adding salt and pepper. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add half of the reserved onions. Stir in wine or sherry. Add gluten-free flour stirring for 30 seconds-1 minute. Add coconut cream and then chicken broth. Season to taste. Stir constantly as it thickens, adding more broth as needed. Plate on a serving dish and top with remaining onions. Serve immediately or reheated and held in a warm oven until ready to serve. 

Easy Dessert Pastries 

Ingredients

1 puff pastry
Fruit preserves (apricot, berry or lemon)

2 peaches

2 pears

1-3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg 

Directions

Cover a large baking sheet in parchment paper. Thinly slice peaches and pears, and place in separate bowls. Sprinkle sugar on fruit as needed; toss to coat.

With a fork, poke holes throughout the centers of each pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch border around each. Spread 1 tablespoon of fruit preserves over the center section of each pastry. Top with sliced fruit, keeping the 1/2-inch border open. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 

Tips for Preparing Allergy-Friendly Holiday Feasts

  • Carefully read ingredients to ensure a prepackaged food does not have hidden allergens, such as nuts or dairy. 
  • Avoid setting out snacking nuts, a popular holiday nibble. Instead, offer salami, cheeses, olives and dips. Your guest can find options that work for them. Use separate serving utensils for each item to avoid cross-contamination. 
  • Roasted veggies are an allergy-friendly side dish all year round. This method works with squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, etc. Cut vegetables, add olive oil, season liberally and put into a hot oven until cooked through and browned. Once you learn this method, the possibilities are endless.