Dreading Thanksgiving? Skeptical about whether gluten-free gravy and stuffing can really measure up to the “real” thing? Worried about negotiating a “mixed” Thanksgiving with GF and non-GF family members? Well, it’s time to stop worrying. (And don’t even think about eating some sad, dry turkey with no gravy, while everyone else chows down on all the fixings!)

You CAN make delicious gluten-free gravy, stuffing and desserts that everyone will love. In fact, I’ve been making Thanksgiving gluten-free since 2004…for nine people members who are not gluten-free. Now, these people are all family – close, outspoken and super-critical. But guess what? No one misses the gluten.

Besides, in a lot of cases, there is no gluten to miss! Let’s start this series of tips off on a positive note and go over what IS most likely gluten-free.

Turkey. If you buy an all-natural turkey with no additives, it is gluten-free. But be aware that some turkeys, especially the “self-basting” varieties are injected with flavors. (For the culinary curious among you, some companies inject the turkey to make it juicier and more flavorful.) Check with the manufacturer to make sure that your turkey is gluten-free. It probably is, but a quick phone takes just a couple minutes.

And for all of you with family members who like to stuff the turkey with non-GF stuffing, tell them to cut it out! It’s not safe for you, and if not done properly, it can be unsafe, period. Plus, unstuffed turkeys cook more quickly and are just as yummy. Check out this neat article on the topic, and scroll down to the question: “Does stuffing cooked inside the turkey taste better?”

Cranberry Sauce. Page 100 of our Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide lists cranberry sauce brands that are GF. For those of you who don’t own the guide, consider getting a copy. It’s a fabulous resource on what brands are and are not gluten-free. The most popular brand of cranberry sauce listed is Ocean Spray. And it is gluten-free. Or, if you want to make your own, it’s as easy as buying a bag of cranberries and cooking it down with some sugar and water, or orange juice (if you really want to get creative). We made our own sauce one year, but frankly, we found the canned version is just as good and a lot less work. After all, you’ve got a turkey to tend to!

Mashed Potatoes. Potatoes, milk, cream, salt and butter. All these ingredients are very unlikely to contain gluten. Just be sure to use a fresh stick of butter, especially if you have non-GF family members who might be using a contaminated butter knife.

Next in the Series. Feeling better? Remember, you don’t have to change EVERYTHING around to make a fabulous GF Thanksgiving. Next in the series we’ll tackle what’s likely NOT gluten-free…the gravy…and how to make a GF version everyone (not just you and the dog) will love!

Meanwhile, check out Tiffany’s awesome article on the more inter-personal aspects of navigating the gluten-free diet.