Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Twice as Nice for the Gluten & Allergy Free

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

I love extending my Thanksgiving food joy into the long and lazy weekend that follows the big day. In a way, the Thanksgiving gluten and allergy free leftovers are almost as important as the dinner itself.

There is nothing like revisiting the feast a second, and possibly a third, time around. The anticipation of these leftovers is so reveled. I vow that sometimes Thanksgiving leftovers actually taste better than the real meal.

I had to stop and wonder why. Why is it that Thanksgiving leftovers taste so much better than regular leftovers? Why is it that most leftovers get a bum rap – yet Thanksgiving leftovers are welcomed, and thought of as mouth-watering delicacies?

Are not all leftovers created equal? How can we extend this Thanksgiving leftover bliss into out daily leftover lives? Following are a few pointers:

– Comfort food: Thanksgiving dishes are family traditions. Dishes that make us feel at home and comfortable. Gluten free stuffing, Creamy Mashed Potatoes – try preparing some basic gluten / allergy free family favorites at every meal.

– Variety: Make two to three sides with a meal, if time is not an issue. Some frozen peas, along with butternut squash and mashed potatoes make a regular meal into a mini-Thanksgiving feast. Vegetables are always quick and easy to prepare – especially for those who can not have gluten or other food allergens.

– Turkey isn’t just for a Thursday in November: Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving anymore – eat it readily and enjoy! Roast a big chicken once in awhile too. Rejoice that there are many gluten free turkeys and chickens available!

– Make enough! Making a gluten free, allergy free dinner can take some time – but if you make plenty you can easily plan two or three leftover meals around your efforts. The key to leftovers is planning to have enough of everything left over.

 Make the meal on a weekend day: This way you can enjoy the leftover during the weekdays, when time is at a premium.

– Dessert deserve leftovers too: Remember to make a yummy gluten and allergy free dessert to enjoy with your meal and for the days ahead too.

Good Gravy

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Making rich, flavorful and lump-free gravy can be a horrific task for anyone, let alone those who are cooking a gluten free or allergen free Thanksgiving meal.

When I was little I remember my Mom on Thanksgiving Day orchestrating the turkey getting carved, the potatoes being mashed, the veggies coming off the stove and the pies getting warmed in the oven. Then came the most stressful and hectic part of the Thanksgiving Day meal preparation: the gravy.

Back in the gluten-day, my Mom made gravy the old-fashioned way. All I remember is a lot of frantic stirring, a lot of flour, and if there wasn’t enough stirring – a lot of lumps.

The key to making perfect gravy is to use a whisk, rather than a spoon when mixing the ingredients. Also, mixing the cornstarch with a bit of broth to make a thin paste, instead of adding the thickening agent directly into the gravy mixture makes certain a lump-free end result.

The following gravy recipe is guaranteed to be lump free, stress free – as well as gluten, dairy, fish and nut free… (for a soy free version use soy free chicken broth).

Good Gravy.



This is a basic recipe using turkey or chicken drippings. You can vary the flavor with your favorite herbs ands spices.

1 ¾ cups GF chicken broth, such as Swanson’s Natural Goodness, divided
½ cup strained drippings from turkey or chicken
¼ cup white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning

1. Combine strained drippings, broth, and wine in heavy saucepan, reserving ½ cup of the broth. (To lower the fat content, skim the fat off the top or freeze it for 15 minutes so fat congeals and can be removed—or use a specially designed measuring cup that allows you to pour the drippings from the bottom, leaving the fat in the cup.)

2. Place pan over medium-high heat, adding seasonings. Stir cornstarch into ½ cup reserved broth, making a thin paste. Gently whisk thickening mixture into pan, continuing to whisk until mixture thickens and boils. Adjust consistency by adding more thickener or chicken broth. Remove from heat. Strain, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Makes 2 ¼ cups. Serves 8 (about ¼ cup gravy each).

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free 101 by Carol Fenster (Savory Palate, Inc.)

Beware: Turkey Can Contain Gluten!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Holiday dinners are the most anticipated meals of the year – and often the star of these dinners is the turkey. Besides making sure that you buy the right sized bird, have a roast pan big enough, and cook it to juicy and moist perfection, what some folks don’t realize is that many turkeys often contain gluten! How can that be? How does a turkey become full of gluten?

The answer is that many turkeys are “basted” or “self basted” this means that a solution usually containing butter, edible fat, broth, stock, water, flavor enhancers or seasoning has been added to the turkey.  This solution is often full of gluten!

A few very basic tips on cooking a gluten free turkey is to make sure that you never stuff a bird with a stuffing that is not gluten free. By putting the stuffing in the bird gluten contaminates the whole turkey. Also, never use the gravy packet that comes with the turkey – almost all contain gluten. Lastly, make sure that the spices you put on the turkey are also free of gluten – if in question, simply season with salt and pepper.

The staff at BeFreeForMe rolled up their sleeves and gobbled up the task of calling the members of the National Turkey Federation and explored numerous websites to determine which turkeys were free of gluten. Let’s talk turkey… here is what we found out:

After calling the Butterball hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL) the consumer relations department told us that all of the Butterball fresh and frozen whole turkeys are gluten free with the exception of the Mesquite Turkey Breast Roast. However, their pre-stuffed birds are not gluten free and the gravy packets are not gluten free either.

Shady Brook Farms:
According to the Shady Brook Farm website the following turkeys are gluten free:

Simply Done Whole Young Turkey
Simply Done Bone-In Turkey Breast
Frozen Whole Turkey
Frozen Bone-in Turkey Breast
Fresh Whole Turkey
Fresh Hotel-Style Bone-in Turkey Breast
Fresh Bone-in Turkey Breast

Honeysuckle White:
According to the Honey Suckle White website the following turkeys are gluten free:

All Natural Whole Turkey
Simply Done Whole Turkey
Frozen Whole Turkey
Fresh Bone-in Turkey Breast
Fresh Whole Turkey

Organic Prairie
As well as being organic, the Whole Young Turkey, small (10-14 lbs.), and large (14-18 lbs.) from Organic Prairie are also gluten free.

Foster Farms:
According to the Foster Farm website their fresh natural turkeys are gluten free.

Jaindl Brand Turkeys: 800-475-6654
The following brands of whole turkeys are processed by Jaindl and are all gluten free according to their Customer Service department:

– Grand Champion (Fun Fact: According to Jaindl they serve this turkey at the White House!)
– Blue Ribbon
– Harvest
– Smoked Jaindl

Jennie-O: 800-328-1756
The Jennie-O website has a long list of gluten free products, but below is a sampling of the turkeys that are gluten free:
– Jennie-O Turkey Store prime young turkey: fresh or frozen (Note: the gravy packet DOES contain gluten)
– Jennie-O Turkey Store oven ready turkey: Home style, Garlic & Herb
– Jennie-O Turkey Store oven ready turkey breast (the gravy packet DOES contain gluten)
– Jennie-O Turkey Store frozen turkey breast (the gravy packet DOES contain gluten)

According to the Norbest website they state the following: We are very aware of gluten intolerance in the form of celiac sprue disease. All of our turkey products are completely free of gluten from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or their derivatives.

Perdue Farms: 1-800-4PERDUE
According to the Perdue website many Perdue products are free of gluten. Perdue chickens, chicken parts, and turkeys are all gluten-free. These are sold fresh as well as frozen and some are flavored with seasonings.

Plainville Farms: 800-724-0206
According to Customer Service all Plainville Farms turkeys are gluten free. They are also vegetarian fed.

Michigan Turkey Producers:
According to the Marketing Department at the Michigan Turkey Producers, we learned that anything that is labeled with “Michigan Turkey Producers” is gluten free. This includes their Golden Legacy Brand of turkeys, and many private label brands.

Turkey Valley Farms:
According to Customer Service the Turkey Valley Farms brand and the Holden Farms brand are both gluten free.

Zackys: 800-888-0235
According to Zacky’s customer service, all fresh and frozen turkeys under the Zacky’s name are gluten free.

Season of Giving and Sharing

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This time of year brings together family and friends, most often around a table full of the bounty of the season – garnished meats, vegetable casseroles, savory stuffing and baked goods galore. Often this becomes a trying time of year for many celiacs and food allergy sufferers, as well as their families.

Over the last month, many BeFreeForMe members have reached out looking for answers with their food intolerance or allergies during the approaching holiday season. Members are looking for answers – everything from finding a gluten free turkey to how to prepare for houseguests that have food allergies.  Whether you are a recently diagnosed newbie or a veteran navigator of allergens, we all have questions, answers, advice, and the gift to support each other.

Approaching this season of giving and sharing, I hope that all BeFreeForMe members will post their favorite recipes on the Recipe Sharing section of the website, as well as contribute to the BeFreeForMe blog by sharing their favorite holiday traditions, advice, tips and pointers. Also, make sure that you check out the article section of to find numerous holiday related information and tips.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Be Free!

I HAVE A DREAM! Is Good Gluten Free Pizza Just a Pie in the Sky?

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “pie in the sky” means a fanciful notion or ludicrous concept. According to a celiac this term could easily be interchanged with “good gluten free pizza pie”.

My beloved pizza. Oh, how I missed the commonality of that simple pie.

Yes. There are gluten free pizzas that are currently available. But the celiacs and non-celiacs are divided when it comes to sharing a common pizza union.

Celiacs know the drill: We eat “our” pizza when all the other non-celiac’s at the gathering enjoy “their” pizza.  The great pizza divide.

Is a good globally, sharable pizza too much for a celiac like me to ask? Can there ever be pizza unity between us all?

To this day I have not been able to find a universally sharable pizza… a pizza that could be shared in harmony with celiacs and non-celiacs alike. A pie that could be embraced and loved by all. One big happy family pizza pie.

I found this promise of fulfilling my dream at the Natural Product Expo East. I sampled a handful of pizzas that were a promise of pizza unity. Unfortunately, all these pizzas are not yet available…. Yet, they will be in the next month or so. I will keep all posted on the availability and the fulfillment of this attainable American celiac dream!

DariFree: Love Potion #9 for the Food Allergic & Intolerant

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I must say that when I think of powdered milk I conjure up these thoughts of being a toddler, being handed a glass and knowing from the first sip that my Mom had run out of the “real stuff” and was pawning off the white watery mixture as the real McCoy.

I dreaded the stuff.

Because of these flashback memories, I must say that I was weary on trying DariFree’s Non-Dairy Milk Alternative at the Natural Food Expo. However, as an attendee that was searching out the best of the best, I had to be courteous and give the stuff a try. I counted to three and like the song goes, “I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink”.

That’s when it happened…. with a non-milk mustache placed above my colossal smile, I found myself automatically holding out my sample size Dixie cup to the tradeshow booth attendee for a sample of a different flavor.

DariFree had me on the first sip.                  

Not only is DariFree delicious, it is also nutritious – enriched with vitamins and containing as much calcium as milk. And what it doesn’t have in it is even more impressive… DariFree is free of: Gluten, Casein, Lactose, Fat, Soy, Rice, MSG & Protein. The Original flavor is even free of Cholesterol.

Free of 9 different allergens makes this a “love potion” for any food allergic / intolerant… and what’s not to love about that?

On the DariFree web site ( they have deals if you buy the product through them. From the home page, click on the “Home” tab and then click on “Shop Online”.

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