What You May Need To Know When Cooking For Family This Thanksgiving
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – James is six-years-old. Like a lot of kindergarteners, he loves to play with trains, play outside, and spend time at his grandmother’s house.
When James was a baby, his mother says he was experiencing health problems. After years of suspicion, a doctor in Minnesota diagnosed him with celiac disease last year.
“I just, I knew,” said his mother, Heather Reed. “I had this mother intuition that something wasn’t right.”
Celiac disease runs in families and affects every one in 100 people. Those with the autoimmune disease can’t process gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten attacks their small intestine, making it difficult to absorb nutrients.
“I think the biggest challenge is that other people don’t really realize that it will make my son sick because it’s not like a peanut allergy,” said Reed. “Their throat isn’t going to close up the moment that they eat it, but we’re going to see a result of him eating gluten for weeks afterward.”
James uses baking as an example to explain what gluten is to his kindergarten classmates.
“Usually I say ‘have you ever baked a cookie with your mom before? Do you remember using flour?’ And then I have to have flour that’s made out of oats,” said James.
This year, the Reed family will celebrate their second gluten-free Thanksgiving, complete with almond flour pumpkin pie and corn starch gravy.
Laurie Nelson-Moe of Pomegranate Market is gluten-free herself and says there are plenty of allergen friendly foods to make your holiday a hit for everyone regardless of their dietary needs, from cashew milk to gluten-free turkey to vegan mayonnaise.
“I’ve often used arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken the gravy and now we have many gluten free flours that are excellent,” said Nelson-Moe.
She says to beware of cross-contamination this holiday season.
“So if you’re cooking for someone who is celiac, you might want to have a nice conversation with that person,” said Nelson-Moe. “Just find out what they can and can not have. Then, be really conscious of where gluten can be hiding in your kitchen. For example, a cutting board that has grooves in it can have gluten particles that are hiding there.”
So just because a Thanksgiving dinner is gluten free., doesn’t mean it has to be flavor free.