Being on a specialty diet or having dietary restrictions can be really difficult around the holidays. Regardless of whether it’s a personal choice or if you’re forced to eliminate certain foods due to medical issues, it can be über-depressing to pile around the holiday table with all your friends and family and not get to participate in the deliciousness.
I’ve done my fair share of limited-diet holiday meals, and my suggestion to you is to bring your own food. Instead of toughing it out or eating just what is available that you *think* will work with your diet, pack your own! Have food, will travel. I’m not talking about hauling an entire second Thanksgiving dinner to your aunt’s house this year, but one or two of your favorite dishes? Absolutely! Figure out how to make them fit within your diet, make them, bring them, and let yourself celebrate, too. Who knows, other people might have food allergies, intolerances, or restrictions too, and you might just be a savior!
One of the big holiday dishes that I miss since going grain-free is my mama’s Thanksgiving stuffing (or dressing, whichever you’d like to call it). It’s legendary, but it’s also has a whole loaf (or two, depending on how many people are coming) of regular ole white bread in it. Back before I got sick, the yearly indulgence of that deliciousness was 100% worth it—I’d eat a salad tomorrow. But after getting sick, my body just doesn’t give me quite the margin for error (or margin for stuffing) that it used to. As much as I’d love to eat a serving of it, the days’ worth of symptoms I’d feel afterward just aren’t worth it.
I own that decision. I’m proud that I know my body well enough to make that decision. But still, that doesn’t make me any less sad to not get to eat my mama’s stuffing.
So this year, I’m taking things into my own hands! I’ve taken my mama’s secret recipe (not really, it’s from a church cookbook from the early ’90s), and turned it into my own allergy-friendly, grain-free Thanksgiving stuffing using my Cashew Blender Sandwich Bread. It takes a little bit more effort to make your bread first and then turn it into stuffing (okay, a lot more effort than just grabbing a loaf of Bunny Bread), but for the one time of year you eat it, it’s totally worth it!
My mama’s version is a bit soupier—a little bit more like an egg casserole– but grain-free bread doesn’t quite sop up liquid the way regular gluten-filled bread would, so this version is a bit drier. It’s got the flavor, dense texture, and heartiness, but the texture was just not something I could perfectly replicate. As with all of my grain-free creations, it does the trick to satisfy a craving, but it’s never going to be the gluten-filled version.
I would not recommend you actually “stuff” this (or any other stuffing!) into a turkey. First of all, I never tested this recipe in a turkey, and I can’t guarantee the crumblier grain-free bread would hold up. Secondly, YOU SHOULDN’T BE STUFFING YOUR TURKEY ANYWAY! Stuffing acts like a sponge that absorbs all the juicy goodness of your turkey—leaving you with tasty stuffing, but a possibly dry bird.
I recommend dry-brining your turkey, filling the cavity with aromatics, and cooking it and your stuffing separately. Once you dry brine your turkey and don’t stuff it, you’ll never go back. Friends don’t let friends stuff their turkeys, and I consider you a friend.
And one last word about this grain-free stuffing before I actually give you the recipe: YES, you can make it ahead! Make it all the way up until right before the baking step, cover it, and then keep it in the fridge for up to two days before baking off. When you go to bake, either bring it up to room temperature first, or add about 10 minutes to your baking time. Thanksgiving made easy! Happy holidays. Enjoy!