How to Have a Non-GMO and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving mealby Melissa Diane Smith

Adapted from information in Going Against GMOs. (A shorter version of this article appears in the November issue of Better Nutrition magazine.)

Try this streamlined four-step plan to prepare a holiday meal without gluten and genetically modified ingredients.

Diana Reeves, the founder of GMO Free USA, has celiac disease and has been eating gluten free for more than five years. Three other members of her family were diagnosed with celiac around the same time and she went searching for a common environmental trigger. After learning about disturbing research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods and vitamins, she began avoiding GMOs, too. She experienced what she says was a “transformational” difference in how she felt and became totally committed to eating non-GMO.

Her husband and daughters are also gluten free and have joined her in removing GMOs from their diets. Together, as a family, they are among the growing numbers of people who will be serving a non-GMO, gluten-free Thanksgiving meal this year.

How do you steer clear of both gluten and GMOs, which are hidden in all kinds of foods, at Thanksgiving? By preparing ahead. Try this step-by-step plan.

Step 1 – Several weeks before the holiday, order an unprocessed organic turkey (or an organic turkey breast for smaller dinners). That will ensure that the centerpiece of your meal wasn’t a conventional turkey raised on GMO feed. If organic turkeys aren’t offered at the natural food store at which you normally shop, go to other health food stores until you find one that does.

Step 2 – Once your turkey is ordered, decide on how you will prepare your turkey and on which side dishes and dessert you’d like to make for your holiday meal. Study the Non-GMO, Gluten-Free Substitutes list, look for sales on convenience products that are necessary to make those dishes, and gradually gather non-perishable, USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free products that you need. Dried herbs and spices, chicken broth, non-GMO gluten-free flour or thickeners such as arrowroot, sweeteners, canned pumpkin, and rice or wild rice are common ingredients to purchase in the weeks before Thanksgiving.

Step 3 – Half a week before the holiday, buy hardier vegetables that will last, and fresh ingredients that you need to prepare side dishes, such as chestnut and vegetable stuffing or a wild rice pilaf, that you can make a day or two ahead of time, refrigerate, and reheat on the holiday. Condiments, such as homemade cranberry sauce, and many desserts, such as apple or pumpkin pie, that are often served cold, also can be made in advance.

Step 4 – A day or two before Thanksgiving, picking up your organic turkey and perishable fresh vegetables that you will be serving. Currently, the only vegetables that can be GMO that you need to beware of are zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet corn. Fortunately, these are not common offerings on most Thanksgiving tables compared to naturally non-GMO green beans, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and acorn squash. Even mashed cauliflower, a low-carbohydrate substitute for mashed potatoes, is naturally non-GMO. Just be sure to make your non-GMO vegetable side dishes with non-GMO oil or butter.

Finally, enjoy the holiday knowing that you, your family, and guests are avoiding not just problematic gluten, but also GMOs. This is a great feeling when you realize that GMOs were never a hidden part of a Thanksgiving feast until a little less than two decades ago!



Non-GMO, Gluten-Free Substitutes for Common Thanksgiving Ingredients*

* Adapted from the Non-GMO Substitutes list in my book Going Against GMOs

Substitute for conventional turkey: Organic turkey.

Substitutes for commercial chicken or turkey broth: Organic, gluten-free chicken broth or homemade turkey broth from organic turkey bones.

Substitutes for white wine: Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified white wine, or organic, gluten-free chicken broth.

Substitutes for cornstarch: Arrowroot, coconut flour, or Non-GMO Project Verified or organic cornstarch.

Substitutes for soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil: Unrefined extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, organic butter, or macadamia nut oil.

Substitutes for butter: Organic, preferably organic pasture-raised butter, organic coconut oil, or organic olive oil.

Substitutes for milk: Organic milk, organic coconut milk, or Non-GMO Project Verified organic unsweetened almond milk.

Substitute for gluten-free flour blend in baking: Unblanched almond flour, coconut flour, or an organic or Non-GMO Project Verified gluten-free flour mix.

Substitutes for “sugar,” brown sugar, and corn syrup: Coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar, 100% pure maple syrup (not blended with corn syrup), Non-GMO Project Verified honey, organic unrefined cane sugar, applesauce or mashed fruit, or mesquite meal.

Substitute for conventional cranberry sauce: Store-bought USDA Organic, gluten-free cranberry sauce, or homemade cranberry sauce made with non-GMO sweeteners.

Copyright 2014 Melissa Diane Smith

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