Gluten-Free & Happy Through the Holidays

There’s a lot of hubbub about gluten these days. The most frequent questions I hear are, “What is gluten?” and “Why is it put into food in the first place?” Gluten is the name for proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye. It’s put into foods to help them keep shape, almost acting as a glue holding food together.

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Who has problems with gluten? Individuals with:

  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Celiac Disease
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
  • Gluten Intolerant

Researchers estimate that 6 to 7 percent of the population may fall into one of these categories, which amounts to about 20 million people in the United States alone. (

Knowing that, how in the world can you enjoy eating throughout the holidays if you happen to be one of those “lucky” 20 million people? Here is a handy list of popular holiday foods  that don’t typically contain gluten.

  1. Plain turkey. Skip the gravy and traditional stuffing. Bonus: Turkey contains a lot of yummy protein too.
  2. Plain ham. Meats are often gluten-free.
  3. Mashed and sweet potatoes. Skip the butter and check with the chef to be sure no flour was added to the potatoes.
  4. Vegetables and fruit are often healthy gluten-free options. If the veggie is covered in a cream based sauce, skip it, as most cream sauces have flour.
  5. For dessert, choose a gluten-free cookie or brownie mix available now at most grocery stores.

Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes

  1. Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy –
  2. Classic Bread Stuffing –   
  3. Rhubarb Pie with Gluten-Free Crust –
  4. 12 Easy Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies –

And my personal favorite:

Pineapple Fluff Pie (makes 2 pies)


1 can crushed pineapple, well drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
9 ounces cool whip
2 ready-made gluten free graham cracker pie crusts


Instructions: Mix all ingredients together and pour into pie crusts (split mixture)

Refrigerate overnight or until firm (4-6 hours). Top with cool whip before serving. Enjoy!

Images by Stacy Spensley, Martin Cathrae /Flickr

Kim Bassett

As an experienced healthcare executive, I am a strong believer in the "can-do" attitude, focusing on team-building, communication and creativity to find the “win-win” in every situation. I thrive on challenges, especially those that involve bringing teams and people together to provide exceptional healthcare. My mission in life is to care for every patient as if they were family.

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