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Food shared at home with those you love is one of the best things about the holidays, but throw in dietary restrictions, and things can get pretty tough for the cook. We've got your back, though!
Molly Winsten (@onmollysplate on Instagram) is a registered dietician and the operations manager of Freedom Bakery, a gluten-free wholesaler in Massachusetts. Thanks in part to her own food allergies and sensitivities, she’s made it her mission to help people find ways to be inclusive in the kitchen without missing out on anything.
With her tips and tricks, you can avoid having to cook different dishes for different dietary restrictions—and have a safe, healthy and delicious meal for everyone you're entertaining.
Stock up on disposable tins and aluminum foil. Cross-contamination is a huge consideration when cooking for people with allergies and food sensitivities. For some people, even having ingredients touch the same surface as those they are allergic to can cause a bad reaction. One solution is to stock up on disposable tins and aluminum foil. Keep items separate in the tins and use the foil to line baking sheets, counters, etc. It's an inexpensive way to give everyone peace of mind by always starting with an untainted cooking surface. Plus, it makes cleanup easier!
Swap in bananas for eggs. Need a killer vegan breakfast dish that everyone will love? Make French toast using mashed banana instead of egg in the custard (the banana doesn't need to be totally smooth). It's really tasty and caramelizes beautifully!
Make one stuffing that also works for gluten-free guests. Gluten-free bread tends to be a bit dry, so it's perfect for stuffing because it can absorb a lot of moisture without falling apart. As Molly says, it comes out amazing, and no one ever knows the difference. Note: since you don't have to toast the bread first, you may want to use it for your stuffing even if you don't have any gluten-free eaters! The same logic holds for bread pudding. Veggie sides are also a great gluten-free option that will be a hit with all your guests—try this Cheesy Butternut, Kale and Cauliflower Bake from Daphne Oz.
Use this trick for the best gluten-free toast. Dry bread isn't always an asset, though. When toasting gluten-free bread, adding some fat lends moisture and helps prevent it from falling apart. Molly likes to drizzle bread slices and halved bagels with olive oil before putting them in the toaster, but you can also skillet-toast them. She does the same thing when making sandwiches on gluten-free bread.
Use cornstarch instead of flour for thickening. Need to thicken soup, stew or gravy, but someone is gluten-free? Use cornstarch instead of flour. Divide the amount of flour needed by half and make a slurry (to avoid clumping) by stirring that amount of cornstarch into a bit of water, milk or non-dairy milk. Whisk the slurry into your soup/stew/gravy, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer—it will thicken beautifully!
Lighten up dense baked goods with a splash of white or apple cider vinegar. Want to lighten up gluten-free baked goods, which can be heavy and dense? This may sound crazy, but if the recipe includes baking soda, add a splash of white vinegar. It will interact with the baking soda and lend fluffiness and lightness.
Make homemade truffles as a super-easy and impressive gluten-free dessert. Simply crumble allergy-friendly cookies or baked goods, then mix with a bit of frosting (in both cases, store-bought is fine; most store-bought frostings are gluten-free and vegan), roll into balls and dip into your chocolate of choice. Stop there or add sprinkles and other fun decorations. The truffles are easy to transport, make great gifts and are always a huge hit. Looking for another dessert idea? We highly recommend these Gluten-Free Lemon Bars (low-carb, low-sugar, dairy-free & keto-friendly!).