Thanksgiving can be tough with celiac disease

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — Stuffing, rolls, pies and other tempting dishes can make Thanksgiving one of the toughest holidays to navigate for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease marked by sensitivity to gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye.

Even turkey can pose hazards because some meat companies use gluten in processing the birds, Sheboygan Press Media (http://shebpr.es/1iKy0tH ) reported Monday.

LaVonne Young, who was diagnosed with celiac disease about six years ago, advised others with the illness to check labels. For example, she said, Butterball turkeys are usually gluten-free, but the gravy packets that sometimes come with them are not.

Young said she’s adjusted her Thanksgiving menu, substituting dishes like a gluten-free sweet potato dish for the green bean casserole that just didn’t come out right when made with gluten-free soup. She also tries to keep the disease in perspective.

“For the new celiac, they might see it like that: ‘Oh I can’t, I’m going without,'” Young said. “It takes what, 20 minutes to devour a Thanksgiving feast? We spend all the other time playing games, talking, saying what we’re thankful for, focusing on other things with the family.”

Heidi Dellemann, natural foods manager at Festival Foods, also has celiac disease. There was a time when she had to prepare everything from scratch, but she said that’s less true today.

“There’s such a growth in the gluten-free, with people having issues with gluten, there’s a lot more prepared stuff that is available to people who are on the run, where maybe five years ago there wasn’t,” Delleman said.

Brian Gensch, who was diagnosed with celiac disease about four years ago, said suggested making stuffing with gluten-free bread and thickening gravy with corn starch instead of flour.

Here are a few other tips as well for getting through the Thanksgiving holiday gluten-free:

— Scrap marinades and glazes that may contain gluten, and brine the turkey instead to give it a moist, savory flavor.

— Don’t stuff the turkey. If you aren’t using gluten-free bread, cook the dressing separately to avoid cross-contamination.

— Thicken gravy with corn starch, tapioca or arrowroot flour instead of wheat flour.

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Online:

Celiac disease and gluten-free diet information: http://www.celiac.com/

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Information from: Sheboygan Press Media, http://www.sheboygan-press.com

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