A Gluten-Free Thanksgivukkah


Two cookbook authors who understand the frustration of preparing holiday meals without wheat have put together gluten-free recipes to help lighten the carb overload that often comes at this time of year. 

Fried jelly donuts, turkeys filled with stuffing and rich fruit pies all together on one table — the once-in-a-lifetime culinary fusion of Thanksgiving and Chanukah sure sounds delicious.

Unless you’re one of the growing number of Americans who can’t digest gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. That can be a huge challenge for those who keep kosher or love gluten-heavy Jewish foods like kugel and challah.

Luckily, two cookbook authors who understand the frustration of holiday meals – and especially Jewish holiday meals – without wheat have put together their own collections of gluten-free recipes to help lighten the carb overload that often comes with this time of year.

Elkins Park mom and Jewish educator Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer offers A Family-Friendly Thanksgivukkah: Recipes That Kids Can Cook, an e-book that includes 18 recipes, tips for parents and a “gratitude journal” activity. (Available at kitchenclassroom4kids.com).

As a foodie herself, Kaplan-Meyer said she was excited to read all the Thanksgivukkah recipes circulating online, but “less than confidant that my kids would really eat Brussels sprouts with pastrami or Manishevitz-brined turkey.”

So, she said, “I started experimenting with fun, yummy recipes that play with the mixing of traditions in a way that children might appreciate.”

And that her 10-year-old son, George, who’s on a gluten- and dairy-free diet, could eat: red potato and sage latkes, pumpkin sufganiyot, “harvest gelt,” and “the Ms. Gobblestein Fruit Salad,” to name a few of her creations.

For Kaplan-Mayer, cooking has also been a way to connect with George, who has a severe form of autism that makes it hard for him to communicate. Eight-year-old daughter June helps, too.

 “Getting kids into the kitchen helps them feel they have control,” Kaplan-Mayer said.

Making homemade meals can also ensure that kids with diet restrictions get enough nutrition, which can be particularly challenging during holidays because of all the parties and pre-packaged foods around, she said.

For more traditional Jewish recipes sans gluten, try Nosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish-American Kitchen, released this September by The Experiment LLC. The book features scrumptious photographs alongside inspired recipes from authors Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel of Santa Clara, Calif. Recipes for pumpkin corn bread streusel muffins, baked sufganiyot, potato latkes and pumpkin honey bread are perfectly positioned to play starring roles at any Thanksgivvukah celebration. 

Creating a gluten-free Thanksgivukkah meal doesn’t have to be difficult, Lisa Stander-Horel said.

“Turkey, potatoes, veggies and even latkes and kugel can be made to accommodate gluten-free without anyone being aware the ingredients are slightly different,” she said in an email. Gluten-free baked goods, however, “can be taste and texture challenged, which is why we wrote Nosh on This, to eliminate those obstacles.”

With so many new products on the markets, Stander-Horel said cooking without gluten is much easier now than when her husband was first diagnosed with celiac disease in 2001 after experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis. Stander-Horel went gluten-free with him and noticed that she stopped getting migraines.

Back then, she said, there was only one rice flour alternative to the real deal and they had to order lots of products online. Today, regular grocery stores carry a plethora of options. A recent JTA article noted that chickpea flour, a traditional ingredient in Indian cooking, can work well in savory dishes like latkes, and even certain Passover products made with rice or potato flour can be repurposed for gluten-free diets. 

Both Stander-Horel and Kaplan-Mayer stressed the importance of carefully examining product labels to make sure there are no hidden sources of gluten.

“For example, did you know that soy sauce contains wheat?” Kaplan-Mayer asked.

While ingredient labels aren’t necessarily easy to make sense of, Kaplan-Mayer suggested turning to the Internet for lists of gluten-free foods, such as this one. More and more restaurants are also making a point of offering gluten-free items, she said. Find local listings at GlutenfreePhilly.com.

If you’re looking for another sweet ending to your Thanksgivukkah meal, try this gluten-free pumpkin bread recipe, reprinted with permission from Nosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish-American Kitchen

Pumpkin Honey Bread

This dairy and gluten-free treat makes five mini loaves or one large loaf.
Serves 8 to 10

Nonstick spray, for greasing
2 cups plus 1 optional teaspoon Nosh AP GF flour
¾ cup sugar
1½ tsps.. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated preferred
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground mace
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or 2 turns of the grinder
½ cup canned pure pumpkin puree
5 to 6 Tbsps. honey, orange blossom or blackberry sage preferred
½ cup canola oil
3 Tbsps. orange juice
2 extra-large eggs
1 Tbsp. orange, tangerine or clementine zest, freshly grated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. orange extract
½ cup raisins, optional
½ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease five mini loaf pans or one 8½ × 4½-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick spray. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, mace and black pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, honey, canola oil, orange juice, eggs, orange zest, vanilla and orange extract.

Using a silicone spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry, folding from the bottom just until no dry material remains.

In a small bowl, mix the raisins and pecans, if using, with the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour and fold into the dough.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan(s) filling evenly two-thirds full.

For mini loaf pans, bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans for even baking. Turn down the temperature to 325°F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs.

For a larger loaf, bake at 350°F for 30 minutes and rotate the pan for even baking. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until a toothpick comes out with fairly dry crumbs and the edges are dark brown and crispy.

Cool in the pan(s) on a rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a rack to cool completely.


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