Turkey Day Palate Pleasers for Those With Food Allergies

If you're looking to replace dairy, McKenna says, "If it's a heavy dairy, like a half and half or a whole milk, coconut milk works well because it has high fat content. If you want to more low-fat option, rice milk is great."

McKenna, who is also the author of this year's "BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery", uses several flours when composing her indulgent masterpieces, but she says garbanzo bean flour is her favorite and works best when using a pinch of xanthan gum as a binder.

"I like it, because it fluffs up really well. The same with rice flour," says McKenna, who suggests replacing regular flour cup for cup with gluten-free flour and adding a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup as a thickener.

If eggs are the culprit, "replace three tablespoons of apple sauce per egg. That works well as a binder."

While McKenna's trade secrets can be helpful, she warns trial and error is a large part of producing tasty allergen-free foods.

For those with a peanut allergy, dessert, often despite efforts to be made without allergens, will be the most difficult part of the meal.

"When you look at home accidents that happen with a peanut allergy, the most common reason is baked goods, even baked goods that were thought to be safe or didn't have peanut in the recipe. It's because the chance of having a cross-contaminated baked good is much higher than cross contamination of other food types," says Wood.

But even the turkey, which may seem innocent to many, can pose a risk for those with food restrictions. The seasonings and broth used for basting, as well as the ingredients in the stuffing, sometimes contain one of the eight major allergens. To avoid allergen-laced processing solutions used to make the turkey more tender, look for a natural turkey instead of a basted turkey. Be aware that even a hormone-free or organic turkey can still contain additives, so read the lables carefully.

Of course the preparation of the bird is also a factor for people with food limitations. While deep-fried and beer-can turkey seem to be popping up on the menu in many households, the peanut oil and beer used in the respective cooking processes can pose a risk for people with nut and gluten allergies. Sticking to basic ingredients -- olive oil and organic spices and seasonings that specify the use of any allergens -- is the safest option.

For those dealing with a milk or gluten allergy, it's quite possible that the Thanksgiving favorites: potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, could all contain a source of dairy or gluten. Numerous resources offering substitutions for these foods are available: Whole Foods Market has published a comprehensive list of both dairy free and gluten free;The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, a nonprofit organization devoted to allergen-free living, has published several recipe tips for the holidays and retail book stores, such as Amazon.com sell allergen-free cookbooks.

Take the Focus Off Food

While there are plenty of recipes to accommodate an alternative menu on Thanksgiving, keeping an open mind may be your best solution to navigating the holiday. Try to let go of that nagging compulsion to keep everything constant from one year to the next, and this year, think outside the bun, create new holiday traditions.

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