Navigating our First Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Navigating our First Gluten Free Thanksgiving

My son’s recent Celiac diagnosis just before the holidays has had my head spinning on how we will be navigating our first holiday season gluten free. It was very overwhelming to wrap my head around, but focusing in one day at a time has helped. I hope to share some insight as to what I am working on cooking / preparing for him. This is not perfect, nor is it all inclusive, but it is a start. It is kid focused dishes that I know he will eat. I hope to continuously share and provide insight for other moms new to the gluten free / Celiac world. I will be sure to update on how Thanksgiving goes and any pivots we make for Christmas. 

My son is now 8, and his Celiac diagnose just came to us last week. So we are all new to this. As an 8 year old, his eating on Thanksgiving doesn’t include all dishes anyway. Because if it looks “different” it’s hard to get most kids to try it. He maybe actually be happy that I don’t ask him to at least try everything this year.  

Since I know he loves macaroni and cheese, I am offering to bring this dish for everyone to enjoy. I often make Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese for holidays, so this year I am making some adjustments. Here are the changes I am making:

  • Instead of regular elbow pasta, I will be using either the Barilla Gluten Free Penne Pasta or the Jovial Brown Rice Gluten Free Farfalle pasta. We have tired both before in our family already and no one has known the difference.
  • Alton Brown’s recipe does call for flour, so I will be substituting sweet rice flour instead. I haven’t actually tried it yet, but it only calls for 3 Tablespoons of flour, so I don’t think it will be difficult to switch up. And everything I am reading says sweet rice flour is an easy switch for flour when making a roux consistency. I hope. 
  • Andlastly,I’ll just leave off the bread crumbs.

As far as I know right now, he will be able to eat the turkey with no problem. So for the gravy, I am bringing a jar of Primal Kitchen’s Classic Turkey gravy.  I have used this before on other dishes and it tastes great. I realize it is not home made but this is our first go at this, so I am looking at Thanksgiving as a trial run for Christmas, all while not overwhelming myself.

We traditionally have some kind of stuffing and green bean casserole. Since he can’t eat those now, and he never really cared for them anyways, I am not pushing to replicate. Instead, I am making some roasted fresh green beans that I know he already loves and I think others will too.

So on his plate, he’ll have turkey and gravy, rice, mac and cheese, green beans, and yams. 

I will try my hand at some cupcakes, but I will have some from Trader Joe’s as a back up. 😉

I am hoping to make this Thanksgiving as if everything was normal for him all while not stressing myself out too. I realize I am in this for the long haul and we are currently in the learning phase. If you are reading this, and new to the Celiac / gluten free world like me, you’ve got this Momma. I know you do.

Robyn Bruno
Robyn is a New Orleans Native, mom to Anthony (5), Scarlett (4), and Violet (0). She has been married to her husband, Joseph, for 11 years and currently resides in Metairie. She went to Dominican, later graduated from LSU, and after found a passion for real estate where she now is an Associate Broker for Mirambell Realty for the last 14 years. When she’s not touring homes and neighborhoods, she’s chasing her kiddos, living vicariously through them, and exploring the city. She’ll never pass up an opportunity to eat crawfish, loves a good cup of coffee, an ice cold Purple Haze, is hoping to get her running shoes back on again soon.


  1. Mom of celiac son here. Whole Foods has gluten free crispy onions and gf cream of mushroom for a gf green bean casserole. A tip—download the find me gluten free app. Great for finding restaurants.

  2. I’ve been gluten free in the city for years. You’re doing great! Please check out the Gluten Free Crescent City fb group for tips and suggestions. There is even a Gf map of restaurants in the city.

    Walmart brand gluten free flour is great to use in place of regular flour, especially for roux’s and such. Walmart has a surprisingly great gf section if you haven’t been. Also, check out Zappardo’s freezer section. There is a whole door dedicated to Guncle’s gluten free cookies, cakes and treats. They were just voted best gf bakery (and are based out of mobile). I would triple check the turkey seasoning/injectable’s they use if they use any. It’s not necessarily gluten free.

    Have a great holiday!

    • I just joined the group! I joined several general groups but hadn’t seen on for New Orleans specifically. This is helpful! Thank you!

  3. You can always order from EverydayKetoToGo, which is located in Old Metairie! The whole bakery is Gluten Free! We have tons of pies, sides and more including our normal sweets and savories!


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