Q:Just a few months ago, I learned that avoiding gluten dramatically improves my depression and achy joints. I know the basics of staying away from obvious sources, such as croutons, bread, stuffing, and regular baked goods. However, this will be my first holiday season avoiding gluten, and I’m wondering if you could clue me in on hidden or not-so-obvious gluten sources to watch out for during the holidays. —Vicky M., Pittsburgh
A: You’d be surprised: Gluten, a protein found in many grains such as wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, barley, and most commercial oat products, lurks in all kinds of unsuspected places.
How to have a gluten-free holiday
The following is a list of the top gluten-sneaky foods and products to watch out for during this festive time of year:
Gluten is found in a variety of ingredients in many commercial soups, from thick “cream ofs” to clear broths and bouillon cubes, so it’s safest to avoid soup altogether if you’re a guest for a holiday meal or eating in a restaurant. At home, make soup out of homemade broth, or use broth or soup that’s certified gluten-free.
Gravy is another common source of gluten: A roux made with wheat-based flour and fat is typically used to prepare it. For gluten-free gravy, start with coconut flour, then add stock and mix with an immersion blender. Or simply make a slurry by whisking 1 Tbs. of arrowroot powder into 1/4 cup water and stir until completely dissolved. Add the slurry to a hot mixture of turkey drippings and gluten-free stock or broth, and whisk until thickened and smooth.
3. Mashed Potatoes
Here’s one that surprised even me! If they’re homemade, most mashed potatoes are gluten-free. But some people (and certain restaurants) add a little flour to thicken their mashed potatoes. Ask to be sure.