Possibly the most difficult holiday to cater to an autism-friendly diet is just around the corner: Thanksgiving. The traditional fare for “turkey day” is a spread of comfort food appealing to those with little or no dietary restrictions. This can spell trouble for those with autism who typically thrive off gluten and casein free diets. To help guide you on your grocery journey in preparation for the big day, here are some tips and recipes to help make your feast enjoyable for the whole family.
The most important point to remember is to stick to the organic section of the grocery store or perhaps even try to buy as many ingredients you can from local farmers markets. Pay close attention to the ingredients list as many seemingly safe products have hidden traces of gluten or dairy. You may also want to contact the manufacturer as some companies do not put every ingredient on the label. Be especially wary of a label that says “natural flavors” as this essentially translates to “unknown ingredients.”
What may be the most important item to be careful with is the turkey. Any turkey that has been injected with anything is likely to contain allergens. Some farms will use arsenic on the feed, which in turn becomes ingested and stays in the meat of the turkey. Some safe brands you can find anywhere are Empire Kosher Turkey, Honeysuckle White All Natural Turkey, Diestel Family Turkey Ranch.
Once you’ve stocked your pantry and fridge with your healthy ingredients, feel free to give some of these fun recipes a try.
Mini Pumpkin Pies
What you’ll need: Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Biscuit and Baking Mix; Coconut Oil; Cold Water; Organic Pumpkin Pie Puree; Egg Replacer; Milk Substitute.
What to do: For the pie crust, mix 2 cups of Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Biscuit and Baking Mix with ½ cup of chilled coconut oil. Add 6 to 8 tablespoons of cold water. Roll the dough on a floured surface and use a 4-inch ramekin to cut out the pieces. Place these small circles of dough inside the ramekin and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. For the pumpkin filling, mix the Pumpkin Pie Puree with a mix of egg replacer equaling ½ cup (one tablespoon of egg replacer to 3 tablespoons of warm water). Add a splash of milk substitute and mix all together. Fill this mixture in the pie crust up to ⅔ full and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Thanksgiving Turkey Gobble Sandwich
This recipe is all about the fun and can include whatever favorite fillings you like. Start by using a small cookie cutter to cut out small circles of gluten free bread. Next, choose your filling. You may go for your traditional post-dinner turkey sandwich with some gluten free and casein free gravy or cranberry sauce, or go for something more sweet like a dairy free hazelnut spread. Add some candy eyeballs, a carrot triangle for a nose, fruit leather for a gobbler, carrot slices for feet, and apple wedges for feathers.
Autism Friendly Stuffing
What you’ll need: 5 cups of organic gluten free croutons; 3 organic pears; 1 cup of organic celery; yellow onions; 3 cloves of organic garlic; 1 ¾ cups of organic chicken or vegetable broth; salt; pepper; 2 tablespoons or organic canola oil; cashews.
What to do: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast and dice gluten free bread for croutons and place in an oven safe dish. Roast cashews in the oven for 7 minutes. Combine canola oil, diced onion, diced celery, diced garlic, and diced pears with salt and pepper in a large frying pan. On medium heat, cool items for about 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft, stirring often. Add mixture in with the crouton mix and add the roasted cashews. Add broth and stir to combine before covering the mix in aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, take out to stir, then put back in oven for another 15 minutes uncovered.