Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Holiday Tips

Getting through the holidays gluten and dairy free can be tough. Let me tell ya. But then, the holidays were always a challenge for me because I was mostly vegetarian for decades (meaning ovo-lacto vegetarian and sometimes vegan). In truth, Gentle Reader, my holiday foods have often tended, shall we say, to be a tad different from mainstream holiday fare.

Being the wild and free goddess-in-training I was back in those golden zen-kissed crunchy pre-celiac days, I learned early on how to tweak traditional recipes and reinvent old favorites- like using coconut milk as a vegan (non-dairy) sub in whipped sweet potatoes (everyone loved this!) and subbing butter and cream with vegetable broth and crushed roasted garlic in fluffy smashed potatoes. No one missed the animal fat (unless they were just being polite).

My stuffing back then (baked as a casserole) was naturally gluten-free. I used cubes of toasted cornbread tossed with a skillet of softened onions, celery, chopped apple and cranberries seasoned with a touch of curry- then moistened with broth and baked till golden- sometimes with pine nuts or pecans on top.

Instead of serving green beans swimming in canned mushroom soup (because I never- and I mean, never- got the appeal of that goopy combination) I roasted fresh green beans in sea salt and balsamic vinegar- just until tender-crisp. Or did this simple but elegant recipe with pomegranate glaze.

Lucky for me, I enjoyed thinking "outside the box". And in my vegan years- not once- did I make a turkey out of tofu.

Who needs tofurky when you have Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas?

As for 2007? It will be another quiet Thanksgiving holiday here by the mesa. No traveling. I'm still off my feet- though a slick new wheelchair has helped me feel more mobile here at home and allowed me to work at my desk (and not be bored beyond belief). Steve will be the official cook this year. I suspect enchiladas will be on the menu.


Among the usual suspects, I toss these ideas to you: Mexican Pumpkin Soup. Cozy Autumn Rice Bake. Roasted Eggplant Tapenade and Jalapeño & Lime Hummus. Veggie Lovers Shepherd's Pie. All fabulous make-ahead recipes.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash and Beef and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash (and you, Dear Reader, could stuff it with ground turkey; and for vegan, try cooked brown rice with pine nuts, cranberries and green chiles). Or try my Cornbread Stuffing for squash here. If it's just the two of you- try an elegant Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto.

And how about lacy, crispy Latkes and Homemade Applesauce? To die for, Bubbe. And you can always jazz up ordinary squash with roasted green chiles.

Instead of slaving over a gluten-free pastry crust (and doubting it would work egg-free, for me, anyway) I'm going to make my Apple-Pear Crisp in a pie dish. Too many times we ended up scraping apple or pumpkin filling off of nothing-to-write-home-about gluten-free crusts, so why fight it? Everyone loves a good apple crisp warm from the oven.

For a beautiful pie crust made with gluten-free oatmeal, check out Susan's Oatmeal Cookie Crust at FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

Ten Tips for Tasty Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free Holidays:

For making gravy, use arrowroot starch or sweet rice flour; these thicken better than wheat flour, anyway. Less lumps. I like to add a dash of dry sherry, brandy or wine.

For a non-dairy sub in pumpkin, squash and sweet potato recipes try coconut milk- it's delicious (full fat tastes best).

Cook carrots in orange juice for a non-dairy flavor boost. Drizzle with a touch of pure maple syrup.

Use raw organic agave nectar or pure maple syrup for adding just the right touch of sweetness to veggies and sauces.

For stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread, or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread.

For a crunchy bread crumb topping try my Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs (process toasted GF waffles- they make perfect golden crumbs).

As an all-around basic flour substitute keep a bag of Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix in the fridge and use it to thicken soup and chili, to coat and dredge pan fried cakes. It also works well as a one to one sub in almost every baking recipe I've converted.

If you avoid dairy or nuts [Pamela's contains buttermilk and almond flour] try an all-purpose gluten free flour blend from Whole Foods, Bob's Red Mill or Gluten Free Pantry.

For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Pamela's cookies (Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling) processed into crumbs; I use Joy of Cooking's classic cookie/cracker crumb recipe and simply substitute with gluten free cookies.

Add turkey leftovers to nachos, soup, chili pasta, and frittata recipes. Or bake up a batch of Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas.

And one last holiday-kissed morsel- a few nut and crumb pie crust recipes from my baking file.

Almond Macaroon Crust


1 cup ground almond meal (processed almonds)
3/4 cup light brown or cane sugar
1 medium organic free-range egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
A dash of spice - cinnamon or nutmeg


Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease and GF-flour a 9-inch glass pie plate; or use a greased and GF-floured tart pan.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the ground almonds, sugar, egg, extract, salt & spice. Spread the almond mixture into the pie plate and press lightly (with moist fingertips) to form a crust.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, check to see the shape of it, and using a silicone or vinyl spatula, lightly press down any high puffy areas; resume baking for another 2 to 5 minutes, until the crust is firm. Place on a wire rack and again press down the shape to flatten, if needed.

Cool before filling. The crust will get crisper as it cools.

Quick 'n Easy Almond Pie Crust

For one 9-inch tart pan:


1 cup almond meal (processed almonds - pecans also work well)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter or vegan margarine
1 1/2 tablespoons of cream or non-dairy cream


In a food processor, blend all ingredients until dough clumps together. Chill 15 minutes. Roll out the dough on wax paper dusted with either cornstarch or tapioca flour. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan and press in lightly. Chill again till firm, and fill. Bake as directed in your pie recipe; keeping an eye on the edges of the crust. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover the edges with strips of foil. Also make sure your oven rack is in the center of the oven, and not close to the top.

Karina's Note:

To pre-bake for a no-bake filling, I would prick the crust, then bake it at 325 or 350º F for 10 to 15 minutes until firm. Cool before filling.

    Almond Pie Crust

    I've used this crust for pumpkin pie and cheesecake.


    2 cups (heaping) almond or hazelnut meal
    1/2 cup butter/vegan stick margarine, melted
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
    Dash of pie spice or cinnamon, if desired


    Combine all of the ingredients to form a sticky dough. With moist fingertips, press the dough into a greased 9x12-inch baking pan or 2 8-inch glass pie plates. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.

    I've done the same with pecans; I've processed them into meal - pecans make a wonderful nut crust. Some cooks add a little rice flour. I like to add a little coconut flour to the mix. Experiment.

    Gluten-Free Rice Crispy Treats


    Chris said...

    Thank you for these timely tips!

    Lynn Barry said...

    You are such a sweetie..always roll (sorry, for the wheelchair insensitive remark)along in life with whatever comes your are inspiring! HUGS

    Faye said...

    I happen to have made the Pumpkin Corn Muffins last week as a "dry run" to bring food to NC next week. Tonite I will be making 18 of them because they are absolutely the best! Thanks
    Faye said...

    I was thinking of doing tofu for Thanksgiving, but you are so right about black bean and sweet potato enchiladas being the only thing that I'll need. They are awesome!!! We still can't get enough of them =)

    Anonymous said...

    love the oj and carrots idea along with the nut crusts! Got to try them! Thanks, Luv!

    the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

    Thanks for this very useful post. Have you seen my herbed hominy stuffing?
    You can leave out the sunflower seeds , and it will still be wonderful. I love the profile of a big stuffed pumpkin on the holiday table.

    Kristen said...

    thanks for the suggestions! this is our first gluten-free holiday, so i'll be sure to try out some of the recipes you recommend.

    Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

    Thanks for the tips, Karina! Yum.

    Karen said...

    Thanks, Karina,

    This is the first gluten free, dairy free, egg free, etc. holiday for me and one of my friends. We are trying an apple crisp and an alternative pumpkin pie sans crust. But now I want to try some of yours, like the corn muffins, if they will work for me. BTW, I tried your squash with chilies recipe the other day with spaghetti squash. It was fantastic.

    michelle said...

    You're such a wonderful resource, Karina. And although for some reason I haven't been able to comment on your site, I have been devouring every word and bit of advice and inspiration that you've been sending our way, and thus thinking of you and sending you lovely, healing thoughts. xoxoxo

    laura said...

    Karina:I;m new to your blog, but have already shared it with friends. I love the tips and couldn't agree more about everyone loving warm apple crisp!

    Karina said...

    Thanks for all the fab comments, Everyone!

    Rock- and ROLL- onward,


    PS:: Got some art supplies today (for working on some small abstracts-on paper- here in the casita); getting a folding table for the wheelchair tomorrow, so I can set up a mini studio here. ;)

    Yasmine Galenorn said...

    Thanks so much, Karina (and hello, after a number of years). I've been desperately searching for a good pie crust recipe for several years now that's GF, EF, and DF. I *can* have almonds, though, and so will give these a try--they sound so much better than some of the cardboard attempts I've tasted.


    CeliacChick said...

    Hey Karina,

    Is there anyway to omit the brown sugar in the pie crust recipes and use an alternative? Like dates or something? In order to make is sugar free? I'm really excited to make one of these. [mouth watering]

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Karina you have a great blog. I have a question if you don't mind please....My hubby took a home celiac test and a faint line came up. We are going to the doctor but I am curious to ask somebody who is celiac. He bloats instantly after eating any wheat, dairy, any sugars, white rice and finds it hard digesting any meat at all. I know your not a doctor but as somebody who has celiac can you relate to any of this? How long was it before you could digest certain foods? He mainly eats veggies, fish, quinoa, seeds and buckwheat but almost everything else either makes him instantly bloat or so uncomfortable that he has to bring it up just to feel normal again. We will get information off our doctor but sometimes you need to talk to someone in that position for real feedback. Thankyou for reading my comment I know it's a bit long. :) Hope you can reply, Jane :)

    Karina said...

    Heya Yasmine! Hope all is peachy in your neck of the woods!

    Hi Kelly- I honestly don't know. Like all GF baking- experimenting is key. Date sugar could work- in theory. Or you might even try a few raisins tossed into the almonds when you process them. Or how about maple sugar?

    Hi Jane- I'm not a physician so I cannot answer, really. Celiac wreaks havoc with digestion and may cause other issues- heartburn, gas, leaky gut, lactose intolerance, enzyme imbalances, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and most of all additional food allergies and sensitivities.

    It might be wise to get a food allergy blood test if no other testing turns up an answer.

    Take care!


    GFCF Mommy said...

    Hi Karina, just getting back to the blog world after my own busy holiday. I just wanted to say that you are so generous to post such great tips and to share, even though you are still recouperating. Your recipes are always treasures and your resiliance never ceases to amaze me.

    I guess that is why you are a goddess!!

    Hope you are feeling better every day.


    Karina said...

    Hi Katherine!

    Good to see you. And thank you- so much! It means a lot to me.



    Marita said...

    Found your site through a link at Parent Hacks -

    Fantastic Blog. Thank you.

    I've been struggling to find gluten free, dairy free ideas for Christmas.

    Love the cookie pie crust suggestion, I never even thought of that. I make a pretty good dairy free pumpkin pie but was stumped when it came to being gluten free.

    kelly b said...

    Hi Karina - I love your recipies for pie crusts, I can't wait to try them! I've had success with this pecan crust before, it couldn't be simpler and uses a sugar substitute (for those who are looking to avoid sugar.) check it out at: (search "pecan crust")

    Gluten-Free Goddess eBook on iTunes