How to Enjoy Thanksgiving on Any Diet

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Having guests or relatives for Thanksgiving? What to do with Aunt Agnes who is gluten intolerant, little cousin Bobby who has a nut allergy and Uncle Harold who has  just gone vegan? Plus, you just invited guest Joe who is on the Paleo diet and his lovely wife who has diabetes. Oh and also Grandpa who was just diagnosed with heart failure and cannot have any salt.  Is it possible to all sit at the same table? Epipens, anti-histamine, diuretics and insulin syringes ready? It is not impossible.


Fortunately, there are a number of food options available from allergy free recipes to prepared vegan wheat-free food products. It is all in the planning. Don’t try to please everyone. The proper approach is to ask each person what he or she likes and what they need to avoid. Each individual can work around the table selecting their preferences. Some restaurant buffet chefs are now labeling their dishes such as vegan, gluten free or listing each recipe ingredient. Your job as the “preparer of the feast” is to be sure there is no cross contamination.


Food intolerances vary from true allergic reactions to simple food preferences. It is important to separate those issues. Gluten intolerance can be a serious autoimmune condition or someone may just want to avoid gluten for weight loss or other issues besides celiac disease.

Allergic producing food products:

  • Nuts, peanuts
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Shell fish, seafood
  • Chocolate


  • Diabetic
  • Lactose free
  • Ornish Diet, Pritikin Diet reduced fat plant-based diet
  • Paleo, avoidance of grains, carbohydrates
  • Vegetarian: Vegan…no dairy or animal products. Lacto-ovo…dairy, eggs, cheese allowed. Note various combinations also No fish, poultry or meat products. Pescetarian…includes fish and seafood products. Flexitarian…optional choices.
  • Gluten free
  • No added saltThe Turkey 

    The Ikea Turkey

    (Assemblage is required)


    The MVP (most valuable player) is the turkey. For vegetarians, it is a challenge, but for poultry fans, bring it on. Below is a fast method to roast a turkey. Assembly is required. I call it the Ikea Turkey. Say good-bye to hours of roasting a turkey. The recipe requires only 75 minutes. It uses a boneless turkey breast….your grocer has these in the case. Don’t panic dark meat lovers; I have included two turkey legs. The problem of roasting a turkey is the breast is best at 1700F while the legs are done at 1800 F. This turkey comes in parts, so put the legs in first for 30 minutes and then add the breast. Cook for about 75 minutes until the temperature reaches 1700 F. Dressing can be stuffed underneath the breast. Slicing is easy as there are no bones in the breast.


    The turkey:

    3-4 pound turkey boneless breast

    2 turkey legs plus thighs if more dark meat is needed

    Cooking twine

    Olive oil

    Salt and pepper

    Set oven at 3500 F. Place the legs and thighs that have been brushed with olive oil into the roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Add the breast, coating with olive oil and salt/pepper. Cover with foil. Roast for 75 minutes until done. To create a golden surface, roast uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve on a platter with the legs in position. Enjoy.


    The Vegetarian Turkey


    There are several options for vegetarian non-meat  “turkey roasts”.  Some are gluten-free and others are totally vegan (no animal products used). Refer to the ingredient label.

  • Below are a few options:
    • Gardein Holiday Roast with cranberry, kale and wild rice stuffing.

    Vegan, Non-GMO, contains wheat, soy and canola oil. Sodium 380 mg/serving

    • Tofurky Veggie Roast & wild rice stuffing

    Vegan, Non-GMO, contains wheat, soy and canola oil. Sodium 650 mg/serving

    • Quorn Turk’y Roast

    Non-Vegan (egg whites & milk), Non-GMO, meatless, soy & gluten free. 540 mg sodium/serving


    Quinoa Millet Sage Stuffing with Kale, Cranberries and Apples

    Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten-free, Nut-free



    Stuffing can be a problem, but this recipe is easy and is bread free. The flavors are terrific and the health benefits are excellent. The cranberries & apples off set the kale bitterness.



    ½ cup quinoa, rinsed well

    ½ cup millet, rinsed well

    3 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth, divided into 2 cups and 1 cup

    1T olive oil

    1 cup diced celery

    1 medium onion diced

    1 package fresh poultry herbs, chopped

    1 bunch kale, washed, inner stems removed, chopped

    ½ cup whole cranberries

    1 apple, cored, but do not peel


    Optional 1T sugar


    Bring 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Add the quinoa and millet. Set to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and steam for another 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid. When time is up, fluff with a fork.

    In a medium sauté pan, add the oil, onions, celery and poultry seasonings. When softened, add the other cup of vegetable broth and cranberries. Sauté until cranberries are softened as well. Add the kale and sauté until wilted.

  • In a medium casserole dish, add the cooked quinoa and millet. Add the chopped apples and the celery/cranberry mixture. Stir to combine. Bake at 3750 F for 15 minutes. Hint: to brown the surface, place under the broiler for 5 minutes. If dressing is too dry, add more vegetable broth. 

    Serves 8

    Nutrition Info:  Calories: 200, Total Fat: 4 g, Saturated Fat: .5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 50 mg, Carbohydrate: 33 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 9 g


    Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Starch

    Roasted Vegetables

    Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten-free


    Roasted vegetables are the standard fare and satisfying to most at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Other than taste preferences, vegetables are the least problematic on the menu. If a person cannot have added oil (Ornish or Pritikin Diets), omit the oil and use unsweetened apple cider. The pectin in the apple juice serves as oil and will help to cameralize the veggies along with the natural sugars in the apples. Use a separate bowl to toss the oil or apple juice, so that everything is coated evenly.


    Let your imagination create your vegetables of choice, but remember not all vegetables roast on the same time line. To insure even roasting, cut the size of the vegetables evenly. Use a large roasting pan and allow plenty of space between the veggies. Start with the harder vegetables or use two roasting pans and combine the quick roasting vegetables with the longer roasted veggies.

    Cooking times are for roasting vegetables at 425°F.

    • Root vegetables (beets, potatoes, carrots): 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
    • Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash): 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
    • Crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts): 15 to 25 minutes
    • Soft vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers): 10 to 20 minutes
    • Thin vegetables (asparagus, green beans): 10 to 20 minutes
    • Onions: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them


    Prepare the veggies. Be sure to carefully scrub the root vegetables and remove stems. Chop evenly into cubes, toss to coat and place in a roasting pan. Roast at 4250 F for 30-45 minutes. I prefer to cover the vegetables for the first half hour and then toss again in the pan and complete roasting for another 15 minutes.


    Delicious Quick Gravy

    A fabulous sauce will create the applause…The Cooking Cardiologist

    Many a home cook will fear the last portion of the menu…creating the gravy. It is usually made “post hast” with the food ready to be served. How to make it flour free, gluten free, dairy free, fat free, vegan and still taste great. They already invented it! Purchase Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy. Just add water and tell no one!