Is There More to Turkey Than You Think?

We’ve been working out our Thanksgiving Day menu with my extended family that we’re visiting in Charlotte, NC. Well, they started a list and I’ve added to it and modified it a bit so Tristan can partake as equally as possible.

This is what we’re working on so far. It’s all VERY traditional and not necessarily healthy – it’s the holidays, splurge 🙂

  • Turkey (Ok as is, or so I thought….)
  • Gravy (If I can manage to figure out an allergy free recipe, then that’s what I’ll do.)
  • Stuffing (There is no hope with this one. Tristan will just not have any.)
  • Harvest Rice (I offered to make this allergy free recipe to add something else to Tristan’s holiday plate.)
  • Sweet potato casserole (I asked for one sweet potato to be kept on the side.)
  • Broccoli salad (I asked for some broccoli to be kept on the side so I can steam it just for him.)
  • Cranberry Sauce (Probably won’t be allergy free, but he doesn’t need it anyway.)
  • Pumpkin pie (I may try to push for an allergy free recipe, or maybe Tristan just won’t have it. He’s not used to having dessert anyway.)
  • French silk pie (Tristan will skip.)

BUT, then I came across a post by USA SillyYaks about gluten in turkey. Honesty, turkey was the one item on the Thanksgiving menu that I didn’t think twice about. Turkey is turkey, pure and simple. Brush the bird with olive oil, stick some onions in the cavity, maybe some herbs, and voila! Easy, breezy, allergy free!


Turkey producers inject basting solutions into their birds, which sometimes contain additives and potential food allergies (mainly milk, soy, and wheat), to make them “tender and juicy.” Because we all know turkey, is not always the most moist meat.

So, what are allergy wary folks to do?

Like always, read the labels. USDA and the Canada Labeling Regulations require the top 8 allergens (wheat, eggs, soy, milk, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts) be listed on packaging. Interestingly enough, Butterball Fresh products primarily seem to be allergy free in the US. but in Canada, the fresh Butterball turkeys contain allergens, but the frozen usually do not. I find that VERY strange.

Of course, if you are really worried – order a fresh organic turkey from your nearest turkey farm.

Good luck planning your Thanksgiving feasts! And let’s not think too far ahead to Christmas. In our family ham used to be the meat served….oh my, now that is one allergy-free nightmare.

Don’t forget what this holiday is about…being THANKFUL! We beat eczema (mostly) this year, so I am extremely thankful for that!


  1. Linda on November 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I was wondering why he cannot have stuffing.

    Also, have you ever tried using rice milk as a sub for cows milk? I use it in everything that calls for cows milk.

    • Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Linda – He can’t have soy, dairy, corn, gluten, some nuts and some fruits and veggies. I would love a great stuffing recipe that doesn’t contain any of these allergies. Do you have one? You’ll be my hero :)!!!

      • Linda on November 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

        Oh. Ok. I thought I saw that he was only allergic to dairy, peanuts and tree nuts. I’ll see what I can find and let you know:)

        • Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm

          Yes, multiple allergies tend to make cooking, especially baking, a wee bit more challenging 🙂 Thank you!!!!

  2. Tracy Bush on November 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I have a recipe for stuffing, if you’d like it. I also just received a pumpkin pie recipe as well as a simple herb gravy recipe. If you’d like them, just let me know. My son is allergic to eggs, uncooked dairy, gluten, watermelon and peanuts.

    • Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Yes! Definitely! Do you want to post the link here, on your site, or email them to me? This is great, thanks! Jennifer

  3. Maggie on November 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    My goal this Thanksgiving is gluten-free, dairy-free stuffing. I can’t decide if I’m going to try coconut bread, cornbread or some other kind of gf bread to make it with. This weekend will be my trial run 😉

    I hate all the crazy garbage they soak turkeys in! We found a great farm near us for our birds. Try Local Harvest for listings of turkey farms in your area.

    Regarding your comment on my site, I’m not sure how cranberries would do but they are similar in taste to autumn berries so why not try it. Let me know if you do.

    • Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      Oh, please try something without corn – I’d love to try your recipe and we can’t do corn. Ketchup is something I’d love to make, but is something I can never find the to prepare. Hopefully your recipe will motivate me! Jennifer

  4. Carrie on November 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I never knew that turkeys could have gluten? Maybe that is why for years I have ordered an organic free ranch turkey from a local farmer here in Calgary. If you have allergies never never take anything for granted-even meat!
    Carrie (wheatfreemom)

    • Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      I know, me either! Now I’m freaking out about all the meat and poultry, and even fish we eat – if it’s farm raised. Guess this is something I’m going to look into. I buy chicken breasts, and cuts of beef and pork at the grocery store and they don’t have to list the ingredients – but I’m SURE there is stuff in there. I wonder why it must be listed on whole turkeys, but not individual pieces of other products. Strange.

  5. Jennifer on November 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Great idea – thanks! I’ll find some good sandwich bread at the store.

  6. Jen Brown on November 16, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Living as an expat in the UK, my group of American friends have really bent over backwards in previous years to make everything gluten free for my little celiac. Too bad she never actually wanted to eat much of it….

    So this year I’m making two sides and a dessert that are gluten free and that I know she’ll eat (and the rest will be made however). So I’m making: (1) sweet potatoes; (2) stuffing made with gf bread (I’ll use the Genius what loaf over here, in the US I’d use Udis); and (3) a gf cake of some sort that all the kids will probably eat in lieu of pumpkin pie.

    As for stuffing, if Udi’s doesn’t work for your little one, what about a rice or quinoa based stuffing? Good luck!

    • Jennifer on November 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Hi Jen – Isn’t it frustrating when you, or someone else, bakes special allergy free foods for the kids and then they don’t eat it! I’ve been experiencing that a lot this week. Thank goodness I enjoy cooking! I think I’ll be doing something similar to you – a few things he can enjoy and then the rest is off limits. A full allergy free meal is too much when only one person is allergic, and not anaphylactic (thank goodness). We have some good breads here that are allergy free. And I’m pretty sure in Charlotte, where we’re going, they’ll have Udi’s at the Earth Fare store. Thanks!!! Jennifer

  7. VintageMom on November 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

    This is so interesting! It explains something that I’ve been wondering about for years … my husband only SOMETIMES has an allergic reaction to turkey. I had no idea there were additives in it! Amazing what food producers do that we have no clue about.

    Lisa @ Allergy Free Vintage Cookery

    • Jennifer on November 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

      I know – it’s horrible! Just be careful to read the labels this year and he should be fine. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  8. Jessica on November 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Jennifer, I’m just glad you found my blog and read it. I would hate your little guy to have gotten sick from the turkey. You would have NEVER been able to pin point where the problem was.

    • Jennifer on November 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

      You’re right. I never ever would have guessed it was from turkey. Great post! Thanks. Jennifer

  9. Jennifer on November 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

    That stuffing receipe sounds great! I haven’t seen Namaste locally, but we do have Food for Life and they have some really great allergy free bread that is shockingly moist.
    Isn’t it ironic that all the natural stuff is more expensive than the processed stuff. Really, it should be the other way around. The more junk they add, you’d think the more expensive it would be. Yuck. Thanks for the recipe! Jennifer

  10. Susan H. on November 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    i didn’t realize gluten was an issue with turkeys either. Gluten isn’t a problem for my sons. I switched to my local butcher for fresh turkeys due to the injections of ‘stuff’ that was going into turkeys. We love them much better! For your stuffing, if you can find a gluten free bread you like, substituting the butter for canola oil you could make a stuffing. For the gravy, I cook the giblets from the turkey in a mixture of white wine and vegetable broth with carrots, celery and onion, to thicken you could use a GF flour. I have recipes for these that are dairy free but not gluten on my blog. You could bring a baked good for dessert for just your son or enough for all. Leftovers are good for the rest of the trip. I know how difficult it can be celebrating holidays outside of your own kitchen…I tend to bring as much as I can premade or ready to be made to make things easier for all. Good luck! susan H @ the food allergy chronicles

    • Jennifer on November 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      I wish we could bring it all with us, but we’re flying, internationally. We moved to Canada a couple of years ago. I don’t know any of the allergy free products in the states since Tristan was just diagnosed a few months ago. We’ll figure it out, but I’ll have a VERY long time at the closest healthy grocery store. Gravy – good idea. Thanks!

  11. Susan H. on November 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Hi again! Ashley at the edible perspective just posted her stuffing recipe and gives a vegan version. It would be worth checking it out. She is doing a cranberry sauce tomorrow. Hope it helps. susan H. @ the food allergy chronicles

    • Jennifer on November 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Hey – She has a GREAT site! I love her super healthy recipes and the photos are great! Thanks for introducing me to this blog. Jennifer

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