Stuffing recipes can be changed to meet dietary needs. 

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As the matriarch of her family, Linda Kerner has always taken on the tradition of hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Since her 40s, Kerner, a retired restaurant cook, would whip up pounds of mashed potatoes and prepare a half dozen side dishes while cooking two, 15-pound turkeys in the oven. And all this after spending the previous two days baking desserts.

"I truly enjoy it," Kerner said. "I have never been short of helpers in the kitchen, so I've never felt overwhelmed."

But throughout the years, her recipes have transitioned from those of her grandmother to "doctored" versions catering to loved ones with special requests.

She said it all started when her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune illness in which individuals can't eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

One of the staples that needed to be transformed was her dressing or stuffing.

"Going gluten-free for our family meals hasn't been that difficult, really," Kerner said. "Today there are so many gluten-free bread cube options. I literally use those instead of traditional bread crumbs in my grandma's recipe. No problems."

Other great alternatives to bread crumbs are making homemade bread from almond flour, corn flakes, gluten-free crackers, gluten-free pretzels, rice or corn Chex cereal.

The accommodations, however, didn't end there. Kerner said that with a family of about 40 people, there are bound to be allergies and other dietary restrictions along the way.

Four of her children and grandchildren are vegetarian and have been for more than 10 years.

"They don't mind at all that we still have a turkey, they just don't eat any of the meat dishes," Kerner said.

Yet vegetarian is more than the obvious cooked, large bird on a platter. Many foods, as simple as they may seem, can contain animal products.

One that may have that hidden animal ingredient is dressing. Most recipes, including boxed versions, use chicken or turkey broth. Kerner uses vegetable broth instead.

Kerner adds that vegetarian dressing cannot be cooked inside the turkey either. She said some people forget that.

3/4 cup butter

1 large chopped yellow onion

1 large chopped carrot

2 stalks of chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped sage

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 teaspoon of chopped thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/4 cups vegetable stock

12 ounces gluten-free bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, carrot, celery and 1 tablespoon of sage. Cook until the vegetables are soft.

Add in garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Cook about one minute before adding the vegetable stock. Remove from heat.

Place gluten-free bread crumbs into a baking dish and add the rest of the sage and broth mixture. Stir until coated.

Bake 45 minutes to an hour. Stir at 25 minutes into baking.

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This article originally ran on newspressnow.com.


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