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A feast of alternatives

Meatless and wheatless choices for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner
By: Megan Wood The Press-Tribune
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Planning a Thanksgiving dinner is difficult enough, but add guests with dietary restrictions and it becomes far more stressful to accommodate everyone. With food allergies and intolerances like celiac disease on the rise, and the ethics involved with becoming vegetarian or vegan, serving a traditional Thanksgiving could mean some guests go hungry. Luckily, many stores including Whole Foods Market and Sunrise Natural Foods in Roseville have all the bases covered whether it is food preparation, classes, cookbooks or questions. Melissa Minor, a Roseville resident, decided to become a vegetarian 10 years ago. For the past three years she has traveled to the Bay Area to have Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend’s family and each year she brings her own dinner. Minor takes her own turkey alternative but does eat Thanksgiving side dishes such as sweet potatoes, cranberry dressing and green beans without bacon. “Every vegetarian is different. Some just don’t eat meat but will eat gravy and chicken stock,” Minor said. For those hosts and hostesses planning to accommodate a vegetarian for any meal, Minor suggests calling first to see what he or she will eat. Preparing a cheese course or offering additional sides like wild rice or a vegetable-based soup are simple options that everybody at the table can enjoy. A frittata is an easy side to prepare that is high in protein and can easily replace the main dish for a vegetarian guest. According to Rebecca Bakken, associate store team leader for Whole Foods Market, a menu of side dishes and entire meals can be pre-ordered at Whole Foods, which could take the stress out of holiday meal planning. A meatless vegan holiday dinner can include stuffed acorn squash, vegan mashed potatoes and poached saffron pears. Donna Riddell, a Granite Bay resident, was diagnosed last year with celiac disease. This year she will prepare a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner for her family featuring cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, gluten-free gravy and a turkey that has not been treated with flavorings or chemicals, which can sometimes contain gluten. “I’ve learned to take my old recipes and make them gluten-free,” Riddell said. “At first it took a lot of time, but now I’ve pretty much got it down.” Sunrise Natural Foods and Whole Foods Market carry many options including a gluten-free turkey substitute, gravy mixes, gluten-free breads and baking mixes, even pre-made pies. “We carry lots of gluten-free products because celiac disease is so common now,” said Carol Kreuzer, marketing and special events manager for Sunrise Natural Foods. “We also have lots of cookbooks and books about celiac disease so that people can be educated about the disease.” Both Sunrise Natural Foods and Whole Foods Market, and more recently Raley’s, have entire food sections and brands devoted to gluten-free products that enable a person with celiac disease to make easy changes to their diets. “My pantry is completely different from a year ago,” Riddell said. “It takes longer to shop and more stops to get the things you need, but the payoff of feeling better makes all the difference.”