Cornbread Stuffing

I still remember the first Thanksgiving my mom spent after cutting wheat, dairy and sugar out of her diet. I sat across from her at the table, sheepishly enjoying my mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce as she picked at her plate of boiled potatoes and plain turkey. Wow, I never want to have to do that…I thought to myself. Little did I know that three months later I would be sitting in a doctor’s office listening to a diagnosis that was, essentially, a “not to do” list that included some of my favorite foods. I immediately thought about Thanksgiving. For years, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. It’s not just the food, but also the atmosphere. No one is rushed, there is little stress leading up to the big day, and everyone can just eat and relax, take a nap, and watch football. Still, it all comes down to the food, and Thanksgiving just wouldn’t seem the same (at least not to me) without some good old-fashioned sides to go along with the turkey.

Eventually my mom did find a way to bring the traditional sides back to our Thanksgiving meal with some simple substitutions: unsweetend soy milk and Earth Balance in the mashed potatoes, stevia and xylitol for the cranbery sauce, and a cornstarch-thickened instead of flour-thickened gravy. But the one thing we never seemed to be able to replace was the stuffing. This year, I decided to experiment by making a gluten free cornbread stuffing — not an entirely novel idea, but something that, truthfully, I had never thought about making until now. I went traditional with the flavors — nothing too fancy or different — but I think this recipe would be very amenable to additions and experimentaion. I included the gluten-free cornbread recipe here, too, which can be made in advance or just before making the stuffing.

Gluten Free Cornbread:

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk or almond milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Pour batter into a greased, 9×9 inch baking dish or cast iron skillet and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Let cool.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing:

1 medium sweet onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1 recipe gluten free cornbread

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large skillet or saute pan, saute onion and celery in buttery spread over low heat until soft and transluscent, about 15 minutes. Add garlic in last 5 minutes of cooking. Add vegetable broth and increase heat to medium. Bring to a simmer. Remove onions and celery from heat. Crumble cornbread into skillet. Add parsley and thyme. Stir to combine and until liquid is absorbed.

3. Transfer stuffing to a baking dish and bake, covered in foil, in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown the top. Alternately, use recipe to stuff turkey or any other poultry.

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