This gluten free fennel, sausage, and cranberry stuffing is the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving! It is packed with traditional holiday flavor, soft and fluffy on the outside, and crispy on the outside. Best of all, no one will be able to tell it is gluten free!
No offense to the turkey, but side dishes are definitely my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal (and pie the next morning). As I mentioned in my last post, when I was diagnosed with Celiac one of my biggest fears was having to give up my favorite Thanksgiving foods, especially stuffing. My family relies on an old recipe for my Uncle Bo’s Cornbread Dressing. Unlike your usual stuffing, cornbread and bread are all crumbled together instead of cubed, and it has a delicious kick and tons of veggies, but takes a lot of time to prepare. I decided I wanted to put a more traditional (and easier) spin on stuffing for the blog that was loaded with sausage, fennel, and cranberries. The result was an incredibly savory, flavorful stuffing with just a hint of sweetness from the dried cranberries scattered throughout.
Uncle Bo’s original recipe:
A few tidbits about this stuffing. To make the cornbread I used this recipe. I always rely on Cup4Cup for gluten free baked goods, it is easy to substitute and never grainy. It is pricey, but I don’t bake enough to go through a lot of it. For the bread, I used Udi’s white bread, because it is the most widely available, but feel free to substitute your own favorite gluten free bread! You can also customize the veggies and seasonings. Instead of poultry seasoning feel free to use fresh herbs like sage and thyme, this recipe is easy to customize!
I went back and forth for a while on whether or not I wanted to post this here, as it isn’t exactly “health” food. I thought about trying to come up with a Paleo version, but I don’t do well with any of the Paleo flours, and don’t seem to have trouble with gluten free grains here and there, so I wanted to stay true to how I eat. A few years ago, I used to freak out about holidays, or any family get together where I would be eating “bad” food. Now, with the exception of a few foods I won’t eat because they make me so sick, I don’t stress about the occasional indulgence. Balance is important, and beating yourself up over eating that extra slice of pie isn’t going help you on your journey to health. In my case, the guilt only led to more slices of pie, or the attitude of “well, I’ve already ruined my diet today, so I might as well keep eating junk.”
Once I stopped placing this restriction on my foods, especially around the holidays, I gained the ability to eat a reasonable amount and then be done with it, rather than stuffing (pun intended) my face until I felt sick. For example – I made this gigantic pan of stuffing Sunday, had a serving with dinner, and then put the rest in the freezer – so I’ll be able to reheat individual servings when I want them in the future! My Health Coach certification course really forced me to examine my relationship with food. When we are eating, it is important we be in a relaxed, parasympathetic state so that our body can focus on digesting our food. When we are scared that our food is going to make us sick, or cause us to gain weight, or that we are eating something “bad” we get stressed and shift the body to a sympathetic state that isn’t optimized for digestion. This can often lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where the food does make you sick, because you were so worried that that was what was going to happen.
So, this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to just focus on avoiding eating anything that makes you feel truly terrible, and relax. We only get so many opportunities to put our phones down, sit at the dinner table with our closest family and friends, and eat an amazing meal – so enjoy it!
- 1 8x8 Pan of Cornbread
- 1.5 lbs of Breakfast Sausage, Crumbled
- 2 Bulbs of Fennel
- 6 Stalks of Celery
- 2 Onions (sub 2 bunches green onion for low FODMAP)
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 Tbs Butter
- 8 Slices of Gluten Free Bread of your choice
- 1/2 Cup Cranberries
- 4 Eggs
- 4 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp of Poultry Seasoning
- 1 Tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbs Salt, to taste
- Make cornbread and let cool, or buy pre-made.
- Cook Sausage over medium heat until fully cooked, remove from pan.
- Chop the fennel, celery, and onion in a food processor until finely chopped. This may require two batches depending on your food processor's size.
- Add butter to pan where sausage was cooked. Once melted, add vegetables and saute over medium heat until cooked down, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, crumble the cornbread, and break gluten free bread into small pieces.
- Add in cranberries, sausage, vegetables, and eggs to the bread. Mix well.
- Add in chicken broth cup by cup making sure that the mixture is not too watery. It should be moist, similar to a batter.
- Add in Poultry Seasoning, Pepper, and Salt slowly, tasting as you go. The amount of salt you need will be dependent upon how much salt was in your broth.
- Pour into a 9x13 pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees until stuffing is golden brown and crispy on top.