Stuffing is a recipe most people don’t dare toy with. Classic holiday dishes are sometimes best left as they are. We certainly don’t want to upset our dear mom, grandmother, spouse, or great aunt who spent laborious hours in the kitchen preparing the meal that they do every year. Stuffing is one of those foods you just don’t touch here in the South, (which we actually refer to as cornbread dressing, not stuffing.) The reason being that many people make their stuffing with crusty bread. We, however, make ours with freshly made cornbread. That doesn’t mean our stuffing is healthier- oh no, we prepare the homemade cornbread to go in the stuffing with eggs, oil, sometimes butter, and many times fresh, fatty turkey broth right after it’s finished cooking. This is a nightmare to anyone on a plant-based diet or those looking to eat healthy, period.
I have to say though, stuffing was always one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, but not because of the animal ingredients. The spices and bread-like texture in stuffing are what really make it an edible success: sage, black pepper, salt, and fresh onion and celery. That’s where the flavor is at. The rest can be maneuvered a bit to fit any dietary choice and still be delicious.
For those on a gluten-free diet, any gluten-free baking mix will do, or if you like to make your stuffing with bread, there are many free gluten-free breads on the market that would suffice. However, what about those on a grain-free diet for digestive or other health reasons? No need to worry, friends. You can successfully pull off a delicious stuffing that is grain and gluten-free and completely vegan. No, you say? Let’s get started!
Take any typical stuffing recipe you enjoy and make the following adjustments:
1. Choose a Flavorful Alternative Flour
There are a few different alternative flours that work particularly well in gluten and grain-free stuffing. The best being: chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, almond meal (not almond flour), and coconut flour. All of these will make excellent gluten and grain-free stuffing flours. I suggest using chickpea and quinoa flour for a more savory stuffing and teff, almond, or coconut flour for a still savory dressing with a very subtly sweet background.
Since there are no grain-free vegan breads on the market, buying storebought bread to make a bread-based stuffing isn’t that wonderful of an option. And while corn is considered a vegetable, perfect for gluten-free eaters, corn is technically a grain and will not work for grain-free eaters. If you tolerate corn just fine, 100 percent cornmeal makes a wonderful stuffing I’d suggest you mix with another flour of choice. Follow these guidelines for baking with substitutes so you can decide which is right for you and check out how to substitute any ingredient in your vegan recipes. If you’re not interested in making a cornbread or bread-based stuffing at all, then whole quinoa, teff, amaranth, or even wild rice makes a perfect stuffing alternative to flour and are completely grain and gluten-free.
I opt for this lower carb, grain-free stuffing and I simply use egg substitutes where the eggs are called for and vegetable broth where turkey broth is called for.
2. Let’s Talk Egg Alternatives
Now here’s where you have a few other options. Common substitutions for eggs include one of the following: a chia or flax egg made with 1 tablespoon of the seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water to form a gel-like consistency that will act just like an egg in a recipe. I find that grinding the seeds before using them adds a better flour-like texture instead of using whole seeds, and will also thicken the recipe just as wonderfully as using the whole seeds would. It’s a personal preference, but for recipes where I don’t want whole seeds to be included in the texture, I opt for grinding my seeds first. Another amazing thickener is psyllium husk powder, which I prefer to use in combination with both a flax and chia egg. Psyllium is a well-known digestive aid since it is rich in fiber, and is completely tasteless. You can use it just like you would a chia or flax egg and combine it with any liquid. It’s sold in husk form and powder form. I find both offer the same result and offer no taste. You could opt for egg-free replacement products, but they’re often full of starches that are harder to digest, most commonly rice, tapioca, and arrowroot powder. Many also include potato starch which some people may or may not tolerate. Choose whichever egg substitute suits you best. If you use coconut flour, it comes with additional thickening properties that aid in binding but you will need to use another binder such as chia, flax, or psyllium along with it for the best results.
3. Don’t Forget the Flavor!
As mentioned, the best part about stuffing is the flavor, so don’t leave the flavorful ingredients out! Here’s what you’ll need to make it a success: 100 percent vegetable broth (no sodium added), fresh Himalayan sea salt or another sea salt, ground or coarse grind black pepper, rubbed (not ground) sage, and freshly chopped and diced celery, whole sliced mushrooms, and freshly diced onions. Some people even add in lentils for their binding and flavorful, meaty texture. These will be the best ingredients to add flavor to your stuffing without any turkey, chicken, or other animal-based broth.
Stuffing Recipes for Success:
Try substituting some of the above flours in these grain based vegan stuffing recipes, or try some of the gluten-free suggestions below:
- Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffing (made with rice)
- Vegan Wild Rice, Cranberry and Pine Nut Stuffing With a Gluten-Free Option
- Cornbread Stuffing with Bell Peppers (use substitution suggestions above for the cornbread)
- Vegan Chestnut Mushroom Stuffing (use flour substitutes or choose a gluten-free bread here)
- Onion Celery and Mushroom Stuffing (use flour substitutions or use the gluten-free bread)
- Thanksgiving Vegan Cornbread Stuffing with Gravy (substitute the all purpose flour with a gluten-free or alternative flour above and use flax instead of breadcrumbs)
If you’re a gluten-free or grain-free eater and have a delicious recipe or tips to share, please leave comments below- we’d love to hear them!
Image Source: Vegan Chestnut Mushroom Stuffing