Thanksgiving Thoughts: Vegan Gluten Free Cornbread (to eat or for Stuffing)

“It just requires a bit of planning….”

I was chatting with friends this week about Thanksgiving and the fact that I am making Thanksgiving dinner for folks who are vegan in addition to the folks with all the food allergies in our family. As someone who enjoys hosting and creating menus, this fact doesn’t overwhelm me, but I realized as I chatted with a person in line at the grocery store yesterday, that for some, cooking for folks with food restrictions seems daunting.

I explained to the woman in line that it doesn’t have to be. It just requires a bit of planning. And with that in mind, I thought I’d take the initiative over the next couple of weeks to post some recipes and thoughts which might be helpful for folks who need to think about family members with food sensitivities.

As it happens, I promised my mother-in-law that I’d make cornbread for a gathering this weekend, and I thought it would be a good chance to talk about stuffing. Many folks believe Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without stuffing. I am inclined to agree. If you are wheat or gluten sensitive, though, traditional stuffing won’t work for you. The nice thing about today’s world, though, is that you can choose from a variety of ready-made whole grain gluten free breads which you can simply substitute for regular bread in any stuffing recipe.

If you’re looking for something a little different, though, cornbread stuffing is a nice addition to any Thanksgiving meal. If there are food allergies, though, it is not as easy to find cornbread “stuffing” bread which is gluten, dairy, nut, and egg free. There are certainly gluten free mixes which you can swap out vegan alternatives for the butter, eggs and milk the box will tell you add, but if you’re going to take the time to do that, you may as well make your own from scratch which won’t take you any longer to do.

The recipe below is one I created for making a vegan, gluten free cornbread. You can make it as bread to eat or turn into corn muffins. You can also turn them into cubes for using in stuffing recipes.

Vegan, Gluten Free Cornbread

Ingredients:

2 tbsp ground golden flax seed

6 tbsp hot water

1/4 cup agave (optional) or additional 1/4 cup cold water

3 tbsp vegan butter

2 tbsp agave

1 1/2 cup dairy free milk of choice (I usually use soy milk)

2 cups favorite whole grain gluten free flour blend

1 cup gluten free cornmeal

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp chives

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp other herb of choice (like rosemary, sage, marjoram, or a mixture of all three)

1/2 tsp ground onion powder

1 tbsp vinegar (white or apple cider)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare pan with parchment paper or favorite method of greasing the pan.**
  2. Mix the ground flax seed with the water and allow it to thicken. If you are used to “regular” cornbread, once the flax seed mixture has thickened add the agave. If you prefer a more savory cornbread, use water in place of the agave.
  3. Melt the vegan butter and add 2 tbsp of agave (regardless of whether you added the above 1/4 or not). Set aside.
  4. Measure out the milk and set aside.
  5. Mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chives, thyme, herb choice, and onion powder.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, mix into the dry ingredients the flax seed mixture until you have a mixture which looks like coarse crumbs.
  7. Add the butter mixture, the milk and the vinegar and whisk together quickly just until incorporated and somewhat smooth.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes until puffed and golden and a finger pressed into the top reveals that the cornbread is firm to the touch.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

** If you’d prefer making cornbread muffins for Thanksgiving dinner, you can spoon the batter into greased muffin tins and bake until the muffins have puffed and are golden and firm to the touch. Usually the muffins will only need about 15 minutes, if using a traditional sized muffin tin.

To make cornbread crouton cubes for stuffing: To turn them into cubes for making stuffing from it, you simply cut the cooled cornbread into the size cubes you desire, lightly coat the cubes with a neutral tasting plant oil such as extra light olive oil, place the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven until they have dried into a crouton-texture. Most recipes for croutons will tell you to use higher temps like 400 degrees. I prefer to use a lower temp of 250 degrees, and I shake or turn the cubes over a couple of times during the process. It’s up to you what you choose, but what’s important is to definitely check on them every ten minutes or so and pull them out as soon as they dry out. You don’t want to brown or burn them. Once you have the cornbread croutons, then you can substitute those into any of your favorite cornbread stuffing recipe.

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