The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

5 Thanksgiving recipes for different dietary restrictions

Beckett Green

While Thanksgiving is valued for a number of reasons, such as gathering with friends and family, reflecting on the year and remembering what you’re grateful for, we all know what the main attraction is — the food. 

Every family has their own dishes they bring to the table, or maybe a completely different version of a Thanksgiving dinner, but traditionally the Thanksgiving feast consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and more. However, Thanksgiving dinner tends to look a bit different for people with dietary restrictions. 

As people adopt new diets or gather with new friends who have allergies or restrictions, it might be difficult to adjust the menu to accommodate them. So, if you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this November, thinking of what to bring to a potluck to give an option that aligns with specific diets, consider these five recipes.


Vegetarian zucchini pie:

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For vegetarians, most of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes can still be included on their plates, besides the obvious and widely recognized star of the show — the turkey. If you want to offer a vegetarian substitute for the main dish that’s a bit more original than Tofurkey, try this easy and delicious zucchini pie. 


3 cups of thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini

1 chopped small onion

1 cup of Bisquick

½ cup shredded parmesan or shredded cheddar cheese

4 beaten eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

½ tsp ground marjoram

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in the zucchini and make sure it is completely covered by the batter in the bowl. Pour the mixture into a greased pie dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


For vegan and dairy–free diets, one of the biggest challenges is making a dessert. The classic pumpkin pie contains several eggs and multiple cans of evaporated milk. If pies aren’t your thing and you want your dessert to stand out, here are a couple of recipes you can try out.


Dairy-free 7 Up pound cake

This lemon-lime-flavored pound cake is not only delicious and fun to make, but will also break up a bit of the monotony of all the traditional fall flavors with its citrusy taste. It’s sure to impress even your lactose-tolerant friends.


1 ½ cups butter, softened (butter is usually suitable for people following dairy-free diets, but if you’d like you can swap this for vegan butter)

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

¾ cup 7 Up soda

1 tbsp lemon extract

2 tsp vanilla extract


The first step is to take your butter and cream it. As you do this, gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour alternately with 7 Up. Blend in the extracts. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes. To check if the cake is done, insert a wooden toothpick into the middle of the cake and, once it is finished, the toothpick will come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Vegan/dairy-free/gluten-free ginger cookies

These flavorful cookies are a great vegan dessert, as the intense flavors of the spices dilute the flavors created by whichever egg substitute you choose to use. They can also easily be made gluten-free by swapping the flour for gluten-free flour.


½ cup vegan butter softened

⅔ cup sugar

3 tbsp molasses

Any vegan substitute for 1 egg — I like to use 1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water

¾ tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

1 ⅔ cups gluten-free flour

⅔ cups almond flour

⅓ cup cornstarch


Combine flours, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl. 

In a separate bowl from the dry mixtures, cream vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flax seed mixture and molasses, then mix. Gradually add the flour mixture until a thick dough forms. Once combined, chill the dough for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes of chilling the dough, scoop the dough into balls and roll them in cinnamon sugar. Place them on a parchment-lined or greased pan. Bake the balls at 375 degrees for 10-11 minutes, depending on the power of your oven.


While creating new, original dishes to accommodate dietary restrictions can help spice up Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes it can be nice to just make the same traditional dishes with slight alterations so everyone can enjoy the Thanksgiving classics.


Vegan/gluten-free mashed potatoes with gravy

To make a vegan alternative to the added milk to your mashed potatoes, you are able to use almond or oat milk. However, the flavors of the milk alternatives will often create an interesting and not necessarily good flavor. Instead, you can make mashed potatoes completely without milk. Just add vegan butter, salt and pepper and some roasted garlic if you want some extra flavor. 

To make vegan and gluten-free gravy, combine 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 tsp onion powder, 3 tbsp yeast, 1 tbsp tamari, and ¼ cup brown rice flour and boil until the gravy thickens. 


Gluten-free Stuffing:


1 loaf of gluten-free bread, cut into cubes

1 ¼ cups chicken stock

2 tbsp olive oil

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup melted butter

2 eggs

¼ – ½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme

½ tsp pepper


Place cubed bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toast at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until dry and toasty. The time will vary depending on the size of your bread cubes.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, and then add onion, celery and a large pinch of salt. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add spices, garlic and ¼ salt. Then, cook for two to three minutes. Set it aside once done. 

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Heat the chicken stock until simmering, then slowly add to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.

Combine bread cubes, vegetable mixture and the egg with stock mixture and gently stir. Pour into a greased dish, cover tightly with foil and bake covered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. 


Making Thanksgiving dinner available for everyone doesn’t have to be difficult — there are so many ways to alter traditional dishes and many unique recipes to accommodate any diet. Whether it’s with one of the recipes listed above or another you’ve found, don’t lose hope of making the holiday more enjoyable for yourself or others on your guest list who follow certain diets. 



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