photography by Molly Winters; featured image from Artful Desperado

Editor’s Note: If you’ve been to Picnik, or even just heard of it, you’re aware that Naomi Seifter and her team are doing something special. Known for their real food and good vibes, the restaurant is the only place in Austin where you can grab bone broth or butter coffee to-go, or sit down for a satisfying meal of secretly gluten-free eats. Just this week I had the best fish tacos of my life at Picnik, and with the indulgent holidays coming up, I know I’ll be stopping by regularly to get my fix of healthy food on the fly. Today, Naomi’s joining us to share how she handles the most glutenous holiday of them all, Thanksgiving. Thought there was no way to get through the day healthily? Think again…

From Naomi: My fondest Thanksgiving Day memory was having my mom teach me how to make her famous stuffing when I was in college. Since I avoided helping out with Thanksgiving dinner as much as possible when I was a kid, I had no idea where to start. Her stuffing was always my favorite part of our Thanksgiving meal growing up, so I knew it was important for her to pass the recipe down to me.

Click here to get Naomi’s recipe for Thanksgiving Leftovers Soup

I had her walk me through the process over the phone. I had all of the ingredients chopped up and sitting in front of me. Butter, mushrooms, onion, fresh sage…

Naomi : “Okay, so where do I start?”

Mom: “So… melt some butter”

Naomi : “Okay, how much butter?”

Mom : “I’m not sure. A chunk?”

Naomi : “How big of a chunk?”

Mom: “I don’t know, thumb sized? Now, sauté some onion.”

Naomi: “How much? And for how long?”

Mom: “I don’t know, a small handful? Cook until it’s done?”

Naomi: “ Okay, onion is cooking. Now what?”

Mom: “Now, add some sage.”

Naomi : “How much?”

Mom: “I don’t know… just like a small pile in the middle of your palm.”

Click here to get Naomi’s recipe for her Orange-Cranberry Chutney

You get the point. There was no recipe. I remember being overwhelmed and frustrated. This was my first time contributing to Thanksgiving dinner, and I really wanted my dish to be perfect. I was absolutely shocked when we sat around the table and my stuffing ended up tasting identical to my Moms.  There was no formula. There was no recipe. Everything was vague and confusing, but it didnt matter because it was cooked with the same love. In the end, I learned how to make a perfect Thanksgiving stuffing, and Ive carried that memory with me forever.

Click here to get Naomi’s recipe for her Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie 

Fast-forward to the year after that Thanksgiving when I learned about my genetic predisposition to Celiac Disease and my gluten allergy. Initially, it was like a death sentence. I could no longer eat my favorite foods. For a college student who lived on cereal, this was definitely a kick in the gut. However, over time, I developed a new repertoire of recipes to prepare for myself and for my loved ones. I developed a passion for making cleaner versions of my holiday favorites that everyone could enjoy. Although I tweak these recipes every year, these are some of my favorite grain-free solutions to your perfect Thanksgiving meal.

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