Autism-friendly stuffing you can make these holidays

It’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S., and Christmas is around the corner.

If you’re following an autism-friendly diet, you might be wondering what special meals to prepare these holidays… With so many temptations, treats and special occasions, you might even entertain the idea of skipping the restricted diet for a few meals. But don’t!

Whenever we’ve dropped our guard about diet, we’ve paid the price later in hyperactive and loopy behaviour.

We will never forget a Thanksgiving several years ago. We had been following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for some time, but had not yet “gone organic” with the diet. Linnea became hyperactive and loopy for several days after Thanksgiving, with no letup. Not fun, not fun at all!

We finally tracked the problem down to the “self-basting” turkey. The label on “the bird” did not declare any ingredients containing dairy or gluten products. But it turned out that some of the ingredients of a “self-basting” turkey apparently may combine to mimic gluten. A friend who has celiac disease loaned us a very thick university reference book which helped us identify the problem. We immediately stopped giving Linnea leftover turkey, and within a day her behaviour was back to “normal”.

Here’s an autism-friendly stuffing recipe that you can try with oven-baked organic chicken or turkey, rice and a vegetable.. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free and made with organic ingredients. Feel free to substitute apples for the pears, and to omit the cashew nuts if you wish.


Autism-friendly stuffing (4 generous servings)

5 cups bread croutons, made from gluten-free, organic bread, toasted, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes
3 medium-sized organic pears, peeled, diced
1 cup organic celery, peeled, diced
2 mid-sized yellow onions (on EWG’s clean fifteen list, so no need to be organic), peeled, diced
½ cup of organic cashew nuts, roasted, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of organic garlic, peeled, minced
2 tbsp chopped organic parsley (optional)
1 tbsp chopped organic chives (optional)
1 ¾ cups organic vegetable or chicken broth (1 bouillon cube dissolved in hot water)
1 tsp salt or to taste
¼ tsp pepper or to taste
2 tbsp organic canola oil for frying



1. Heat oven to 350 F/175 C.

2. Toast bread in a toaster. Dice it and put it in an oven-safe dish (9 inch/23 cm diameter or equivalent rectangular size). Roast cashews in the oven, for about 7 minutes.

2. In large fry pan, combine canola oil, onion, celery, garlic, pears, salt, pepper, parsley (optional) and chives (optional). Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are soft, 5 – 7 min. Add to bread in the oven-safe dish, along with the roasted cashews. Toss until evenly mixed. Drizzle with broth, stirring to combine. Cover with aluminum foil.

3. Put stuffing in bottom third of oven and cook for 15 minutes. Stir and continue baking, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

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