The Best Gluten-free Stuffing!

So last week I shared my journey going gluten-free and how I live on a daily basis not eating any gluten.  You may be thinking if you read my post, how would I handle a holiday going gluten-free?!? 
For years, many of my family members most likely remember me sleeping on the couch after Thanksgiving or Easter. No, this wasn’t so I could avoid cleaning up the dishes… my energy levels had merely shut down and all I could do was rest!  No amount of caffeine could change that! My stomach was in a lot of pain and my head was foggy! Given the countless reasons I went gluten-free, it is not worth me giving-in and eating foods with gluten on any holiday. Two years ago, on Thanksgiving, I tried to limit my gluten (extremely hard if you are eating traditional Thanksgiving foods lol) partly because at that time I was just doing my research on it and it wasn’t till January that I cut-out gluten completely. So last year was really my first gluten-free Thanksgiving, where I started bringing my own gluten-free dishes! 
As I briefly go through the meal that my family has, I know turkey, cranberry sauce, glazed carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes all do NOT contain gluten … at least at my family’s Thanksgiving. I know I can eat all of those things without any issues.  While I love veggies, I enjoy stuffing and cornbread even more! After all, it is Thanksgiving! Regularly, I try to keep a clean diet but on holidays such as Thanksgiving, I allow myself to indulge moderately as long as they have no gluten!
 gluten-free stuffing
With all that said, this year I am bringing gluten-free stuffing and gluten-free cornbread to the table ;). I am sharing my newest sausage stuffing recipe on the blog today! If you are looking for a gluten-free stuffing, this is one not to miss!! I shared it with my family over the weekend just to get their feedback even though none of them follow the GF diet, and the response was so positive they said they didn’t need any other stuffing on Thanksgiving day!! I took this as a big compliment from my Italian father!  This stuffing is not just your traditional plain stuffing. It also has sausage, cranberries, and pignolis which add a ton of flavor!  Let me know your thoughts if you try it! 🙂 
gluten-free stuffing
The BEST Gluten-free Stuffing
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  1. 1 box Trader Joe's Gluten Free Stuffing Mix
  2. 1 1/2 lbs. Italian pork sausage (I like 1 lb. sweet and 1/2 lb. spicy.) You can substitute chicken or turkey Italian style but I find the pork is tastier for the holidays.
  3. 2 tsp olive oil
  4. 1 stick butter
  5. 1 C celery, chopped
  6. 1 C yellow onion, chopped
  7. 3/4 C dried cranberries
  8. 1/3 C pine nuts
  9. 1 medium Granny Smith Apple (peeled and chopped)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a saucepan put pine nuts and toast over medium heat, no oil is needed. Watch they burn fast so stir constantly :(. Remove the nuts from skillet and set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan add 1 1/2 C water and the cranberries. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet add the 2 tsp olive oil and heat. Remove casing from sausage, break up into pieces and add to skillet. Cook completely but DO NOT OVERCOOK. Add cranberries and pine nuts and cook for 2 minutes. Pour into greased 13 x 9 casserole dish.
  5. In a separate skillet add onion, celery and 2 Tbs butter. Cook to soften celery and onions for 4 minutes. Add apples and continue to cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside.
  6. Next, empty the bread stuffing into bowl and set aside. In a medium sauce pan put 3 cups of water, 5 Tbs of butter and the seasoning pouch and bring to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until butter is completely melted. Remove from heat, pour liquid over bread stuffing. Add celery, onion and apple mixture and gently fold until all are moistened. Empty ingredients into casserole on top of sausage, and mix gently. Do not overmix. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. Put in oven for 35 minutes covered. Take out, uncover and put in for 5 minutes longer to toast. This will be moist and delicious! If you like your stuffing VERY, VERY moist, add a little more water with the butter, up to 1/2 cup, no more. I happen to like it with 3 cups of water.
Alyssa Grieco
Enjoy!! xo

My Journey Going Gluten-Free

So many people have asked me in the past why I went gluten-free.  I think there is a lot of confusion behind it because some think it is another fad diet that happens to be “in” at the moment and others think it MUST be too hard to do because our world is consumed by gluten today!  I wanted to share on the blog why I went gluten-free and the benefits I have found that totally changed my life! I am beyond thankful I found out a solution that would help me in my mid-twenties, but also wish I found it earlier… all those years I was struggling!
I grew up in a Italian household where fresh Italian bread was a daily staple and if it didn’t happen during the week, I could count on Sunday’s for an Italian feast with the family…. Bread pudding for dessert if it was a special Sunday! 😉 That was my norm. I never thought anything of it aside from the fact that that is where I developed my love for cooking and well… eating! Not to mention that while sitting around the dinner table was what I grew up with, now I look back and think, what a gift that was!
My whole life I have been extremely active. From a very early age I would go to school then straight to riding horses, then homework following. Literally, every day I would be so busy I never really experienced relaxing! While I was always extremely tired, it seemed to make sense as I was always so busy. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with unexplained iron-deficiency anemia. My iron would drop so low that I was hospitalized for periods of time until I was able to get the levels up. For years after that, I battled the iron-deficiency and also just extremely lethargy that stemmed from that. I remember telling my mom I used to have a “foggy brain” for lack of a better term, because I always felt like I was trying to think and literally couldn’t, which I was told by doctors was due to the iron-deficiency.  I also had abdominal distension that literally would occur whenever I would eat foods with gluten in it.  This was always crazy to me! Because I was always ill, health and nutrition became a passion of mine as I continuously searched for answers and would try to eat as many iron-enriched foods as possible.  I thought that maybe changing my eating habits would help the way I felt. Unfortunately, it did not but my passion for learning about nutrition did grow. Countless doctors over the years could not explain my anemia, so I just continued taking iron pills and went on with my life still very ill. I am a very tough person, so I never let this control my life.  I would continuously push through to my goals. 
When I was 24, I happened to be doing some sort of research and learned there was a correlation between iron-deficiency anemia and Celiac Disease. The common symptoms that accompany Celiac Disease are often mistaken for other ailments. A whopping 97% of people who have Celiac go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed!  Some of the other symptoms are: bone and joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, seizures or migraines, canker sores inside the mouth, abdominal pain and discomfort, skin rashes and many other things!  A comprehensive list can be found at
The more I looked into this, I realized maybe going gluten-free could help me.  When I was 18 and in a doctors office, I was tested for Celiac but was told I did not have it so I quickly ruled it out.  In my research I found that the blood test is not accurate for everyone who has Celiac! At the time, when I got those blood test results, I literally was like “Woohoo!! What is a life without bread!”. Back then gluten-free was a drastic measure and there were barely any options for those who were on the diet, so finding out I did not have to follow it (so I thought) made me the happiest girl in the world!
At this point in time I was so ill I thought I had narcolepsy because I was so tired all the time. I would literally fall asleep anytime I sat down. The iron deficiency was under control at the time due to the many iron pills I was taking, but still I did not feel energized. I felt like there was no life to me!
I am not sure what sparked this, and I can only say this is a total answer to prayer, but I woke up one day at my wits end to feeling so badly that I decided I was going to try going gluten-free to see if it would make any change in the way I felt. Keep in mind that although I ate extremely healthy, a typical day for me at the time consisted of oatmeal for breakfast, a turkey breast sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread for lunch, and  probably a turkey burger on a whole wheat bun for dinner. Obviously snacks throughout the day but all of those things contain GLUTEN! So although it was pretty healthy, I was deathly ill eating this way. So anyway, that one day I decided to try the gluten-free lifestyle and see if anything changed.
Well I will tell you it definitely wasn’t instant.. I think it took weeks for the gluten I was consuming to fully get out of my system.  It was also hard at first because items I thought would of never had gluten in them (like soy sauce) I was consuming regularly, so I did not experience the effects of the gluten-free diet until I got the diet in order but when I did, it was completely life changing.  I have always been a morning person and when I tell you I would wake up with full energy I cannot even explain the feeling. I was a totally different person. The fog in my brain that I lived with for so long actually left. The extreme lethargy went away. I felt like I finally had my life back!
So… What do I do now? Going gluten-free was actually pretty easy for me because I was always very conscious of what I ate. I changed the items I ate that had gluten in them to gluten-free items and created a process for myself that works and is so easy! I no longer find myself longing to eat a piece of cake at a family party because I simply come prepared. I know what I can and can’t eat and it is now my lifestyle! 🙂
Besides loving health, I hope to provide recipes for people that find themselves isolated by their gluten-free dietary needs! Each day living gluten-free (sickness free) is a blessing! 😉