A Celiac is Coming to Dinner…Yikes!
Did you invite someone over to dinner before realizing they have celiac? Woops!
Are you terrified by the thought of cooking for someone with a gluten allergy?
Do you avoid having someone over to dinner because they have celiac and you’re not sure how to cook for them?
Don’t worry! You can do it and it’s not too hard!
Here are some tips to help you if you’re cooking for someone with celiac or a gluten allergy:
- Ask questions: If you have any questions or confusion, don’t be embarrassed to ask. Your guest would rather you go ahead and lay it out there than wait until the dinner and realize that he or she can’t eat what you’ve made.
- Learn about gluten: What the heck is gluten anyway? It’s a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It isn’t carbs. Potatoes, eggs, cheese, and corn are all gluten-free. Risotto, rice and quinoa are gluten-free too. White flour does have gluten, even though it doesn’t specify ‘wheat’ in the name.
- Clean up your kitchen: Make sure that cutting boards, pans, knives, etc. are really clean. This doesn’t mean you need to disinfect your whole house and throw away every bit of gluten in your pantry, but just make sure your utensils are clean, and won’t potentially contaminate your dinner guest. Also, avoid using foods in your pantry that might be contaminated with gluten, such as peanut butter or mayonnaise, from dipping the knife into the container after it has touched bread.
- Hidden glutens: Gluten can be tricky…some brands of chicken broth have gluten (I stick with Pacific brand that states it’s gluten-free.) Other items with hidden glutens include soy sauce (some brands are gf but most contain wheat), some sausages, oats (unless certified gluten-free), some salad dressings, and even some spices that add wheat (all McCormick spices are gf).
- Read Labels: Ingredient labels can be really helpful, especially when they clearly state gluten-free. Companies that label items gluten-free make it so much easier and simpler. (Maple Grove Farms of Vermont labels all GF salad dressings GF so I always buy their dressing.) I tend to avoid labels that list 50 ingredients, with words that I can’t pronounce. “Modified Food Starch” is another potential gluten disaster. If the label specifies ‘potato starch,’ then it’s fine.
- Keep it simple: You don’t need to create a gluten-free lasagna or bake brownies from scratch. Meat and vegetables are naturally gluten-free and delicious. Olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and garlic are all gluten free. Grilling can be a yummy and simple gluten-free option. (Just make sure you clean off your grill, so there’s no contamination.) Check out Gluten Freedom’s recipes for some simple and easy meal options. And for dessert, there’s always Breyer’s or Edy’s ice cream (just no cookie dough or cookies ‘n cream.)
- Enlist your guest: Your dinner guest would love to bring something to add to the meal. Take advantage of this for a side dish or dessert. We gluten-free eaters are so thankful to be included in a dinner party or food-oriented get together that we want to contribute and make it easier on you.
On behalf of all of us that have special food needs, thank you for hosting us in your home! We know it’s not easy and we’re thankful for friends and family who happily invite us over. If you’re really not into cooking, you can always ask us if there’s a restaurant that would be tasty and gluten-free. We’re happy to offer ideas and don’t want food to get in the way of spending time with people we love.
What questions do you have about entertaining someone who is gluten-free? Looking for any recipe ideas?