If you’re new to gluten free living, these tips are ones you can apply to preparing foods for yourself; however, if you aren’t gluten free and plan to host gluten free guests in your home this holiday season, you will definitely want to print this article to have on hand as you prepare.
I’ve compiled 5 of my most useful tips to help you keep the holidays merry (and safe!) for your gluten free guests (and yourself!) this year.
Happy Holidays and Happy Gluten Free Entertaining!
5 Tips for Making Gluten Free Guests Feel at Home for the Holidays
1. Chat about it.
Talk to your guests about their special diet as far in advance of their visit as possible.
If you’re hosting out of town friends or family who are gluten free, you’ll need to think beyond a single meal.
Take into consideration points like:
- The length of their stay
- Their personal food preferences
- All dietary restrictions – remember, many individuals with Celiac disease or another gluten-related health issue have additional food allergies/intolerances.
- Whether or not they are comfortable dining out
Once you learn a bit more about your guests’ dietary needs, it’s time to plan.
- Planning menus in advance for the main meal of the day, usually dinner
- What you will serve for smaller meals like breakfast and lunch as well as what snacks you plan to have on hand
- If you plan to dine out with your guests, which restaurants in your area can accommodate their special diet
3. Menu planning.
When it comes to feeding a “mixed group” – gluten free and non-gluten free individuals – simple usually works best, especially for the host.
When planning your meals, keep in mind all the nutritious, naturally gluten free foods that exist.
For ideas, check out my “No Thought Required” list of gluten free foods.
4. Shop smart.
Before your guests arrive, a shopping trip is in order.
To keep it affordable, stick with mainstream gluten free foods, like those listed in my “No Thought Required” food list.
For foods like crackers, cookies and breads there are several brands available for purchase, although they are typically quite expensive.
Because someone’s health is at risk, it is best to be sure prepackaged foods you purchase are “certified gluten free”. This will be clearly noted on the food label.
You can learn more about gluten free certification in my article, “Gluten Free Certification…Three Ways“.
5. Kitchen cleanup.
While your kitchen may be in tip-top shape, if it is not a dedicated gluten free kitchen, there is a good chance it’s in need of some cleaning before you begin preparing food for your guests.
That’s because the risk of cross-contamination is serious for individuals on a gluten free diet. Even a small particle of gluten-containing food can cause health problems for an individual with Celiac disease or other gluten-related illness.
While these are not all of them, here are several tips to help you keep meals safe and gluten free when cooking in a non-gluten free kitchen:
- Before you begin preparing any food (even cutting up fresh fruit or veggies for a snack), be sure to wipe all counter tops, faucets, appliances (especially handles), etc. to remove any traces of gluten. Gluten can hide in even the smallest cracks and crevices.
- Wash all dishes, baking pans, glasses and utensils you plan to use to prepare and serve your gluten free meal. The dishwasher is a great idea for this, although washing in hot soapy water is also fine.
- Be sure to consider small kitchen appliances like the food processor, blender and immersion blender, too.
- Keep in mind utensils like wooden spoons and other items made of wood (like serving bowls and cutting boards) can harbor unseen gluten. Also, beware of using porous baking vessels (like those made of cast iron or clay), as they may also harbor gluten particles.
- If you plan to serve gluten-containing foods as well as gluten free foods, always try to sanitize the kitchen, appliances and cookware, then prepare the gluten free foods first. Once prepared, store the gluten free foods, then work on the dishes that contain gluten ingredients. Be sure to keep gluten free dishes separate from gluten-containing foods at all times.
- Never use the same serving utensils for gluten free and gluten-filled foods.
- Toasters used for toasting gluten-containing breads are NOT suitable for toasting gluten free breads.
Always remember, there is no need to be nervous or fearful when hosting gluten free guests. The key is to be diligent in your communication, planning, preparation and serving.
Of course, if at any time you are in doubt about whether or not a food is 100% gluten free, never serve it to your guests. Their health is at stake, and no food is worth what a person with Celiac disease goes through when they consume gluten.
Finally, keep in mind the following places sneaky gluten can hide:
- Condiments – while ketchup, mustard, hot sauce and mayonnaise are usually gluten free, dips, sauces and salad dressings often contain gluten.
- Soy sauce
- Bulk bin foods like dry beans, grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are likely to be cross-contaminated with gluten, so avoid these when preparing gluten free dishes.
- Coffee, tea and hot cocoa – there are acceptable brands that are gluten free; however, some brands may be cross-contaminated during production. Flavored coffees contain artificial and natural flavorings that may contain gluten. Read this article for more information on coffee and gluten.
I hope this information will be useful to you as you prepare your holiday festivities.
Happy Gluten Free Holidays!
For more information on living the best gluten free life possible, be sure to sign up for my Daily Gluten Free Fix eLetter.