Showing Hospitaility to a Gluten Free Guest

Herbed Baked Eggs and roasted potatoes are an easy and delicious gluten free meal

Are you familiar with Celiac Disease? If you have Celiac Disease, your body treats gluten like a toxin and fights against it, unfortunately damaging your digestive tract in the process. Those who have it, must strictly abstain from gluten. Even a small amount, hidden in a product, could cause a lot of discomfort!

Since Celiac disease is becoming more and more prevalent, I feel that being able to cook gluten free (and I mean really gluten free) food important if we want to show hospitality to others. I was on a gluten free diet for several months myself, so I felt like I knew most of the basics. But since I don’t seem to have any reactions to gluten, I knew that I was still probably missing a lot of hidden gluten in my kitchen, which I would not want to serve to a Celiac guest.

Enter Michele. I asked Michele from Frugal Granola, who has more recently discovered that she too reacts to gluten, to share a basic post about serving gluten free food to those suffering from this intolerance. If you have been following the carnivals that I have been hosting, you may have noticed Michele because she always has wonderful contributions. Check out her post for the Nourishing Portable Food carnival, and you we will see what I mean.

I appreciate her guest post so much because I was right! I was missing “hidden” gluten in my kitchen. Her post will help you be a thorough, and inviting host(ess) for any gluten free friends you may have. Thank you, Michele, for sharing with us! It is much appreciated!

Showing Hospitality to a Gluten Free Guest

Upon learning of my celiac diagnosis, I have been amused by the varied responses from others, ranging from the “paranoia” of some, saying “Oh, you can’t eat anything!” up to the encouragement of others, carefully planning gluten-free tea-time snacks to share with me.

Many friends and family members have inquired about my transition to gluten-free eating. I have discovered, to my surprise, that changing my meals has gone rather smoothly. (So, if you are recently entering gluten-free living, let me encourage you: it can be done, and taste delicious!)
Many of your dishes are probably “naturally” gluten free, like this Savory Carrot Salad

I know the initial thought of preparing a gluten-free meal can be intimidating to one unaccustomed to such a diet. And yet, your desire for hospitality has inspired a dinner invitation to a gluten-free family member or friend! So, what do you do when preparing a meal for a gluten-free guest? (And Thanksgiving is just around the corner, too!)

Vegetables always make an easy and familiar gluten free dish, like Garliky Green/Yellow Beans

Rest easy. Thankfully, most foods are naturally gluten-free! If you avoid packaged foods, you’ve already accomplished the biggest step in the entire process. Stick to the outside of the store, and you will have the most success. (It is the same recommendation in shopping for healthy, natural foods, anyway!)

Here are some quick hints:

I think one of the most overlooked issues is cookware. It’s easy to focus so much on the food, that the utensils get forgotten. Go for the stainless steel or glass! Just for tonight, avoid the wooden spoons, treasured stoneware or cast iron pans, etc. These can harbor gluten molecules, and “contaminate” any dish you may be preparing with it (thus rendering it no longer gluten-free).

Cutting boards are another sneaky gluten-trap (see all those knife marks in your board?). I have not been able to purchase new cutting boards yet, so I do all my chopping on a plate. My fruit and vegetable slicing is easily done on a large dinner plate. If necessary, baked meats can be conveniently cut while still in their glass baking dish.

Remember to keep a close eye on the condiments. I keep separate butter, mayonnaise, jam, and peanut butter containers marked “Gluten-Free” in our refrigerator. That way, everyone else can spread sandwiches to their liking, without scattering crumbs into my condiments. If you know your condiments have been used for gluten-containing foods, please do not prepare “gluten-free” foods with them! (However, condiments that do not require a knife, such as a squeeze bottle of grain-free dijon mustard or a drizzle of olive oil are typically safe.)

So, now we can move on to the food:

My “list of all lists” that I have consulted many times is Celiac.com’s Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List . When looking at a label, you can scan this list if you are in doubt about any particular ingredient.

Read the fine print. Most labels now will have notes such as “Prepared in a facility that also processes wheat, dairy, tree nuts…” (whatever is appropriate for the situation). Avoid anything that mentions wheat!

Legumes are a nice gluten free ingredient to use, just make sure you don’t get them from the bulk bins!

For the most part, I have had to avoid bulk bins (sadly, as they are much cheaper than packaged items), if there is risk of mixing with gluten-containing items close by. Many flours are ground on the same mill as wheat, so I have to be especially careful which company I purchase my flour from. I have had the best results in purchasing from “Bob’s Red Mill“. They process some (but not all!) of their gluten-free grains on a separate mill. Their packages are also wonderfully-labeled with gluten-free information.

However, there can be a steep “learning curve,” as you begin preparing gluten-free dough. If you are just preparing a meal for a guest, I recommend steering clear of baking bread!
Grilled Veggie Salad -who said gluten free means boring?

Simple meals of veggies, rice, and chicken, a lentil stew, or a baked potato/yam bar can be familiar (and gluten-free!) dinners. A brunch with omelets/scrambled eggs and fruit salad can be sufficiently filling. (Please note, if you are preparing a stir-fry or other Asian-inspired dish, make sure to get wheat-free tamari/soy sauce!)

Chocolate Pudding is a delicious gluten free dessert, just leave out the vanilla unless you have the right type-read about that below.

For a manageable, gluten-free dessert, a fruit or pudding dish is often welcome. Just leave off the crust of your favorite pie recipe, and prepare the filling as usual (or in small ramekin dishes). Top with freshly-whipped cream for a decadent treat! Beware of ice creams, as many have gluten-containing fillers or mix-ins. (KH Notes: You could also make your own ice cream, if you have a ice cream maker. We love my chocolate coconut milk ice cream)

Flourless Nut butter cookies make crunchy, gluten free cookies (just leave out that vanilla!)

One caveat to note with the desserts: flavorings. I purchase “alcohol-free” vanilla or almond flavorings, since many alcohols are grain-based. (Not everyone who eats gluten-free may require this step, but I personally have had a reaction to the conventional flavorings.) “Frontier” has a good selection, and their products are often found in “natural baking” aisles in grocery stores. If you are not able to obtain alcohol-free flavorings, cinnamon or chocolate are usually welcome additions!

If you’re still overwhelmed by preparing a gluten-free meal, start small. Invite your friend over for an informal afternoon/evening get-together, with some easy finger foods on hand:

Stove- or Air-popped popcorn can be a fun snack for evening guests, or put out a platter of your favorite selections from the farmer’s market. “Food For Life” makes good sprouted corn tortillas, which can be used fresh or baked into “chips”. They are delicious when served with cheese, salsa, or hummus. A cheese tray (but avoid blue cheese!) with some fruit is one of my favorite meals.

Another simple gluten free main dish is Crockpot Quinoa Stew

I have found that I really don’t miss most gluten-containing items, as I have discovered so many wonderful foods that are naturally gluten-free. Focus on real, nourishing food, and your choices will be abundant! I post my meal plans for the week every Sunday night on my blog Frugal Granola. If you are stumped with your menu preparations, feel free to stop by for ideas. Enjoy your meal!

This post is part of Kitchen Tip Tuesday

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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Comments

  1. Sherry says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I Have a couple of friends that have this, and I had no idea what to make for them. This really will help me when I have them over or to make some treats!

    have a great day!
    Sherry

  2. The FD says

    Wonderfully informative! With celiac disease, food allergies, and other conditions requiring a strict dietary plan it is so important that we feel comfortable and confident in serving our guests. Great Post!
    ~The Fat Dietitian~

  3. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness says

    What a great guest post! Even though I’m allergic to gluten, my allergy is pretty mild, so I don’t have to jumpt through a lot of the hoops others do. I don’t have to worry about cutting board, wooden utensils, and condiment jars, for example. This will be a great resource for me when hosting guests who are *highly* allergic.

  4. Heather says

    As a celiac, I am always thankful when i see other people willing to help us out by educating themselves about this particular condition. Thanks, Kimi, for this post. It’s good stuff.

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