Monday, October 19, 2015

Host a Gluten Free Person Safely

It's the season of entertainment.
Of Homecoming parties and Football tailgates.
Of Halloween potlucks before trick or treating and Harvest Festivals.
Many people love to entertain, and even more love to be invited.
Freshmen Homecoming Dinner from

But what to do when your guest tells you that they need to follow a gluten-free diet?

How do you host a gluten free person safely?
Tailgating Most likely the easiest way is to simply ASK the guest what is safe once you've decided on your menu. Unless the guest has other allergies, they can eat all vegetables, meats, potatoes rice and polenta without any problems. So giving your gluten-free guest the head's up, allows them to talk about their concerns.  You might need to hold the sauce on a piece of meat, and of course, leave off the croutons on a salad, but frequently that is the most you will have to do unless you are breading the meat or fish.

So many foods are naturally gluten-free that there is no reason to be scared of feeding your guests. 

And believe me, they will appreciate your asking.

Keeping them gluten-free in all situations. 

If it is going to be a potluck buffet:

Set up one area for all gluten-free items, with separate serving spoons and tongs, preferably on a separate table.
Same for the desserts, keep them separate and keep the serving silverware separate.
The biggest problem is that someone grabs a gluten free spoon and dips into the gluten full pasta salad, and returns it to the original, cross contaminating the entire dish. 

What is cross contamination?  Glad you asked. Cross contamination is when a gluten free food gets more than 20 parts per million of gluten in the food.  That is an extraordinarily small amount, just crumbs in a big bowl of salad.
That is why separation of gluten free and gluten full is essential.

For drinks: I gather all the drinks into one area (cooler) as long as they have their own labels, like wine, coolers, kombuchas and beer.   If I'm making cocktails or punch, I put a tables tent sign up with all the ingredients.

If you sign up for my mailing list, you will be gifted the template for my table tents. 

For Coffee service: I put 1/2 & 1/2 and milk in labeled pitchers.  If I want to add any other creamers or flavorings to the assortment, I leave them in their original containers. Perhaps not as pretty as decanting to a cruet, but for the food allergic, being able to read the ingredients is key.

This situation brings concern to the brining and sauces.
Spices in the sauces can contain gluten and make your guest ill.  Whenever I know that the plan is BBQ, I bring my own and a sheet of foil to prevent cross contamination on the actual grill.
Vegetable Kabobs are a lovely way to be inclusive, brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Make sure any hotdogs/sausages/burger patties are labeled gluten-free. 


Sit Down Dinners:

If they are concerned that they will be creating too much work, they might offer to bring their own.
Unless that is a true hardship, let them.  

After all, the food at a party isn't the only reason you've invited them to your home. You want to be enjoying their company, and being sure that they won't get ill. 

Some ideas:
 Protein: Grilled Salmon/Shrimp,  Roast Pork, Roast Beef, Eggs in all forms, Beans
Vegetables: Polenta, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes,
Grains: Quinoa, Rice of all sorts
Desserts: Ice creams and sorbets, fruit, cheese, nuts are all safe.  If you truly want a baked dessert, consider ordering from a dedicated gluten free bakery.

Things to beware: Conventional soy sauce has wheat, so please grab wheat free tamari 

Some spice mixes contain gluten as well, especially Chili powder and taco seasoning.

I love these organic spices and they are all gluten free

Most important of all, is to eliminate flour, bread and crumbs from your cooking area.
Barrier methods work well for cross contamination. Cover your counter with plastic or parchment paper, use foil to separate their meal from others containing gluten.

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