The summer months are fast approaching, and the weather is starting to get warmer; many of us will be hosting BBQ's, dinners al fresco with family and friends--and if you are like my group of friends, we like cooking parties. As a host, your job is to make sure all of your guest are comfortably happy. Sure, Not everyone will have the same tastes; and certainly we can offer different options to each of them.
What can you do when a guest is gluten intolerant?
If you have a gluten-free guest, or any other dietary restriction for that matter, it is crucial to close pay attention to the products that are going to serve; but also to the way in which they were prepared. Do not panic! With the proper preparation, all will enjoy the party.
Here are some of my tips :
- Do your homework. Do not be afraid to ask questions – ask about ALL of their restrictions. Do not guess and do not ignore. If you have doubts it is best to ask your gluten-free guest, or if it is a child, their parents, to guide you on gluten-free options.
- Ask what they can eat. Just as necessary as the gluten things they cannot eat, ask about all of the foods your guest is able to eat. Sometimes this can help open your eyes to all of the possibilities rather on focusing on the restrictions.
- Ask specifically for recommendations or gluten-free recipes. Ask about gluten-free dishes that you could make that would be safe for your guest, enjoyed by all and easy for you to make.
- Know what contains gluten. It is not just baked goods like breads, cookies and pasta that contain gluten. There are many other items that contain gluten or traces and can affect your gluten-free guest, like sauces and dressings. Many are shocked to find out that Soy Sauce contains wheat. Here is a good list of gluten-free items from Gluten Free Today. Many grocery stores offer a list of gluten-free items or have a gluten-free section.
- Nor is it necessary to remove the bread and crackers. You can purchase gluten-free bread and gluten-free crackers. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, bakeries like Zest Bakery and Mariposa Bakery offer an amazing selection of gluten-free baked goods.
- Menu selection. Decide a menu that is easy and delightful for all of your guests. There are so many foods that are naturally gluten-free, vegan, etc. Focus on those.
- Be mindful of cross-contamination and watch for hidden ingredients. It is essential to prevent contamination of food in their preparation. During preparation and handling of foods, the counter or table where one cooks should be clean and clear of gluten foods. Same with knives, cutlery or tools uses, to make sure not that nothing is accidentally cross contaminated with gluten. You might want to prepare the gluten-free foods first, before handling gluten filled foods.
- Gluten-free desserts are available too. If there are children, because sometimes treats contain gluten, there are also gluten-free goodies at the market. Places like Whole Foods and natural health food stores carry a wide selection to select from.
- Gluten-free beer. And of course, for the adults, one can also get gluten-free beers like the Alchemist Celia Saison or Harvester IPA and Pale Ale. Wine and champagne is also naturally gluten-free.
- Do not try to guilt your guest into “just eat this or that”. If they are not interested in your gluten-free bread sticks with your gluten-free cheese dip, even though it is gluten-free, it is O.K. (Don't be pushy with it! It will make your guest feel uncomfortable.)
The best advice is to always ask your gluten-free guest any and all questions that you have, so you can be educated on their diet limitations and provide for them, as best possible.