As the festive season runs into full swing it’s time to think about food options. Entertaining family and friends may require that you offer gluten free choices. For some this can seem daunting but it needn’t be. A little planning and you’ll be on your way to creating the perfect Christmas dinner.
Over the past decade there has been an explosion in the number of gluten free food options. Allergy free recipes have also increased, offering many creative ways to make dishes that taste as good as the original wheat version.
Armed with a wide range of gluten free food products and recipes, you’ll be able to offer a sumptuous range of dishes for your family, friends and guests. To give you an extra helping hand, we’ve compiled a few tips for gluten free entertaining this festive season.
1. Ask questions in advance
It’s important to understand if your guests are coeliac or gluten intolerant. If they’re coeliac then you need to understand that even a few crumbs from wheat-containing festive treats could be disastrous. High levels of care will be required.
If your guests are gluten sensitive then you should still provide gluten free food options. However, cross contamination issues won’t be quite such a concern.
2. Focus on the ingredients
Gluten free doesn’t mean the food isn’t as good. There are a huge number of dishes you can create that taste amazing – without the gluten. Focus on offering the best possible in-season fruit, vegetables and meats. There are plenty of festive sweet treats that taste just as good as the wheat version. As an example, check out these fun festive snacks that are so easy to make, even the kids will have no trouble making them.
3. Use trustworthy gluten free brands
Choose brands that specialise in gluten free food or companies that have a reputation for making quality foods.
Note: By choosing products that display the Coeliac Endorsed seal on their packaging, you can relax knowing you’re buying food that’s safe.
Here’s an example of how to make a gluten free Christmas cake.
4. Consider outsourcing
Short on time this year? Maybe you’re not comfortable creating some of the dishes that are gluten free? That doesn’t need to be a problem. Whether it’s a plum pudding, crumbed meats, fresh bread or Christmas biscuits: there’s bound to be a local manufacturer who can make them for you.
5. Ask for contributions
It’s okay to ask for help. Organise some or all of your guests to bring a plate – that way your coeliac guest/s can bring their favorite dish and it lightens your load.
Drop a hint that you’d love someone to make this gingerbread house. The kids (and adults) will love it!
Now that the foods taken care of, you can get to work planning those cocktails!
6. Read labels carefully
Labels aren’t always as clear as they should be. Thankfully food manufacturers must state on the label if there are any allergens, including gluten. You may be surprised at the number of products that actually contain gluten so check everything!
7. Be wary of cross contamination
Don’t use the same workspace for preparing all the food (unless you’re all on a gluten free diet). Start by preparing your gluten free dishes then follow with the rest of the food. Remember, even small amounts of gluten can cause health issues for a coeliac.
Hosting a dinner party during the festive season is a lot of fun, but also considerable work. If you’re cooking for one or more coeliacs then you’ll probably need to make some adjustments to your usual favourites. Traditional stuffing, bread rolls, some alcohol types, festive biscuits, Christmas cake: they’ll need a few tweaks if you want everyone to be able to enjoy your food.
Happy festive season everyone and good luck with your food preparations!