So you are hosting a friend who is gluten free… take a moment and breath…it’s going to be just fine. We are going to talk through this one so you can be the most ready and enjoy your time instead of worrying!
We have family and friends over all the time. Before I met Aimee, I never really thought about what dietary restrictions people may have had. You’re going to eat my food and like it!!!
Well, after being gluten free for a year a now, I now am a better host and try my best to accommodate everyone. Before I get into the meat of my tips, if you only take one thing away from from this article, it should be to COMMUNICATE. Talk to your future guests and see what they may be allergic to. Once you start making that a normal question when hosting, it will set you up for success. Your guest will feel like you are being considerate of their needs… which you are, and you will be able to effectively prepare so you can do a heck of a lot less worrying!
So here we go… my best tips for successfully hosting your gluten free friends and family.
Like I stated earlier, this is number one for a reason. Talk to your guest. I’m assuming you are friends and talk, so just ask them “hey, do any of you have food allergies we need to plan for?” It’s as easy as that!
By opening the door with the simple question, you are instantly going to make them feel more comfortable. If I go to someone’s house and they ask me before what our food allergies might be, just knowing that when we get there there will probably be something we can eat gives us a little peace of mind.
So go ahead and ask the question, you can thank me later! 🙂
- Get specific clarification on their allergy
So what are you talking about Lenny, I just asked them and they said they are gluten free. You’re telling me there’s more?!
Yes…You need to clarify how severe the allergy might be. For example, if your guest is celiac, you need to take some precautions. Even a crumb or minor cross contamination could be an issue. On the other hand, for Aimee who has Hashimotos, we avoid cross contamination as best as possible, but it’s not going to end the evening. With someone who is celiac, even using the same spoon to stir, same butter knife, or even same toaster is a big issue. Just communicate and I’m certain they will clarify their needs
- Read food labels and know what to look for
Ok, so you are ready… You found out through amazing communication what your guest needs and you know what foods to prepare. Now you need to head to the store. You need to be on the look out when you are at the store. Companies can get very crafty with their labels. If you are buying whole foods such as meat, produce, or fish… you should be ok. No judgement here, but they are naturally gluten free.
You are on the lookout for is WHEAT, BARLEY, and RYE! They hide in a lot of things such as spices, sauces, and other packaged food.
Here is where it might get confusing….If you see the “certified” gluten free label, you are always safe. That means the facility it was produced in is safe and free of any cross contamination.
If you see “gluten free,” usually you are safe, but read through the label in detail. I have seen a “gluten free” product and then somewhere else on the box it says “packaged in a facility with wheat.” That would open you up to cross contamination.
The next category of foods are things that you think should be gluten free, such as a bag of cheese, but there is no labeling. First look at the ingredients list for our three enemies… wheat, barley, or rye. Then look for words such as “barley malt.” Yep, that’s bad too… next look for “natural flavor” or “added spices” on the list. Gluten loves to hide in those! That shifty little punk! That is a way for companies to get around the loop holes.
If you still think it’s ok, then maybe shoot your guest a text with a picture or call them and confirm it would be good to go. Don’t do it for everything… don’t want to be annoying, but if there are a few items you just might not be sure about, go ahead and give them a ring. They will appreciate it, trust me!
- Look at your sauces and spices in your house
So you went shopping, got everything you need for your dishes and you’re ready to go! Before you start, get all your ingredients together such as spices you might be adding and look them over. Some BBQ sauces or spices like to have gluten in them.
On second thought, look at all these BEFORE you go to the store. That way if you need to get some different BBQ sauce or some other dressing, you can be sure it’s gluten free and avoid going back to the store.
- Dedicate prep space, utensils, and cookware to being gluten free
Now you are ready to start cooking! When you are preparing your gluten free dishes, do it in an area of the counter away from your other food. Don’t use the same knives, spoons, or spatulas for all your food. For example, don’t use the knife you cut bread with to then go cut veggies or meat for the gluten free dish.
If you are using a pan, use a dedicated pan for the gluten free food. Don’t cook your gluten filled food in the pan and then turn around and cook the gluten free free food in the same pan. That would be cross contamination my friend!
Toasters… just avoid them. Maybe the allergy isn’t that severe, you can get away with it, but a celiac will not be a fan!
- Bonus points: get gluten free adult beverages
The food is ready, you prepped and cooked separately. Now let’s eat!… “I’m a little parched, you have anything to drink?”
Here is where you step your gluten free game up to the next level… you can offer them some wine or hard cider, which is naturally going to be gluten free, or you can go with a mixed drink made from Smirnoff, their vodka is typically labelled gluten free. Crown Royal is also a good go to… but here is one better…
The gluten free beer world is still limited, if I showed up to a friend’s house and they had Glutenberg beer on hand I’d probably cry… No really, if you have the time, just google where you can get some gluten free beer and grab a few bottles. It will be the gluten free icing on the gluten free cake!
Now one note, you will see “gluten removed/reduced” and “gluten free” beer. There is a difference. The removed/reduced such as Omission beer was brewed with gluten filled ingredients, but they use a an enzyme in the brewing process to remove it. There is still going to be some gluten in there. May not be safe for a celiac. You can’t go wrong with a true “gluten free” beer such as Glutenberg. You just need to look a little. I find mine at Total Wine!
- Top the meal with a gluten free dessert
The meal was a success, your evening is going great, your guest is partaking in some adult beverages…now it’s time for dessert!
All the same rules apply as before if you made it yourself. If you have a favorite dessert recipe, I’m almost 100% certain you can make a gluten free version. The gluten free flours out there such as King Arthur are always a good choice.
There are some other out of the box desserts such as Katz that have good frozen donuts which I’ll never say no to!
You are all set!
You got this! I believe in you! Hosting your gluten free friends and family is not hard. It just takes a little early planning and communication. It can be confusing at times, I know. Hang in there!
If you get stuck… send me a message on instagram or an email at Lenny@glutenfreedad.org. I’d be more than happy to help you navigate this challenge!
You’re a peacock… it’s time to fly! 😀