You’ve just invited company and now you find out they have to have a gluten-free diet. Now you
are having second thoughts. What will you fix? Maybe you wish you hadn’t even invited them.
But consider this. People who need a gluten-free diet (celiacs) are often very nice people who don’t get invited out much. They will especially appreciate the extra effort you take to prepare the meal. They didn’t ask to have this problem and they don’t have any choice about it. They can live absolutely normal lives when they figure out how to handle their diet. Their biggest problem is eating out or eating with people who aren’t used to cooking gluten-free.
A gluten-free diet means no wheat, rice, barley. Usually no oats either. Check to see if there are other foods they need to avoid.
You can always have plain meat and vegetables, rice and potatoes. It’s the seasonings and sauces that can get them into trouble. Vegetable salads are fine, but check the labels on the dressings. You can also use many other ingredients if you learn how to read labels. Here are some things to consider in label-reading:
–You can be sure it’s gluten-free if it says gluten-free. For a very sensitive celiac you are better to stick with labels that declare themselves gluten-free. Some labels will say, “manufactured on equipment that also processes gluten.” That disclaimer protects the company. Very sensitive celiacs will avoid anything with labels like these, but many celiacs can get by with them.
–In the US it has to declare wheat if it has wheat in it. The exception is meat with marinades or vitamins. Those items don’t have to declare wheat so watch out for them. In the US they do not have to declare barley or rye. Malt comes from barley. Malt vinegar is not OK. Other vinegars are. Isomalt, however, is OK.
–Most soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and bouillon cubes have gluten. If wheat is not in the ingredients some celiacs can eat these. Very sensitive celiacs will only use them if they say gluten-free.
–Some baking powder and cornstarch has wheat added. If the ingredients don’t list wheat, it’s fine.
–Old El Paso taco seasoning is gluten-free and works to season many things. Old El Paso and Ortega will list gluten if it is included.
–The best flour is often a mix of several flours. The mix I use in New Zealand is rice and soy, but many gluten-free flours are now available in the US.
–If your other ingredients are gluten-free, a Celiac can have gravy if you thicken it with cornstarch or arrowroot.
–Many flour sort of recipes list xanthan gum or guar gum as an ingredient. This gives a bit more body to the dish, but if you’re not using it regularly, don’t go out and buy a bottle. Just leave it out.
This is one daughter’s favourite link for making a meal for a Celiac: http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/socializingwithoutgluten/a/GuestPrep.htm
This link gives guidelines on companies that go above and beyond regulations to make their labels easy for Celiacs to read. My daughter carries a company-name list in her purse to help with shopping:
For more on meat labels see: