Gluten-Free Holiday Entertaining Made Easy!

The holidays can be a busy, stressful time, and if you find out that you’re entertaining someone with a gluten allergy or intolerance, things can become even more stressful. I’d like to share some ways to make holiday entertaining easy for everyone. 

First and foremost: do not panic! Many foods are naturally gluten-free. Most Celiacs are reasonable people who just want to be included in the meal like everyone else.

Next, talk to the person with the condition and find out what their requirements and preferences are. If they have Celiac disease, then you need to be much more careful than if the person is trying to avoid gluten to lose weight. (Case in point: A friend of mine carefully prepared a multi-course gluten-free holiday meal for a fellow on a gluten-free diet. When it came to dessert, however, he chose the gluten-containing pie! Turns out he wasn’t on a strict gluten-free diet, but was just trying to avoid carbs. Oops!)

You may also want to do some reading. The Canadian Celiac Association and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness are both great resources that can help you get familiar with Celiac disease.

The person with the gluten allergy or intolerance can probably help you with recipes and ingredients, too. I’ve even had people e-mail me pictures of labels from the grocery store to confirm whether or not an ingredient is OK!

Try to have something gluten-free for each course, even if it’s something small. (Greek yogurt and fresh fruit is a delicious, easy gluten-free dessert!) Don’t feel compelled to make everything from scratch, either: many grocery stores carry plenty of gluten-free items and prepackaged goods. (If you can’t find anything at your grocery store, try your local health food store.)

If other people are bringing dishes, advise them of the situation and ask them to bring an ingredient list with their dish. You may even want to ask the person with Celiac disease to bring any dishes that you’re having trouble with.

And last but not least, here are our top four tips for the meal itself!

  1. Purchase a new package of butter and any other condiments you plan to use. Use them in any recipes and place them at the table for the gluten-free person.
  2. If you are cooking a  turkey, cook the stuffing separately.
  3. Make gravy with cornstarch or rice flour instead of wheat flour.
  4. Relax and enjoy! Remember, the holidays are about family, friends, and good times!
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