As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, one thing you can count on at every holiday party and celebration is food. While many are concerned with those extra calories, those on a gluten-free diet are challenged to find something to eat at these events.
Most celebrations have an assortment of crackers, breaded hors d’oeuvres and pastries – all of which are not included in a gluten-free diet. Even if you believe something may be gluten-free at first, such as soups, dips or sauces, there is a chance it may have a hidden source of gluten.
For example, if Campbell’s Classic Cream of Mushroom soup is used in your green bean casserole, guests on a gluten-free diet will not be able to enjoy it because wheat flour is listed in the ingredients. Instead, choose Pacific Organic Cream of Mushroom soup, which is gluten-free, and eliminate the chance of your guest feeling ill.
In recent years more options have become available for those with this allergy. It isn’t uncommon to find gluten-free crackers, soups, flours, pastas, and other alternatives at the grocery store including stores like Publix, Target, Wal-Mart and Aldi.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday party or attending as a guest, don’t let the term gluten-free hinder you this year. Here are some gluten-free tips to keep in mind this holiday season.
Hosting Holiday Parties
- You’re In Control – If you’re aware someone on your guest list is on a gluten-free diet, make a dinner everyone can enjoy or make one or two dishes gluten-free approved.
- Avoid Cross Contamination – Even the slightest exposure to gluten can cause serious health implications. Use a separate knife for the butter and a separate bowl for chips and dip.
- Gluten-Free Zone – Designate a portion of the table as a gluten-free zone. Not only will your guests be able to identify it but it also eliminates the risk of cross contamination.
- Read Labels – Wheat can be found in many products, so read the labels carefully. Wheat is also knows as: whole grain, barley, durum, semolina, hydrolyzed wheat protein, organic flour, malt, matzo, bran, seitan and multigrain. Gluten-free approved ingredients include: soba, rice, pure oats, buckwheat, dextrin, arrowroot, sorghum and tapioca, to name a few.
Attending Holiday Parties
- Communicate – Be sure to let the host know your allergy beforehand. Be clear and concise. Most hosts will be glad to know and be willing to accommodate.
- Offer Assistance – If they hesitate, offer to bring a dish or two to share, preferably something substantial you can enjoy.
- Have a Backup Plan – Never isolate yourself just because your food allergy cannot be accommodated. Your friends and family may mean well but most don’t understand the complexities associated with a gluten-free diet. Plan to eat before or after, or bring your own food if it makes you feel safer during dinner.
- Rule of Thumb – When in doubt, leave it out. If you’re not sure something is truly gluten-free, leave it out.
What is gluten-free?
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye.) Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines, and whether you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet can help control signs and symptoms and prevent complications.
Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
Recipe Submitted by Rochelle Goolsby
- Udi’s brand gluten-free bread (found in the freezer section at Publix)
- Sweet Italian sausage
- Organic chicken broth
- Optional: walnuts and raisins
Allow the GF bread to thaw. Cut the crust from the bread and place the bread on cookie sheets. Spray with olive oil and season with a dash of salt, rosemary, thyme and sage. Place in oven and broil on low until golden. Flip the bread on the reverse side and repeat. Allow the bread to cool and cut in cubes.
Chop the onion and celery and sauté in olive oil. Remove from pan and cook sweet Italian sausage, drain and add onion and celery. Shred two large apples with the skin and add to mixture. Chopped walnuts and raisins are optional.
Combine the cubed bread with the above ingredients and add organic chicken broth to desired consistency. Place the stuffing mix in a greased casserole dish and bake at 325 °F for 30 minutes.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Ball
Recipe submitted by Rochelle Goolsby
- 1 box gluten-free matzo balls (Use Olive oil and touch of parsley and a pinch of garlic powder)
- 1 whole chicken (exclude the liver and neck)
- 2 large boxed organic chicken broth
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 4 to 6 stalks of celery
- Water enough to cover the chicken in the pot
- 2 tbsp. parsley flakes
- 6 carrots cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 package of chinese rice noodles
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash chicken, place in pot. Add chicken broth, onions, celery, carrots, and spices. Boil, covered, until chicken is very tender. Remove chicken from broth and cool. Remove the skin and bones from chicken and cut meat into small pieces. Put back in the pot and continue to simmer on low.
Prepare matzo balls adding the parsley and garlic powder before placing mixture in refrigerator. Add matzo balls to hot soup pot and cover for 20 minutes. Add water to pot if needed. Cook the noodles.
A few minutes before serving the soup, add the noodles. Serve soup and add one or two matzo balls to each serving.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, left over turkey can be used instead of the chicken.