More and more people are being diagnosed with food intolerances and allergies, but none are so hard to cater for as the friend who can’t eat gluten. In the Western world, gluten is in so many foods we take for granted and used in so many premade foods, that the thought of accommodating your friend while keeping everyone else happy can be quite overwhelming.
Never fear, help is at hand! This is a handy guide to hosting the perfect gluten-free dinner party without making your gluten-free friend feel like a leper.
What we can’t eat
- Oats (some coeliacs can tolerate oats, but others can’t, so it’s best to keep them out)
This means no:
- Sausages (yes, they contain wheat unless specifically gluten-free!)
- Breaded or battered products e.g. chicken nuggets and some brands of potato wedges
- Gluten-containing grains e.g. pearl barley, couscous
- Flour e.g. in white sauce
What we can eat
- Any freshly prepared meats
- Any freshly prepared vegetables
- Rice noodles
- Gluten-free ingredients (see below)
Easy to find gluten-free (GF) ingredients
Your local supermarket will more than likely have a “Free From” section – you’d be surprised at the range of GF food now available.
- GF pasta e.g. fusilli, penne, spaghetti, lasagne (generally tastes identical to normal pasta – I guarantee your guests won’t taste the difference)
- GF breadcrumbs
- GF biscuits and cakes
- GF stuffing
- GF flours
- If you want to provide gluten-free bread as an alternative, it’s a nice idea to toast it beforehand. It can be pretty bland and uninspiring, but is usually perked up by toasting.
- Be sure to check all condiments and seasonings, such as stock cubes, Worcester sauce, ketchup, mustard, and anything with a “malt” flavouring (including malt whisky!). Soy sauce contains wheat, but if you are having Asian food it is reasonably easy to find Tamari soy sauce, which is gluten-free.
- There are many snacks and nibbles that are gluten-free, but some do contain gluten so please check the packet! My favourite gluten-free pre-dinner snacks are Nando’s peri-peri crisps.
- A lot of coeliacs are also lactose intolerant, so check with your friend – they may not have mentioned it because they didn’t want to add to your stress!
- If you do slip up, and buy something with gluten in it, don’t expect your friend to eat it! If they have coeliac disease even a small amount of gluten can make them ill for days. Really, honestly, we can’t have a single crumb!
For more information and advice, read this article from Coeliac UK.