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As a non gluten sensitive person, what should you consider when cooking for a gluten-free friend?

3 replies [Last post]
administrator's picture
Joined: 01/08/2013

Please share your suggestions.

Kimberly's picture
Joined: 04/16/2013
Who's Coming to Dinner?

Food is such an important part of socialization in most cultures. Weddings, picnics, dinner parties... it's hard to escape breaking bread with people in our lives. And if you decline, or don't eat (like I've done in years past), it gets awkward. I've been the vegan at the barbecue many times (and I assure you- no one has ever barbecued tofu dogs and boca burgers). For some reason, vegetarianism (maybe because it's a choice?), was easier for me to navigate than this whole GF/CF thing.

If you're like me, you're flattered at any invite. The older I get, the more I realize just how dear my friends and family are. Even if it's a "food" event, I'm there for the most part. There are the occasional hosts and hostesses who acknowledge my food sensitivities (and plan accordingly), but it is definitely a rare occurence. It takes a special kind of friend or relative to put in the extra effort to prepare meals for those of us who have exceptions.

I became a vegan over 20 years ago. And now, although I'm no longer a vegan, people tend to come to me when a vegetarian friend or relative is coming to town. Now that I have a son who I GF/CF, I even have people approaching me for gluten-free recommendations. If that's not a sign of the times, I don't know what is!

Avoiding gluten can be difficult, especially if you're a fan of pre-made, pre-packaged, or processed food. I am not a fan of any of these, so my gluten-free journey was definitely simplified.

People approach me fairly regularly. With Celiac Disease and Autism on the rise, more and more people are turning to diet modifications to help in the healing process. I'm pretty well known in this category, and love to give advice to those willing to listen!

-Keep it simple: Vegetables don't need to be swiimming in some pre-made sauce to taste good! My boyfriend (who is NOT gluten-free) loves brocolli, green beans or cauliflower with salt, garlic, onion powder, flavored vinegar, and salt.
-If at all possible, put sauces/seasonings on the side. Sure, you don't want to be known for bland food, but keep in mind that most companies don't have "dedicated" facilities, and some people may not be willing to take a gamble.
-Do a bit of research: you don't have to master gluten-free living to have a basic understanding. I know if I have a guest in my home, I like to at least have a general idea about how to entertain them. Don't you?
-Inquire: Like I said before, friends of mine use me as a vantage point on numerous occasions. I'm elated to share my experiences and recipes. It's not as hard as it sounds- go for it!

With the right guidance, and a bit of open-mindedness, you can have an amazing spread of gluten-free delights. With your friends in the trenches, and amazing forums such as this one, hopefully the venture is not discouraging but enlightening. Take a deep breath, stick to the basics, and your guest will feel completely at ease!

Kimberly gf mommy
Kayo's picture
Joined: 01/10/2013
Re: As a non gluten sensitive person, what should you ...

I agree with Kimberly's advice to "keep it simple". In my opinion, it's best to avoid prepackaged sauces or seasonings even if no gluten ingredients are listed on the labels. My husband for example seems to react to many of prepackaged sauces or seasonings unless they are very simple like ketchup, GF soy sauce, plain dried herbs, etc. Understandably, he would rather eat plain food than eating well seasoned food and risk his health. When we have a family get together, we usually set aside a small portion of dishes for him before they are seasoned. He can then add pepper, vinegar, or whatever he wants to his food, but most times he doesn't even need any additional seasoning.

Lucas's picture
Joined: 06/23/2013
Re: As a non gluten sensitive person, what should you ...

Step One: Know your audience! It’s true for practically any kind of entertainment, and certainly part of feeding your friends with GF concerns. This topic has me written all over it. I’m not gluten intolerant, but my girlfriend is. She has tested negative for Celiac’s, but even a flour tortilla chip will make her sick.

So, entertaining her on our first date was a little scary. She was coming to lunch and dinner, as we were going on a hike. I’ll admit to being totally intimidated (not just because she’s amazing, but because I really didn’t know what Gluten Free meant).

For her, she tries to not put anybody out, and that’s what I mean about knowing your audience. Some of our friends are Gluten Free, and for them it’s a topic of immediate conversation. They can’t handle anything (in some cases) or can handle a wide array of things.

One thing we try to do, as a rule, is not make a deal about it. We don’t want the GF guest to feel like an outsider, or a black sheep, of the group. There’s a fine line between making someone feel special by preparing a meal with them in mind, and creating an atmosphere where they are seen as the sickly friend to be pitied.

We try to choose meals that are as Gluten Free as possible, and then make variations available where possible.

Salads are a great standard in meals, and we have made a habit of providing suitable “mix-ins” like bread crumbs, tortilla chips, nuts, berries, dressings, etc. It’s easy to prepare and, again, doesn’t put anyone in a tough spot. It also caters to people with diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

It takes more thought, sure, but it’s certainly worth it!