The holidays are a time of fun, festivity, and food. With parties and treats galore, it’s easy to partake and enjoy all the holidays have to offer.
Unless, of course, you have food allergies. In that case, navigating all the possible choices can be tricky. In my husband’s case, he has learned all the hidden sources of gluten, which are surprisingly many. What follows is an easy cheat-sheet to help make the holidays safe for your gluten sensitive guests, but still tasty for everyone else.
Alcohol. Most beer is made of barley or wheat, two big no-no’s for someone with a gluten allergy. Thankfully, some of the larger beer manufacturers are producing gluten free beers. New Grist and RedBridge are two that are easily found. RedBridge is my husband’s favorite. I haven’t drunk beer for years because it upset my stomach, but I have no problems drinking RedBridge (and I think it’s really tasty, too!).
Another of my husband’s favorite drinks is a good ‘ole vodka and tonic (two limes). Imagine his surprise and disappointment when he discovered his favorite brand of vodka, Grey Goose, is made from wheat! So don’t assume liquor is always safe. Here, the Glutenista shares a partial list of gluten-free alcohol, as well as some tasty gluten-free cocktail recipes.
Soups, Sauces, and Gravy. Most of these either contain flour or some kind of stock or broth. Typical white and wheat flour are obviously not gluten-friendly, and most stocks and broths contain wheat or modified food starch, a surprising source of gluten. You can easily tweak recipes and use allergy friendly products. Here is an excellent guide to which brands of chicken broth are gluten free, and here is a recipe for making your own gluten free chicken broth if you’re ambitious (personally, I like to use either the Pacific Natural Foods or Kitchen Basics brands).
Everyone I know makes gravy from flour and meat drippings. This is an easy substitution. The go-to gluten free flour is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour. I use this all-purpose flour for just about everything. My husband doesn’t even miss “regular” gravy!
Dips and hors d’oeuvres. Keeping this table gluten free is sometimes as easy as keeping it separate from items containing gluten. You don’t want people contaminating items that are naturally gluten free by dipping wheat crackers into them. Check out this post for 20 gluten free party snack recipes. And if you do want to serve crackers for your gluten free guests, try Blue Diamond’s Nut-Thins, which come in all sorts of flavors and are hearty enough for dipping.
Candy and Treats. This has been one of the hardest areas for my husband to get used to since going gluten-free. He loves his sweets. Fortunately, all you have to do is a little Google search and thousands of gluten-free recipes appear. One super easy substitution for a holiday classic, chocolate covered pretzels, is to swap Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels, which come in twists and rods, for your regular pretzels. Yum! You are safe using all the common brands – Nestle, Hershey’s, Bakers, Andes, Dove.
People with food allergies who attend your holiday parties don’t expect everything to be allergen free. However, they will appreciate that you made the effort to have some items on hand that they can enjoy. And sometimes, you may not need to let everyone know that something is gluten-free. Sometimes you find a recipe that’s so good, people just may be fooled into thinking that it’s not.
Like this recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pound Cake With Peppermint Drizzle (from the kitchen of Anne Byrn, featured on Good Morning America).
I made this last year for family holidays, and no one even knew it was gluten free. Om nom nom!
I sincerely hope everyone enjoys family, friends, and food this holiday season. Next month, I’ll share a few more recipes and products that will make your Super Bowl parties a hit! In the meantime, be checking out some of the products I recommended above.
Happy Gluten Free Holidays Dear Readers!!