Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Host a Gluten Free Guest for the Holidays

For the Celiac or Gluten-Sensitive Individual

Going to a relative’s house can be nerve-racking when you must adhere to a gluten free diet. One thing I have learned over the last decade is it’s critical to communicate your dietary needs ahead of time. It’s common to feel embarrassed or worry about hurting people’s feelings, but the situation will be worse if you wait until the meal is being prepared to check and read labels. Don’t show up at a person’s house and then tell them, especially if you’re an overnight guest. Be clear about your level of sensitivity (Ex: Is cross contamination an issue?) and give them some example meals or let them know what you will do to help when you arrive to make things easier.

For the Host/Hostess

For those of you fixing a meal for an individual following a gluten free diet, I recommend checking for easy substitutes for your planned dishes. You can buy gluten free bread for stuffing, GF flour for gravy, and rice flour and xanthum gum as a substitute for regular flour in pies.

It’s easier than you may think to cook and bake gluten free foods, however it does require extra research and planning. I suggest keeping it simple. If you’re preparing a typical holiday meal with a Turkey you’ll need:
  • A basic GF flour mix for the gravy (Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour works well and has complex carbohydrates.)
  • A GF bread mix or prepared GF bread for the stuffing and for the table
  • A GF dessert
If you live out in the country where there is a limited gluten free section in the supermarket, you can order flours and mixes online. Vitacost is a great, discount company that I use regularly ( It’s easy to navigate and simple to find a variety of products.

Keep in mind that it’s okay to have regular, gluten-based dishes. It will be cheaper and will most likely be preferred by those not on a GF diet. Your GF guest will understand, although she will feel hurt if there is dessert, stuffing, or gravy for everyone else, but not them (depending on dietary or culinary preferences). If time is not on your side in your preparations, ask the GF person to bring a few dishes of their own that you can’t get to or to help with the preparations in another way.

Hosting an Overnight GF Guest

One thing to remember is that although many GF people still can eat all the foods that are naturally gluten free, they still DO need complex carbohydrates. Just leaving out the bread and flour means that person is missing out on almost an entire food group! Make sure each meal has one of the whole grains listed in my post “Whole Grains and The Gluten Free Diet.”

You can order a GF starter kit at Bob’s Red Mill here to keep on hand in case you realize last minute you don’t have as much GF food as you’d thought:

A Sample Menu for an Overnight GF Guest:

Breakfast: Bob Red Mill’s Might Tasty GF Hot Cereal and Milk or Milk Substitute and Fruit
Lunch:  Spaghetti with a brown rice pasta (Tinkyada brand) or quinoa pasta (Ancient Harvest brand)
Dinner:  A Main Dish, Vegetables, and Brown Rice or GF Whole Grain Bread

Things to Be Aware Of

If someone is bothering to adhere to a GF diet, small amounts of flour in the mixes and sauces that you normally use is most likely an issue. Ask the GF person to be sure. Also, don’t add potential gluten containing items to a dish, such as croutons to a salad, and please don’t advise the GF guest just to eat around them. Most GF people cannot do that without consequences, or, at the very least, it will make them nervous.
Unless you check and it’s okay, don’t use a cutting board for bread and then chop up something for the GF person. Also, don’t share toasters, cookie trays, pots, or pans without cleaning them out thoroughly if that’s possible. Many GF breads aren’t as good without a toasting, but the oven can be used for that. 


  1. I was hoping to get away with not doing recipes because the overwhelming amount already online, BUT I guess there's no avoiding it. Many of the especially tasty baked goods/desserts I make I don't consider very 'healthy' b/c they are highly rated on the glycemic index (which seems to have a greater affect on those on a GF diet). I do have a lot of main dishes and some unconventional desserts and breads I could post.