From Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix
Having a daughter who has celiac disease has caused me to be hyper-ware of the challenges hosts, restaurants, and hotels face when catering to guests who need gluten-free (GF) foods. Now 28, she has lived with celiac disease since age 11. Last week, attending a conference at a big hotel chain and having supplied her food sensitivity needs, she was faced with a lunch they provided of two pieces of untoasted GF bread between which was a slice of ham and a piece of lettuce – inedible because there was no mayo, mustard, or anything to help this dry offering navigate her food pipe! Untoasted GF bread is generally hard to eat and mayonnaise, butter, and margarine are generally GF, and could have been supplied! What were they thinking?
Gluten is in many foods that contain wheat and other grains. A true celiac sufferer can get sick with a few crumbs of contamination: Not sick in a way the host will notice, though. They feel nauseated, have stomach aches, and feel unwell a short time later and it can last for days, and even affect their mood. A guest who simply has chosen to eat GF is not so susceptible.
Here are some tips for the holiday season now that eating GF is becoming more common:
Hosts can help those with GF requirements by asking all guests to perfect the “wrist flick” when taking butter or margarine from its container: Dropping it onto bread with a flick, so the knife doesn’t touch the bread; ditto dips; jams and preserves.
Toasters used for regular bread cannot be used to toast GF bread for a true celiac sufferer. You could toast under a broiler on a clean baking sheet.
Mayonnaise, mustard, butter, margarine, and ketchup are all usually safe. Soya sauce is not; anything that contains yeast extract as an ingredient is not safe. Checking seasoning salts, herb mixes, and gravy mixes for their ingredients carefully before adding to the foods they will be consuming is helpful.
If I have GF-requiring guests, I usually use the opportunity to design a meal where nothing contains gluten and everyone can eat freely, much appreciated by the GF guests who are relieved to not be singled out. It is a mindful experience to do this as paying close attention is key! Meats, fruits, and vegetables are GF. I also ensure there is no wheat or other grains in the gravy (cornflour is usually okay). There will usually be no pies or cakes for dessert, so options I use are: Fruit compotes with ice cream where the ingredients have been checked; trifle, where the cake part is GF, such as using a GF breakfast loaf or GF pound cake; crème brulees; creme caramels; panna cottas; fresh fruits; and quality cheeses.
GF brownies are also good – but nowadays, unless you make them, you are not going to be too sure what else may be in those brownies!