Monday, January 9, 2017

A simple guide to feeding your gluten free friends

I think lots of people panic when they learn that one of their friends is gluten free, and thereafter, they hesitate to invite this poor person to their home.

Gluten free people need friends, too!  A gluten free diet isn't really that hard to accommodate.  You don't have to go out and buy all kinds of weird, expensive gluten free products!

Most gluten free people don't expect to be able to eat all that much when they are away from home.  We are thankful for anything that we can eat!

Here is a list of common snacks you can offer to your gluten free friends:

  • Chips and salsa (regular corn tortilla chips -- not "whole grain"!)
  • Popcorn
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Nuts

Pretty normal, right?

For meals, GF people can eat almost any grilled or roasted meat, as long as it doesn't have gluten in a sauce or seasoning.  You can avoid this by using your own spices rather than a spice packet, and by reading the ingredients on sauces (many are naturally GF!).  Simply roasting meat with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs guarantees that it will not contain gluten.

A simple rule of thumb is to avoid prepared items that come in cans, boxes or packets.  Instead, purchase foods fresh from the meat and produce sections of the store.

Potatoes are safe, as long as you don't combine them with, for instance, a canned, condensed soup.  But baked, roasted, boiled or mashed, potatoes are a staple for GF diets.

If you thicken your gravy with cornstarch instead of flour, your GF friends will be able to use that, too, and they will be so thankful!  Just use half as much cornstarch as you would flour.

Rice is also safe and appreciated by people on GF diets. Use plain white or brown rice (not a boxed mix), and season it with your own herbs and spices to keep it clean.

Tossed salads are terrific, as long as you leave off the croutons and check the labels on the dressings.  Often, many salad dressings are GF, except blue cheese dressings.

Vegetables are usually safe, too, unless they are breaded and fried, or doused in a creamy sauce thickened with flour.  Steamed and roasted vegetables are staples for a person on a GF diet.

Mayonnaise is almost always GF (and contrary to popular belief, it is also dairy free!), so that's a good thing to know!  A potato salad with boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs, mayo and mustard is delicious and much appreciated by GF eaters who often can't find comfort foods to enjoy.  Many other salads are also safe, including most cole slaws (especially homemade), fruit salad, bean salads, etc.  Bulgar wheat salads (tabouli) are not okay, but if you are cooking from scratch, you can substitute brown rice for the bulgar wheat for a tasty, affordable alternative.

GF does not necessarily mean dairy free, so unless your friend tells you that dairy is off limits too, go ahead and serve cheese, yogurt and butter.

Eggs are GF, too!  As long as you keep them away from bread and flour or flour-based baking mixes, go ahead and cook up an omelette with vegetables, breakfast meats, and cheese for a nice, normal, hearty start to the day.

For dessert, you can provide your GF friends with fruit, chocolates (without any cookie type additives), most ice creams, glazed nuts and fancy coffee drinks.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, so wheat, barley and rye must be avoided.  This means nothing with wheat, barley or rye flour as an ingredient, no beef-barley soups, no marinades that include whiskey, beer or any other alcohol distilled from wheat, barley or rye grains.

Additionally, your GF friends cannot eat:

  • crackers
  • noodles or pasta 
  • bread
  • rolls
  • buns
  • bagels
  • pita
  • pizza crust
  • muffins
  • pastries
  • cookies
  • cake/cupcakes
  • pie

All the items on the above list can be purchased in GF forms, from stores that carry GF products, for a price.  Or you can find many delicious GF recipes online by doing simple searches.  If you would like to purchase or prepare any special, GF foods for a GF friend to eat at your home, it is an extremely kind and considerate thing to do, but it is not necessary.  If you just provide corn tortilla chips, potato chips, potatoes and/or rice as sides to vegetables and meat, your GF friends will be all set.

Hang out with gluten free people and offer safe foods confidently!  You will make their day!


Shannon said...

I was just gonna say "POTATOES" but you hit that point pretty well on your own.

(It would have been funny if the whole entry had just been "POTATOES!", but not nearly so useful.)

I actually don't think it is difficult at all to avoid serving gluten and you don't even need substitutes. Just starch it up with potatoes.

Shawn Carpenter said...

I live with a Gluten Freedom Fighter, and I can honestly say that I eat quite well!

(Sometimes, she indulges by letting me consume the occasional pizza, as long as I try to cover the smell of that delicious gluten-ridden crust.)