Today, I won’t be sharing a recipe or gluten-free tip. Since the holidays are around the corner, I wanted to do something more important: write a guide for the glutenFULL friend and or family member that will be in charge of the Thanksgiving or Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter, it’s holiday season for a reason) dinner. As a non-celiac cooking for a person with celiacs, I get the struggle and the fear of cooking a gluten-free meal the first time. But don’t worry. If you’re careful, it’s easy.
Without further ado, here is the guide to gluten-free holiday cooking for committed friends and family!
1. The first thing I would do if you are unsure about whether or not you can pull this off, is ask for help from your gluten-free guest in advance. Seriously. This can give both of you peace of mind. Ask for certain brands of product your guest prefers. Asking a guest’s preference not only shows you care, but also eliminates the chance they will feel guilty that you went out of your way buying a gluten-free product that they still can’t have.
2. If you decide to take the gluten-free bull by its horns, get ready to READ. Read, read, read all the small print even if it hurts your eyes. I reread the labels about 3 times in the supermarket and then another time at home before I use the ingredient to cook. It may seem stupid or over the top, but trust me, seeing a loved one in pain because you read over the word wheat once is NOT a fun thing. Also, make sure to check the most gluten-free seeming things, like salt. You will always get surprised (we found out about the salt we were using the hard way).
3. Cross-contamination. It. Is. A. Bitch. You just used that spoon to stir your gluten-free concoction and put it on your counter? Better get a new spoon. You just touched a dinner roll and want to dress the turkey with gluten-free spices? Better wash those hands.
The worst thing about cooking gluten-free and glutenfull at the same time is cross-contamination, hands down. I wash my hands a million times whilst cooking if I even had a crumb of gluten during the day and am cooking at night. Also when cooking KEEP YOUR GLUTEN-FREE UTENSILS SEPARATE FROM YOUR GLUTEN UTENSILS. There. I said it. To make sure of this, you can put you gluten-free utensils in an upright beaker or mug to keep them away from the other utensils. If you can not ensure that the surface you just placed that utensil on is 100% gluten-free, don’t use it again. Also, a simple rinse does not make it ‘safe’ again; if you don’t have time to wash it with (clean) hot water and soap, then grab a new spoon. And beware: dishwater can be glutenfull as well, just look at what you already washed in it.
4. Be smart about timing. For instance, it’s not a great thing to be tossing flour for homemade dinner rolls while you have a gluten-free dish on the stove.
So… have I scared you yet? In all honesty, cooking gluten-free is not hard work. Just take your time to read and think. And if you don’t feel comfortable with doing it, let your guest know in advance! Any person with an allergy or autoimmune disease like this would rather cook for themselves than be sick for two weeks. But if you try it and you do pull it off, you’ll have a friend forever.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this guide? Let me know in the comments!