This can be a stressful time of the year for most, and especially for those of us who live a gluten-free life – out of necessity, not just for the ‘trend’.
I’ve listed 10 tips for eating safely over the festive season, which I hope will be helpful. Should you have others, please add them in the comments.
- Roast chicken, turkey, beef or lamb, can also be enjoyed by celiacs. Ensure that you do not use wheat-based stuffing, such as bread. If you cannot find gluten-free stuffing, then just leave it out. To season the meat, salt, ground black pepper and plain dried or fresh herbs can be added for extra flavour. Store bought basting or marinate, are risky, unless it states that it is Gluten-free.
- For mashed potatoes, or pumpkin; use cornstarch in place of wheat flour, and season with plain spices, which are naturally gluten-free.
- For soups; thicken with corn starch, which is easily found in local stores.
- To avoid cross-contamination, ensure that whatever dishes you prepare, not to use the same utensils and dishes as you would for the usual wheat-based meals. Also ensure that you clean work surfaces in the kitchen before preparing gluten-free dishes.
- Should you be visiting a non gluten-free home for the holidays, contact the hosts, and inform them about your concerns; and if need be, explain to them how to cater for you. Taking along safe snacks, and even meals that you’ve prepared ahead of time, for yourself, could also be helpful.
- If you are hosting a Christmas dinner, and know that guests will bring something along, give them suggestions. They could bring along a bottle of wine, fruit, or even brand names of snacks which you know to be safe to consume. That way, they won’t feel offended, or worry about what to get that is safe for you and your guests to enjoy.
- When eating out on Christmas Day, phone the restaurant ahead of time, or even pay them a visit, to see what is safe on their menu; and speak to the manager, or even the chef if need be, to ensure that they understand why you need a ‘gluten-free meal’.
- Remember to always read labels carefully before buying products from a store. Brands often change their Christmas treat ingredients, and a product you bought before may not still be gluten-free.
- Be adventurous in your kitchen! If you have time off over the festive season, then why not try out some of the recipes on this site, or create some of your own.
- Some ingredients may have hidden gluten, for example: alcohol, Soy sauce, Oyster sauce, vinegar, stock cubes, meat tenderizer, cooking wine, sausages, chocolates, and starch.
Above all, try not to stress too much about the holiday season, and what you, as a coeliac are missing out on. Enjoy the naturally gluten-free foods that are available, and if you really want a tasty sweet treat; experiment making your own, or buy from a trusted supplier.