Gluten intolerance has become a big issue in America. I could go into all the reasons for this, but for now, let’s just thank Jesus for being our bread of life. :) Regarding this very serious gluten situation, when serving food to friends or family members who can’t eat gluten, it is very important that we know how to extend hospitality so we can prevent our guests and loved ones from becoming sick.
Sick?? Yes. While some simply experiment with eating gluten free to see if it is a diet that helps them feel better or lose weight, there are some who have a solid diagnosis of Celiac Disease or other gluten intolerance that mean that they must avoid all gluten, all the time, no matter what.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten can also be found in regular oats that have been processed in a facility that processes wheat, rye, or barley. (Oats that have been clearly labeled “Gluten Free Oats” are safe.)
How to Feed Guests Who Can’t Eat Gluten
Truth: A person with Celiac Disease can’t eat even one tiny morsel of something that contains gluten without getting sick. We’re talking about sauce that has been thickened with a tiny bit of wheat flour, chicken that has been breaded with crushed wheat crackers, or even a small nibble of communion bread at church. There’s no such thing as “don’t worry – this only has a little bit of wheat in it” when it comes to feeding someone who must eat gluten free. For these people, gluten free eating isn’t an option, it is a must.
Sooooo, be aware of this and be cautious! But don’t be afraid. I’ve learned over the past decade how to easily feed my friends who can’t eat gluten. I don’t even need to buy special food to do this! I simply cook regular food, making sure to read all labels and avoid wheat, oats, barley, and rye.
Easy Meals to Feed Gluten Free Friends
You’d be amazed at how many foods are naturally gluten free! When in doubt stick with meat, fruit, and veggies. For more ideas, check out this huge list of simple meal ideas! They are gluten free without even trying!
- Simple Baked Salmon and Asparagus
- Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick
- Last-Minute Lentil Chili
- Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs
- 20-Minute Taco Soup
- Simple Cheesy Baked Chicken
- Simple Creamy Chicken Stew in the Crock Pot
- Simple Italian Beef and Broccoli Skillet
- Simple Bacon Ranch Chicken
- Simple Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken
- Simple Taco Rice Dinner
- Simple Last Minute Nacho Plate
- Simple Chicken Cheeseballs with a Kick
- Simple Beanie Weanies
- Simple Crock Pot BBQ Spareribs
- Simple Pizza Chicken Bake
- Simple Italian Chicken and Green Bean Bake
- Simple Hamburger Soup
- Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish
- Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken
- Simple 15-Minute Meal
- Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast
- Simple Honey Mustard Chicken Legs
- The Easiest Mashed Potatoes in the World
- Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp
- Simple Crock Pot Shredded Ranch Chicken (for salad or tacos)
- Simple Barbecue Beef Roast
- Simple Spanish Rice Bowls
- Simple Roasted Rotiserie Chicken
- Simple Green Chile Chicken
- Simple Tex-Mex Creamy Chicken
- Simple Waffle Omelets
- Simple Grilled Chicken
- Simple Hawaiian Beef Roast
- Simple Crock Pot Creamy Stew Meat
- Simple Cheese Stuffed Burgers
- Simple Hashbrown Casserole
- Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
- Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll
- Simple Garlic Parmesan Chicken Legs
- The Simplest White Chicken Chili
- Simple Lentil Nachos
- Simple Tuna Patties
- Simple Crock Pot Applesauce BBQ Chicken
- Simple Hashbrown and Egg Nests
- Simple Veggie Fritters
- Simple Lemon Garlic Chicken Legs
Easy Snacks to Feed Gluten Free Guests
- No Bake Cookie Cups (5 minute prep!)
- Cream Cheese Salsa Dip (2 ingredients!)
- Parmesan Crisps (so easy you won’t believe it!)
- Sweet and Salty Almonds or Pecans
- Chocolate Cheesecake Fudge
- Creamy Italian Veggie Dip
- No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Honey Sweetened Flourless Peanut Butter Bars (3 ingredients!)
- Easy Cheesy Popcorn
- Creamy Chocolate Fruit Dip
What to Avoid When Cooking For People Who Can’t Eat Gluten
Again, the ingredients to stay away from when cooking gluten free are wheat, barley, rye, and regular oats. In addition, you need to avoid:
- Previously opened ingredients: There might be wheat bread crumbs in your jar of peanut butter or on a used stick of butter. Start fresh to be sure your food isn’t contaminated with gluten!
- Baking stones and cast iron: These can absorb gluten, so it’s best to use stainless steel or glass pans and bowls.
- Wooden cutting boards and wooden spoons: Again, these can absorb gluten. Use stainless steel utensils and a plastic cutting board instead.
A Few More Gluten Free Cooking Tips
- If you want to serve bread with your meal for guests who can eat gluten, place it away from the food that is gluten free.
- It’s a good idea to cover a baking pan with parchment paper before putting food on it in an effort to protect it from gluten contamination.
- If you use your blender or mixer, be sure to wash it thoroughly first.
- If you’re planning to grill meat (a wonderful choice for cooking for GF friends!) be sure to clean the grill grates before cooking meat so you can keep the meat gluten free. (This is important if you ever use your grill to heat up bread or Texas toast.)
- Don’t be offended if the person you’re feeding asks to see packages, ingredients lists, or if they ask specifics about how something is cooked! Their health depends on it and they must be assured that the food they are eating is safe for them!
Gluten Free Friends: What are your favorite meals? Are there any other tips you’d appreciate the rest of us knowing about?
Remember, cooking gluten free food truly isn’t difficult once you realize how many thousands of food options there are that are naturally gluten free. Again, be cautious and courteous, but don’t be afraid. You’ll find that making gluten free meals really is as easy as cooking meat, steaming veggies, and slicing fruit!
Helen Thomas says
Also beware silicone as it cannot be sufficiently cleaned. Don’t use your open box of toothpicks either, if you’ve used any as cake testers. Cross contamination is hard to control for celiacs!
My favorite meals to cook for friends with allergies and dietary restrictions: buffet bars! Like baked potato bar, taco bar, dessert bar… yum. But DO make sure that foods aren’t cross-contaminated! I hadn’t thought about that wheat crumbs on the butter. Of course, baking usually requires a whole new stick anyway… :-)
Mary Buzzell says
Great post Laura!
One of our pastors has celiac disease and was having problems when she drank coffee she fixed at home (but, oddly enough, not when she bought something out at Starbucks, etc.). Turns out, the all-natural coffee filters she had been using at home contained gluten. Yikes!
Also be aware that “enriched” white rice is enriched with a barley additive – so NOT gluten-free. My daughters and I have celiac disease and I’ve been doing this for almost fifteen years. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Also, watch your spices, since some of them may have gluten. And then there’s the “modified food starch” which if is not listed as to where it comes from (i.e. corn or tapioca) could be wheat.
Holly White says
As someone who has Celiac disease and has 4 children who also have it, my best advice for hospitality is to either plan something that does not offer food, or be accommodating when they bring their own food.
If you absolutely must serve everyone something, please consider using only sealed gluten free certified foods and serve them right out of the container.
I know this sounds harsh, but our family has gotten sick from things as simple as unlabeled spices, plain unlabeled canned beans, chicken breasts injected with gluten-containing chicken stock, things warmed in an oven that normally cooks gluten foods, and airborne undeclared gluten powder that had been added to meal packing kits we were packing with a ministry.
Celiac patients cannot tolerate even microscopic amounts of flour from the air. This means that even if you’ve cooked regular brownies for your guests, there are flour particles in the air and oven that don’t go away from a long time and can make someone with Celiac disease very sick.
This is so challenging as a host! One of our sons is non-Celiac gluten intolerant but cross-contamination isn’t an issue, so I have an idea what you are going through. We also have friends whose children have anaphylactic nut allergies. And we regularly host potluck meals in our home. I’ve sat down with the nut-allergy moms and asked for protocol to know if my food is safe for their child. Sometimes it is. Sometimes not. The parents are always gracious when it isn’t and extremely appreciative when it is.
My MIL avoids gluten (though is NOT Celiac), like Laura I often choose to make naturally gluten free meals, like meat, potatoes and veggies. I also sub out pasta for brown rice, quinoa (cooked in homemade stock), millet or GF polenta. GF cornstarch can often be used in place of flour as a thickener. For desserts, I make something like regular brownies for the whole group with an GF alternative for her. Such as quinoa brownies to go with homemade ice cream and homemade dark chocolate sauce. Pie for everyone else, and GF fruit crisp for her. Ice cream sundaes are another naturally gluten free dessert. I also have a recipe for flourless chocolate cake for two. For people with severe gluten intolerance, I go to a local gluten free, celiac approved bakery.