How can I Cook for Gluten Intolerant Guests?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Gluten intolerance affects a small amount of the world population, but it can be a very debilitating condition. Individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease are unable to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It can be intimidating to cook for guests who suffer from gluten intolerance, but with some creativity it can be possible to cook a delicious and healthy meal for everyone.

Quinoa is suitable for gluten-intolerant people.
Quinoa is suitable for gluten-intolerant people.

When you are cooking for guests with gluten intolerance, it is probably easiest to make an entirely gluten-free meal. There are a wide range of gluten-free foods available, and in this way you can assure your guests that everything on the table is safe to eat. A number of grains including quinoa, buckwheat, rice, corn, millet, and amarantha are all gluten-free and suitable for many recipes. You should be aware that oats and teff, two naturally gluten free grains, are often grown near wheat, and therefore may contain gluten. To be safe, it is probably better to avoid these foods.

Grilled zucchini can be a good dish for gluten intolerant guests.
Grilled zucchini can be a good dish for gluten intolerant guests.

When shopping for foods to serve at your meal, inspect ingredient labels with care. Wheat is often included in foods to stretch them or add flavor. Even a small amount of wheat can affect people with gluten intolerance adversely. Many packaged foods are made specifically with gluten intolerance in mind, and you should be able to find sauces, dressings, and other foods which are clearly labeled as gluten free. You are always safe with fresh meat, fish, and produce, which can be the centerpiece of your meal.

Polenta is usually gluten-free.
Polenta is usually gluten-free.

Some bakeries make gluten-free breads which you can serve with your meal. For appetizers, you should think about salads, grilled vegetables or meats, cheese plates, or tarts made with gluten free flour. When you reach the main course, your imagination is the only limit: in addition to meat or fish and vegetables, you could use gluten free pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes as starches. Polenta, risotto, and other regional dishes are traditionally and deliciously gluten-free. If your gluten intolerant guests are also vegetarian or vegan, tofu and tempeh are excellent options, although you should inspect the labels to ensure that they are gluten free.

Corn usually doesn't cause a reaction in people with gluten intolerance.
Corn usually doesn't cause a reaction in people with gluten intolerance.

Dessert is your true opportunity to be creative. Although you could stick with safe gluten-free foods like puddings, ice cream, and panna cotta, you could also explore other options, such as flourless tortes. Many people with gluten intolerance miss cakes and pies intensely, and you can impress and delight them with a little bit of experimental baking. Gluten free desserts are often dense, rich, and delicious, and will satisfy all of your guests, not just those with gluten intolerance.

A cookbook specializing in gluten-free cooking can be an invaluable resource.
A cookbook specializing in gluten-free cooking can be an invaluable resource.
Fresh vegetables are gluten-free.
Fresh vegetables are gluten-free.
Tofu is a gluten-free food.
Tofu is a gluten-free food.
Gelatin is a good dessert for those with gluten intolerance.
Gelatin is a good dessert for those with gluten intolerance.
Flour made from the buckwheat plant is a popular wheat flour alternative and contains no gluten.
Flour made from the buckwheat plant is a popular wheat flour alternative and contains no gluten.
Gluten-free pasta is an option for serving gluten intolerant guests.
Gluten-free pasta is an option for serving gluten intolerant guests.
Rice is a gluten free grain.
Rice is a gluten free grain.
Potatoes are gluten free.
Potatoes are gluten free.
Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops are a suitable appetizer.
Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops are a suitable appetizer.
Breads and other foods made from wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten and cannot be served to anyone suffering from gluten intolerance.
Breads and other foods made from wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten and cannot be served to anyone suffering from gluten intolerance.
Risotto is a popular gluten-free dish.
Risotto is a popular gluten-free dish.
Related to millet, teff is a small, gluten-free grain that can be used in breads and cereals.
Related to millet, teff is a small, gluten-free grain that can be used in breads and cereals.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

jabbocat

Remember a Gluten Free guest may also be a *wheat* free guest - certainly do not serve Millet, Amaranth, and Quinoa = which are too close to Wheat for those allergic. It is also best not to serve this person casein (a protein in dairy fat), as well as lactose (12-carbon chain sugar that occurs in dairy). Lower bowel pain, the feeling of being *full* all the time, spoken-about flatulence, and sleepless nightmare-dreaming nights follows if this type of diet is not followed by the bowel-compromised.

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