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.
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.
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.
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.
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.