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Gluten-Free Kitchen Confidential

Recently, I was fortunate to speak at the Celiac Awareness Tour Chicago. My talk was about “gluten-free kitchen confidential” — tips for keeping gluten-free at home and away.

I had many tips and thoughts to share, but here are the headlines:

  • BYOF — Bring Your Own Food. Always be prepared with safe gluten-free food, whether for school, sightseeing, plane trips or dinner parties.
  • Make sure gluten-free kids always have a great-looking, great-tasting gluten-free treat to bring to birthday parties or other occasions. It doesn’t always have to match what the other kids are having, but it should look tempting!
  • Focus on whole, healthy, naturally gluten-free foods such as meat, chicken, fish, fruit, veggies, dairy and eggs. Focus on all the good things that you can eat, not on what you cannot eat.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Don’t eat something unless you are 100% sure it is gluten-free. Also, if a restaurant doesn’t seem to fully understand your gluten-free requests, then leave. The risk is simply not worth it.

If you have questions about the gluten-free diet, please feel free to email me or post a comment any time. If it’s a more involved request, I also do gluten-free consulting — see the “Consulting” tab at the top of the page.

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Navigating holiday parties, gluten-free

pomegranate bark2

Gluten-free pomegranate bark, perfect to bring to a holiday party.

When you’re on a gluten-free diet, the holidays can seem like a minefield of tempting foods with unknown ingredients. A few easy strategies, as well as a few great gluten-free recipes, can make holiday get-togethers much easier.

When going to a holiday party or other event:

    – Understand that you will need to find your holiday cheer in the good company and conversation, not necessarily in the food.

    – Eat before you leave home, so you’re not overly hungry at the party. This will reduce the temptation to eat something that is not safe.

    – Bring your own dish or dessert to share (like the gluten-free lemon bars below), so you are assured there will be something you can eat.

    – Bring a gluten-free granola bar or nut bar (Larabars and Kind bars are tasty and filling), so you can sneak away and have a quick snack if there’s nothing safe for you to eat.

    – Be an early bird. Food left on a buffet table easily can become contaminated when guests use the wrong serving spoon, dip their pita in otherwise gluten-free hummus, or break bread over the salad. If you are at the party early, you can go into the kitchen and reserve untouched portions for yourself. You’ll also be able to read package labels.

    – Let your host know in advance that you cannot eat anything made with wheat, rye, barley and oats. Tell the host that she doesn’t need to make special foods, you would just like to determine which foods will be safe for you to eat. If you can find out the menu, focus on two or three dishes that seem likely to be gluten-free and ask about the ingredients in those specific dishes. If the party will have a buffet, ask the host to put aside uncontaminated portions for you in advance.

    – When in doubt, leave it out. Don’t eat food unless you are certain it is gluten-free.

For easy desserts to bring to holiday get-togethers, check out these Gluten Free Nosh recipes:

Cheers!

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