With Christmas fast approaching, and entertaining on the horizon I thought I would do a list of things that are naturally ‘gluten free’. It is often daunting to be told that somebody has to avoid certain foods, but it needn’t be. Read packaging well (currently there will be a box warning of any potential allergens – look out for gluten here), go to the ‘free-from’ aisle in any supermarket and stick with things that are naturally free of gluten. I am concentrating on gluten for the sake of this post because that is what we have to avoid in our family!
Naturally gluten-free meal and snack ideas:
1) Jacket potato with tuna mayo (check mayo!), cheese, baked beans (check ingredients), chilli (check ingredients and don’t add flour to thicken the sauce – cornflour will do the trick!), ratatouille, coleslaw (check ingredients if buying)…the list could go on!
2) Grilled or baked fish with potatoes and vegetables or salad
3) Roast dinner (minus the gravy!)
4) Meat – grilled, baked, in a stew…if in the latter just make sure you don’t thicken the sauce with flour (see above)
5) Tofu – can be used as a meat substitute if catering for a vegetarian or child who doesn’t like meat
6) Eggs – so an omlette for example would be ok
7) Beans and pulses – for example butterbeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils…use them in casseroles or stews but remember the sauce thickening warning again!
8) For a quick snack instead of sandwiches use rice cakes or corn cakes (although the latter is high in salt for kids!). Toppings such as peanut butter (check ingredients), cheese, ham (not breaded!), marmite and jam would all be fine.
9) Most soup is gluten-free. If buying, just check the ingredients and if making, check the stock.
10) Lots of crisps are gluten-free, but lots aren’t! We have found that Tesco own brand are pretty good and my daughter especially likes the ‘rings’ (like hoola hoops – which incidently are not gluten free!). Pom bears are also a very good option as are Burts who do a range for kids with no salt!
11) Humous is gluten-free and is a good dip for sliced up pieces of vegetables – a great way to get kids to eat some veg!
12) All fruit and vegetables are gluten-free!
13) Rice is gluten-free as is polenta, quinoa (can be used instead of cous cous), buckwheat, millet, corn, amaranth and teff (OK – you may not have heard of most of them!!!).
If you are catering for a coeliac just remember that cross-contamination is an issue (ie don’t use the same chopping board to make sandwiches and then chop up vegetables for the coeliac to eat – this is enough to make them ill!). A way around this at a buffet is to put the gluten-free food in colour coded bowls along with a spoon and ask people to use the spoon in the bowl and not from anywhere else (and no fingers allowed – tricky with kids I grant you!). The other ‘fail-safe’ is to get the coeliac to choose their food first!! That way they will know that no hands have strayed from the sandwiches into the crisps…
I hope that helps a bit if you are entertaining a coeliac this Christmas. Just remember, a coeliac isn’t just for Christmas, they are for life!!! So if you are entertaining them this Christmas, you may as well get good at it this year because you won’t have to worry next year then!