Dear non-coeliacs, it IS possible to cater for gluten-free and it’s easier than you might think!

So you have a barbecue, or party, but oh no, your guest has coeliac disease! If you live in the UK, you might have seen that Tesco advert around where the family are panicking about a gluten free family coming over dinner and they have no idea what that means. And you’ll probably remember that they found A BUNCH of gluten free food in the end.  

Well, I will share what having coeliac disease means and the things to look out for if you’re hosting a get-together with a gluten-free person! After all, NO gluten free person wants to get invited somewhere and have to bring their own food to eat, or put up with a salad while everyone else devours burgers and cake.

First thing’s first, Coeliac UK tells us:

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition, caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine.

There’s no treatment for it, other than a STRICT gluten-free diet.

So, you’ll find at most parties and get-togethers you will probably have one or two fussy eaters, a few veggies, vegans, or people with other food intolerances. Most of the time, these people get catered for quite easily. And catering for gluten free has been difficult for a long time, due to the price and not enough awareness being raised about coeliac disease. But you can go into a supermarket now and ask for where the gluten free section is, and somebody can show you! Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda have fantastic ranges, so it should be a doddle for you. If you’re feeling V. Boojie, you can also check out M&S’s Made without Wheat range too!

So, what can you do to help out a coeliac at your get-together?

Statistically, only about 1 in 100 people are diagnosed with Coeliac disease, so the chances are, you don’t have to push the boat out too much when catering for gluten free.

At barbecues:

A lot of supermarkets now are putting labels on their sausages and burgers, with the gluten free crossed grain symbol. The crossed grain symbol is THE symbol to look out for when shopping, as it means it is 100% gluten free. But when a product doesn’t have it, always make sure you read the label and remember you are looking to avoid gluten. Any WHEAT, BARLEY and RYE will be labelled in bold and you should avoid it if it contains either of those. If the product says ‘May contain cereals containing/traces of gluten’ or anything along those lines such as ‘made in a factory’, avoid it at all costs, unless it says ‘gluten free’ on the packaging. Not everything is in the free from section.

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However, when you’re cooking them, please be conscious of cross-contamination, as just one crumb can cause so much damage to a person with coeliac disease. Some people say “The barbecue will just burn the gluten off.” But that is 100% a big fat myth. If there is what I call ‘muggle’ food stuck to the grill, there is definitely gluten.

Always make sure you use clean tongs, keep gluten buns and rolls away from the gluten free food, or even buy a disposable mini barbecue to be on the safe side! They are cheap enough to get! Or you could cook the gluten free food before anything else!

Gluten free buns and rolls aren’t hard to find and they aren’t very expensive either. You could ask your gluten free guest to bring their own buns,  or for the price of a cup of tea, pop to Tesco and grab some gluten free rolls, for £1.80! These are so soft and delicious, and cheap compared to some. You might even find some award winning gluten free beer while you are there! And make sure you have some squeezy bottles of ketchup, mustard and mayo while you are there, to minimise cross contamination and keep your coeliac friend safe!

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At parties

Sandwiches are the typical get together food, but “gluten free bread is expensive?”. 

Well, it can be, but since you’re spending all this money on catering for everybody else, you could put some aside and help your gluten free friends out, let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of us! If you’re cheeky, you could email gluten free companies before-hand and see if they offer free samples. Avoid Genius loaves at all costs if you want to make it worth your money, as a lot of us know that there’s usually a massive hole inside many of the loaves.  Asda have changed their own brand gluten-free loaves and I personally like this for sandwiches, and they’re only £2.

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Make sure you use a brand new tub of margarine/butter when you butter them to keep them safe from contamination.

For those wondering about contamination, I’ll explain it in my way.

Let’s say you buttered a slice of poison bread with a knife, and put the knife back in the tub several times. If you got a new knife and buttered a non-poison slice of bread with that same tub of butter, would you still eat it? No you wouldn’t because it’s had poison in it.

They also do a range of cakes, muffins and party treats for a good price. But if you wanted to make your own, coeliac.org.uk have some great recipes. Pick up a bag of Doves Farm  gluten free flour, and get baking!

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Marks and Spencer’s have you covered on the sausage roll front, as they have recently released some new things in their Made Without Wheat range and stock ‘dinky sausage rolls’ in their chiller section, so it’s worth checking them out. You can click here to check out the FULL LIST of items from the range and what stores stock them.

I really hope you found this little blog post helpful. Honestly, it’s not that hard to cater for somebody who needs to be careful around gluten. 

Feel free to share this post around, and take care!

Georgina

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