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how do you entertain your dietary restricted guests --- gluten, dairy -- products avail in BC?

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since we are coming in to what is likely the foodiest time of year (as in we spend the most money on food at this time of year for entertaining etc) --- how do you accommodate your gluten-free or other dietary-requirement guests?

i look for items that don't single out that particular guest --- and so far ....

i have found one cracker at Costco (greater vancouver area) that i would keep on hand regardless of gluten-free factor.

it comes in a carton of two shiney plastic bags --
Item 144571 Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers - approx 10 dollars per box.

each cracker is about the size of a twoonie, just a tiny bit bigger - and looks really attractive (nice seedy texture) and stands up well to having goat cheese spread on it, you know what i mean --- these are MILES AND MILES better than those usual gluten free crackers (sesame, cheese, plain, and some other flavour)

my other stand-by gluten free are good tortilla chips (but sometimes you want cheese and crackers, hence the cracker recommendation above) and i highly recommend the ones that come from Kamloops (i found them in Vanc area IGA, etc) "Fresh is Best Salsa Company" 325 grams (comes in plain yellow corn and also some sort of multi-color mix.)

that said - they do say on their pkg that "may contain wheat, soybeans, milk" tho none of those items are specifically listed on the ingred list.

*of course, hummous is a great dip for sensitive guests (easy on the garlic)
*and i suppose one could make the shortbread that has only cornstarch in it (no wheat flour)
*and i do sometimes make a locally sourced plum (italian prune plums) jam with no-sugar Benardin pectin (at IGA in BC) and a bit of splenda for the diabetic guests. I also use splenda in my fresh cranberry orange relish - i found some great "dry picked" cranberries from Richmond area at the farmer market recently - way better than the usual brand one finds in the supermarket. Really pretty .and about the same price.

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  1. My plan usually includes: one dish without either dairy or meat, one item with no wheat or gluten (depending upon the guest list), one item without nuts. It's easier if I can get away with just gluten-free/vegan and not worry about the nut bit. There are some great rice and corn pastas, which are available in major grocery stores. Choices Markets has their own gluten-free breads which can be turned into crostini or breadcrumbs.
    Additional strategies include making items from scratch, so that I know what's in the dish (no sauce shortcuts). But then, I'm a food professional who frequently cooks for clients with special diets. I keep learning about substitutions, and have had great success integrating specialty diet foods into a mainstream menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KarenDW

      I don't invite them-enough is enough.

    2. I have celiac disease and could not eat food that someone else who is not celiac has prepared due to cross contamination issues, particularly if I was not around. There are always things like scratched plastic utensils, toaster ovens, double dipping, etc. to take into account. When I am invited over I must either eat first at home or bring my own food (other than pre-made snacks that but even then I must ensure there is no cross contamination going on with dips and so on). Not an easy thing. I applaud those who want to make the extra effort!

      Last Christmas was at my in laws. A special area in the kitchen was designated for me to prepare my own things. At all meals it was crucial for me to be in the kitchen except for boiling eggs for breakfast. I was constantly reading labels. My butter had to be in a separate container and I had to bring along spices I knew were safe. Well-intentioned people had GF crackers for me but they were on the same platter as gluten crackers so I was unable to have them, anyway. WHEW! It is so much easier for me to host in my home.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefathome

        i had no idea about the extent of care ... and pls forgive my lack of awareness. I have guests who are very carefull --- so how do you shop?

        i absolutely notice your point about the same platter - i know not to do that and not to have just used the knife or other prep tool

        the butter is separate for you cuz other people likely double dip the butter dish which i hate - toast crumbs in my kitchen butter!

        i don't intend to make light of the situation however i was just looking up "gluten free bake sale" or similar search term - and can you believe, it comes up with gluten-free PEANUT BUTTER cookiies ---oh sure. send those to school. Not likely

        1. re: Georgia Strait

          Believe me, my awareness was about 10% prior to my diagnosis so I would say your awareness (and care!) is beyond most. When shopping I generally avoid most processed stuff (always have, anyway) and scrutinize labels like crazy. If I am still I unsure I contact the company of the particular product. Same applies with any medications and supplements - gluten lurks in very mysterious locations! Thankfully I have always been a scratch cook which really, really helps. I cannot imagine having celiac disease and hating to cook!

          The only way we can attend potlucks is to bring our own food. Weddings? I had to skip the meal at one this past summer. Eating out is the most difficult, including most restaurants. Where I live we have zero places I can eat out so when we want to, we drive to the city which is 350 km away.

          It is possible to make GF peanut butter cookies but I would only trust them if they were made in a gluten-free environment as gluten can cling to wooden spoons, in corners of sheet pans, the peanut butter if double dipped...

          Get this. If there is a pet and slurpy kisses involved, we must wash our hands immediately because most pet food contains gluten and if we touch our hands to our mouths we could ingest it. All sorts of things one learns! :-)

      2. Hey GS,

        I saw this in Canadian Living not too long ago (and managed to find it online just now). 10 tips & tricks:

        http://www.canadianliving.com/food/en...

        http://www.canadianliving.com/food/en...

        1 Reply
        1. re: LotusRapper

          These are great suggestions except that we as celiacs generally cannot eat at someone else's home safely unless we bring our own food or can be sure that all utensils and so on are 100% GF dedicated. Same with the ingredients, of course. When I go to my Mom's house I do all the cooking and bring along my own cutting boards, etc. She loves it (she hates cooking) and I love it (I love cooking and it is safe).

          But this is great for those with other intolerances. It is appreciated when someone does his/her very best to make a food event fun and safe for all involved.

        2. I've got a picky, gluten-free, lactose intolerant vegetarian in my house and I have found a fair number of interesting recipes that she can eat in the October cookbook of the month, 660 Curries. It seems to me that many Asian and South Asian cuisines lend themselves very well to cooking for people with food intolerances. I try to look for recipes that don't contain the offending foods, and don't have the weirdness that comes from a substitution trying hard but failing to taste like something else. Thai rice noodles, for instance, are far more appealing to my dietary-restricted family member than rice pasta (which is actually quite nice, especially the better brands like Tinkyada, but it's a disappointment if you're hoping for the flavour of semolina).

          You do have to be willing to be extra-careful with label reading and researching condiments and flavouring elements (like soy sauce, which usually contains wheat) to make sure you get all the safe ingredients, but to me it's worth it if it means you can open up more food options for a person who will often be unable to share the food at a party. I had an Aussie house guest once who was gluten-intolerant and I managed to find a GF cake mix at the supermarket and make lamingtons for her; I was so happy that I could make her a taste of home as she was on a long round-the-world journey where she had to be constantly on alert about what she was putting into her mouth.