Special occasions mark milestones large and small in our lives, but avoiding gluten when you attend one can be a challenge. With the proper preparations and supplies, you don't have to miss out on the fum.
Here is a guide for enjoying yourself no matter the occasion!
The more you know about the food being served, the better prepared you can be to eat safely. If possible, talk to your host/hostess in advance, and discuss your dietary needs. If the occasion is being catered, ask for contact information for the caterer to discuss the menu.
If contacting the host or caterer is not possible, carry a handful of G-F crackers in a ziploc baggie in your pocket or purse. When selecting food, choose single-item foods rather than combination dishes, which are often seasoned with gluten-containing mixtures.
* Choose fresh fruits and veggies, but give the dips a miss.
* Choose single-item foods that haven't been dressed, like caviar, shrimp,plain salmon, pickled herring, unglazed ham, plain roast beef, turkey or chicken, and cheese chunks, except veined cheeses.
* Avoid all spreads, sauces, casseroles, deviled eggs and creamy salads. Avoid crab unless it's in the shell. Mock crab is loaded with gluten.
* Desserts are right out, except for unglazed fresh fruit and clear flavored gelatin. Custards should be gluten-free, but some mixes may have gluten, so it's best to avoid them.
* Choose wine or hard liquor neat, on the rocks or with soda, Coke, 7Up, etc. Avoid wine coolers and other malt beverages, and drinks mixed with mixers. Sangria made with red wine, seltzer/7Up, sugar and citrus fruits is fine, but be sure it wasn't made from a mix.
* Choose unflavored coffee, and choose plain half & half if you like cream. Flavored coffees, creamers and other coffee additives may not be gluten-free. Flavored syrups may be safe to use; if the bartender isn't too busy, ask to see the label on the syrup you'd like.
Navigating the food tables at a cocktail party can be tricky, but a little advance planning can help you avoid trouble.
Showers and Parties
If You're A Guest
Since you received an invitation, you likely know the host(ess). Even if you don't, you have an entree to talk about your dietary needs in advance. Especially if you don't know the hostess, don't ask for special dishes to be prepared - unless of course you're the guest of honor. Simply ask what's going into the food being served, and base your decisions on that information.
Offer to bring a dish to pass that's safe for you to eat if the hostess doesn't have a tightly planned menu. Do try to bring something that blends with the style of food being served.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot find out in advance what's in the food, bring your own crackers or a couple slices of bread in a ziploc baggie. When you go to the food table, choose fresh fruits and veggies, plain meats and cheeses, and black coffee, tea, or clear punch. Choose water if necessary.
The more informal the shower, the more types of food you can bring for yourself. At the last informal shower I attended, I brought my own crackers, veggie dip, and bottled water, and it was a good thing, too: all I could eat was the raw carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Everything else had gluten, even the punch.
If You're Hosting
Hosting a shower makes it all easy for you. You can make food you can eat, and you can either make cake, cookies or other dessert that's gluten-free, or you can order in cake or cookies and just not eat them yourself.
Offer foods that you can eat, like cocktail shrimp, salmon that's been prepared gluten-free, G-F deli meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and veggies plus dips you've made yourself, homemade deviled eggs, or anything else you like, as long as you've made it yourself from safe ingredients, or you've purchased it after reviewing the ingredients to ensure it's gluten-free.
At the last shower I hosted, I offered three curries (hot, medium and mild) at the bride's request. The curries were easy and relatively inexpensive to put together, and were very well-received. I also had a tea-and-citrus punch, a gluten-free vanilla cake from a mix with homemade vanilla frosting, a meat-and-cheese tray, a veggie tray with G-F dip I made myself, and fresh fruit with cream cheese, marshmallow cream and frozen cherry dip. I offered coffee and a selection of G-F syrups and a little pitcher of half & half.
If you're hosting, you have lots of options now, especially with
all the really good mixes out there. You don't need to do everything
from scratch, and frankly, most breads and desserts turn out more
reliably well when you're in a hurry to put everything together than
made-from-scratch ones do.