Gluten-free Holiday Survival Guide

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

My gift to you this season are some tips on gluten-free eating during this marvelous, but sometimes tricky, time of year.

Plan Ahead

If you are hosting, select your menu, organize your recipes, make a grocery list and prepare as many items as you can in advance. Test any new recipes beforehand.

When celebrating away from home, let your host know you are on a gluten-free diet and ask what gluten-free products your host might need and offer to buy those items accordingly.

Also, consider a dish you can bring to complement the menu.

Read Food Labels

Do not eat food if you don’t know the ingredients. If there are questions about a product, call the manufacturer. Educate your hosts about hidden sources of gluten or allergens.

Back to Basics

The best way to eat safely and nutritiously is to eat simply. Choose single-ingredient foods —wholesome items that are naturally gluten-free and allergy-friendly.

Prepare them by using simple recipes that do not require too many ingredients or much time. You can always enhance the flavor by adding zest, herbs, spices and flavorful sauces. Avoid packaged goods and refined products unless you have read the list of ingredients.

Substitute Safely

You can prepare gluten-free gravy, stuffing, biscuits and desserts using a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. With these commercial blends, now readily available in most grocery stores, you can rework almost any recipe.

Simply add up the amount of flour and starches in your recipe and replace that with an equal amount of gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.

Clean your Space

If you’re away from home and cooking in a gluten-full kitchen, clean your work surfaces with warm, sudsy water. Wash your hands frequently while cooking. Bring your own cutting board from home or buy a new one there.

Gluten-Free Snacks

Easy alternatives are vegetable or fruit platters, potatoes, cheese, main course meats (depending on how they are prepared), gluten-free grains such as quinoa, oats, rice, millet and sorghum.

To completely ensure you have something to eat, pack a few gluten-free snacks, nuts, dried fruit and gluten-free cereal in your bag. These come in handy while you’re a guest or traveling during the holidays.