OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

Avoiding Christmas Chaos - December 2019

Navigating the Christmas Party scene while remaining gluten free

By Cathy Lauer

gluten free christmas baking

Whether it’s your first or twenty first Christmas eating gluten free there are always things that come up at this time of year that require a little preplanning. School Christmas parties, cookie exchanges and workplace staff Christmas parties are being booked and menus decided. How will you navigate your way successfully through this season while keeping to your gluten free diet?

The most important thing here is of course preplanning. Keep in mind there may be others in your situation that would be happy to know that they can also eat safely at the staff party. Most events are planned well in advance and if you can be on the planning committee or at least let the planning committee know of your special requirements there can often be accommodations made. If your staff party is being held at a restaurant ask if you can pick the restaurant. That way you will know you can eat safely and everyone else will enjoy themselves as well. If you aren’t sure where to eat go to The Celiac Scene www.theceliacscene.com and look up restaurants in your area. If you give your planning committee a list of possible restaurants that you can eat at it will give them choices too.

If your party is catered ask to speak to the caterer. Many caterers are quite happy to accommodate special diets as there are so many these days needing special food. If you are doing a potluck my rule is bring a large main dish that you like. Many potlucks have salads, vegetable and fruit trays that are gluten free so if you make sure to take care of a main dish for yourself you won’t go hungry. I also usually bring a large, simple baked dessert like brownies or bars of some sort. That way I get to indulge in dessert like everyone else. If you don’t mind being the organizer of the potluck you can make some suggestions about what people should bring. On the actual day of the event I usually try to be in charge of setting food out on the table so I can keep my gluten free food away from the glutinous ones and I try to be at the front of the line when the food is served. That way I can be sure that no one has used the wrong spoon or accidently dropped something in the food I brought.

Labelling the food you bring is also a good way of letting people know what is in the dish you brought. Twice a year the homeschool group I belong to has a potluck event. Everyone is required to label their contribution be it salad, main course or dessert. We have a lot of people with allergies so it is extremely important that all food be properly labelled, including the name of the person who brought it, in case someone needs to ask further questions. This often leads to recipe sharing which can also be an added benefit to labelling.

Cookie exchanges are also quite popular at this time of year. Most are not gluten free but if you contact your local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association you may find they have one or with your encouragement may be interested in organizing one. If you know friends or family who are gluten free you might try having a cookie exchange of your own. This is a great way to sample what other gluten free bakers make. You may even find some new recipes to try or even find out about flours you don’t use but have always wondered about. There is always more to explore with gluten free baking, so be adventurous.

School parties are always a little more challenging to patrol unless you are there. My daughters always took their own food. Since both are hyper sensitive they were not interested in making themselves sick by eating something cross contaminated. I usual made them something special for lunch that day and packed an extra snack. I generally volunteered to make cookies or cupcakes so that there was at least one thing that my daughters could take from the snack table that they knew was safe. As previously mentioned fruit and vegetable trays are always a hit at a kids party and I made sure my daughters favourite fruits or vegetables were on the tray.

During the Christmas season many people visit friends and relatives that they may not have seen for a while. Often people bring out lots of goodies to share with their guests. Unfortunately there are not always gluten free options. Be sure to bring something along for sharing. This doesn’t necessarily need to be home baked. There are lots of chocolates that are gluten free as well as store bought cookies, crackers, ready to eat meats, cheeses, chips and pretzels. Be sure whatever you bring is on a fancy plate or in a tin that you don’t mind leaving behind. (dollar stores abound with these at this time of year) That way your gluten free goodies won’t need to be transferred to the platter with the glutinous goodies. Be sure to tell the hostess that you brought these to share with whatever meal you are there for so she knows you want to have them opened right away. Most hostesses are happy to have another item to add to the buffet table.          

As you can see with a little preplanning even the chaotic season of Christmas can be sailed though easily even on a gluten free diet. My hope is that you will not look at being on a gluten free diet as a burden, but as an adventure that becomes so a part of who you are that you embrace it with gusto. You may even find yourself trying new foods that you never imagined, and liking it, all because you had to leave wheat out of your diet. I wish you all a Joyous Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.


Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email

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