Do not be caught unprepared when party planning. There is no worse feeling than having a gluten intolerant guest arrive that cannot eat anything being served. Gluten intolerance is a disease affecting millions. Keeping options available is important.
Be aware that all things gluten free are not necessarily healthy. Those with gluten intolerance sometimes have a difficult time keeping weight on properly and staying healthy because of the inability to digest gluten. They become very ill because of damage and inflammation in the small intestine. Since the small intestine is where nutrients are absorbed, keeping these nutrients where they belong becomes an issue. Those with gluten intolerance should be given consideration.
Understanding a little of the why will help with understanding how simple things can be when keeping in mind foods for a gluten intolerant guest. Many of the foods that are common as appetizers are completely gluten free. Sometimes it is as simple as making a different cracker available. Here are tips on some common foods to use, and options available.
Six Common Gluten Free Appetizers
Guacamole is a gluten free dip. Made with avocados, lime juice, and salt as a base, with possible scallions, tomatoes and cilantro as additions, it is naturally gluten free.
Cheese is generally gluten free, but be careful of any shredded cheese, as it can have wheat flour, and therefore gluten, used to keep the shredded cheese from clumping. Making a brie appetizer by peeling off the rind and setting wedges into an oven safe casserole, sprinkling on some brown sugar and chopped nuts and melting in the oven until bubbly is a naturally gluten free and elegant appetizer. Use apple wedges to scoop out the dip.
Dates, particularly Medjool, make a wonderful base for gluten free appetizers. Wrap the dates in half slices of center cut bacon and bake at 500 degrees on parchment lined baking sheets for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until done, to taste. Medjool dates stuffed with a chunk of Feta cheese are another easy and gluten free snack. Wrap prosciutto around the cheese stuffed dates for another added dimension.
Asparagus, chopped small and mixed together with equal parts of shredded Parmesan and mayonnaise and placed into a casserole and melted together make an excellent dip. Check your mayonnaise label for any wheat, barley or rye product. Crusty bread is great for this, but is not an option for a gluten intolerant guest. Think out of the box.
Meatballs, if made at home can be made without wheat bread crumbs or oats. While bread crumbs are not completely essential, substitutes for the bread crumbs can be as easy as crushing a crisp rice or corn cereal. If buying frozen meatballs, read the label very carefully for anything containing wheat. Wheat is often disguised with names like bulgur, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, spelt and semolina.
Relish trays, vegetable platters and deli trays generally will be perfect on their own. Make little skewers of some mixtures to make it look visually interesting. Much of our appetite starts with our eyes.
Scoop Substitutions and Options for Dips or Spreads
Plain tortilla chips or potato chips are naturally gluten free. Read labels anyway, to ensure that these snacks were not processed in a place that processes wheat products. Cross contamination is just as much an issue. Seasoned types of chips are likely to have added wheat in some form.
Most crackers are made with wheat and cannot be eaten by a gluten intolerant person. There are many alternative crackers commonly available in the health food aisle of groceries, or at your favorite health food store. Many stores are dedicating space to gluten free products these days. There are alternative crackers there, though not all are equally tasty. Nut thin type crackers are one kind that are generally liked by all people I have met. Try some out. If you like them, others may also. Pretzels are also made with wheat. There are many gluten free pretzel options available.
Bread is made with wheat. Commercial gluten free breads may have a strange texture and taste in comparison to a wheat based bread. Using a rice or corn cereal as a dipping scoop is a possibility.
Vegetables or fruits are always gluten free and are the best and healthiest option to use as a scoop for a dip. Guacamole can as easily be eaten with a carrot or celery stick. The brie appetizer mentioned above is best with apple wedges.
Keep an open mind and be aware. Read labels and be careful with cross contamination. Give gluten intolerant guests a fair selection and everyone is happy.
About The Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.
My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own.
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