How to Accommodate a Gluten-Free Dinner Guest: 5 Tips

So one of your dinner guests can't eat gluten. How do you plan? Like cooking for any food preference, cooking for a gluten-free guest can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep the evening flowing smoothly.

1. Plan a gluten-free dinner - This might seem extreme just to accommodate one person, but if you're expecting someone with a high sensitivity to gluten, even some residual flour on a plate can cause a reaction. Try focusing on serving vegetables, proteins, and grains that are naturally gluten-free.

2. Serve gluten-free dishes separate from other dishes - Don't put rice crackers on the same tray as Triscuits, for example, or expect guests to eat around noodles in chicken noodle soup. Gluten has a pesky way of mingling with anything it touches.

3. Do a quick refresher on what eating gluten-free means - Gluten is hidden in some unexpected places like soy sauce, beer, vinegar, and marshmallows. Know what to avoid before you realize your guest can't eat half the food you've prepared.

4. Ask your guest what they prefer to eat - Just because a food is gluten-free doesn't mean someone will like it. I learned this when I specially made gluten-free peanut butter macaroons for a friend with Celiac disease who actually didn't like peanut butter or macaroons. Some fresh fruit and whipped cream would have been just fine!

5. Don't reinvent the gluten wheel - Substituting gluten-free flours for traditional flour is trickier than it sounds. Sarita Ekya, the chef and co-owner of NYC's macaroni and cheese restaurant S'MAC, experimented for an entire year before getting her gluten-free mac and cheese just right. Stick with simple dishes and well-tested recipes.

How do you cook gluten-free?

Related: Give Up Gluten? Why and What It Means to Be Gluten-Free

(Images: Flickr user Dennis Wong licensed for use under Creative Commons)