30 Days to Gluten-free Living – Entertaining

by Carol Kicinski on May 26, 2011

Gluten Free Entertaining

Tell me if this sounds familiar – you or someone in your home is gluten-free and you maintain a gluten-free diet but when you invite people over to your home you feel obliged to bring gluten into the house?

For many years I did this. Even though I made delicious gluten-free meals for my family and myself every day, when I had company coming, I panicked!  Should I “subject” my guests to my diet?  Would they feel deprived eating a gluten-free meal?  Was my diet somehow not good enough for others?

Maybe you are a well seasoned gluten-free eater or someone more confidant that I was and the answer is, “Of course not!  My home is gluten-free.”  If that’s the answer then good for you!  But I have found that some people, especially those new to a gluten-free diet, find themselves with the same doubts I had.

This month Diane from The W.H.O.L.E. Gang pulled together an amazing group of gluten-free bloggers to share their viewpoint, tips and tactics for gluten-free living in a series 30 Days to Easy Gluten-free Living.

I decided to share with you a thing or two I have learned over the years about entertaining gluten-free.

When I finally made the decision to entertain the same way I lived, it was Thanksgiving. In the past I had allowed gluten on my dinner table in the form of pies, gravy, stuffing and rolls. This particular year I decided that the entire meal would be gluten-free even though the majority of people joining us were not gluten intolerant. You know what? Everyone said it was the BEST Thanksgiving dinner they ever had – they didn’t feel stuffed and bloated after dinner and in no way did they feel deprived. This taught me a great lesson! What I feed myself and my family is GOOD ENOUGH to feed others who I invite into my home. And for the first time in years I didn’t get ill from all that gluten floating around my kitchen!

When we cook a meal for someone we are in essence sharing of ourselves; our time, our love, our creativity, our caring.

Entertaining is usually about spending time with people we care about and sometimes about trying to impress someone we feel we need to, like the boss or the in-laws. Regardless of the reason the result is the same, you are sharing of yourself.

So why not share who you REALLY are and how you REALLY eat? Look at it this way – if you were invited to a person’s home from Ethiopia, wouldn’t you get more from the experience if they served you a traditional meal than if they tried to make the food you eat everyday?  The same holds true for gluten-free, sharing the foods you eat and love will give the other person more of an experience of who you are and how you live than trying to feed them food they can get anywhere else.

My rules for entertaining are pretty simple, I prepare food I love with care and hope others will love it also, I keep it as simple as I can so I can actually enjoy my guests and I try to make everyone who enters my home feel special. I don’t try to be something I am not – like a gourmet French Chef, I just try to be the best of what I am. And you know what? It is enough!

So this isn’t a list of tips and how-tos, it is a mindset change– my hope is that if you are still bringing gluten into your home when you entertain that you will realize you don’t need to do that. If your diet is good enough for you, it is good enough for those you feed. After all, if you compare the food that has gluten in it to the food that doesn’t, you will see that the vast majority is naturally gluten-free. There really is an abundance of gluten-free food out there, so celebrate with it.

Since Oprah signed off for the final time yesterday I just figured you might need someone else to tell YOU that it really is OK to be YOURSELF, even in front of the boss or the in-laws!

On the flip side, if you are a gluten-eater and are entertaining someone who is gluten-free, that’s a different story. You DO need to provide gluten-free food for them to eat; it is a matter of health and safety.

If you need some easy, entertaining recipes here are just a few:

Roasted Shrimp with Wasabi Cocktail Sauce

Gluten Free Mini Crab Cakes

Mini Crab Cakes with Lime & Cilantro Aioli

Gluten Free Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Grown-Up Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Gluten Free Dairy Free Mexican Pumpkin Soup Dairy Free Mexican Pumpkin Soup

Berry Salad with Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese Balls Pistachio Berry Goat Cheese Salad

Gluten Free Manhattan Chicken Manhattan Chicken
London Broil with Onion Marmalade

Gluten Free Berry Pavlova Red, White & Blue Pavlova

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Enjoy your Gluten Free Diet!

xo,  Carol Kicinski


Simply...Gluten-Free DessertsSimply…Gluten-Free Desserts is now available, with over 135 recipes not featured in my blog.

Available at bookstores including Barnes & Noble, Borders, Powells, Books-a-Million and Amazon. You can get it also HERE.

“I can now have recipes I know I can count on for every Dessert and Breakfast occasion! I’m thrilled!” – A. M.

“I am amazed! This recipe is BETTER then the ‘regular-with-gluten’ recipe! Thanks so much, Carol” – V. P.

“I totally love your gluten free recipes - they have solved my love for desserts.” – F.R.

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Categories:    Entertaining

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy @ Celiacs in the House May 26, 2011 at 10:12 am

Such good advice, Oprah, I mean, Carol. We’re planning a graduation/18th birthday party and I’m taking this approach and also combing through your archives and cookbook for ideas–unless you want to come up to Ohio and do some catering

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Haha – I did a catering job once – emphasis on ONCE! It was so much work. They didn’t even ask for gluten free food and I didn’t tell anyone, they loved it! I am sure your bash will be amazing!!!

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Shirley @ gfe May 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

Carol, I fantasize about coming to your house one day for dinner! Seriously. :-) The mindset shift is by far the most important aspect in entertaining completely gluten free. Like you shared, I found that folks still raved over my food when I started serving them all gluten free food as much as they did before with gluten-full food. In fact, probably more so, because now instead of packaged rolls, they are gettig wonderful homemade popovers, cheese biscuits, and the like when I serve a “bread.” ;-) And like you said, they probably went home feeling much better than they normally did, but perhaps not fully getting why. Great post, dear! Who wouldn’t want to eat all those fantastic dishes that just happen to be gluten free?

xoxo,
Shirley

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Ah Shirley, you are welcome anytime! Thank you!

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Ricki May 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

Great post, Carol, and I couldn’t agree more! I always serve guests “the way I eat” these days. I don’t even tell them it’s gluten free, sugar free, etc. And so far, there’s never been anything but empty plates at the end of the meal! Just because you’re gluten free, doesn’t mean you can’t tell what tastes good. If it’s good enough for you and your family, OF COURSE it’s good enough to serve guests! And let me just say “WOW”–what an amazing spread in that top photo! I think every person who reads this post is dreaming of coming to your place for dinner. ;)

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thanks Ricki. Most people are so aware of my “gluten-freeness” that they know but I don’t make a big deal of it either. I just serve them food, and so far everyone seems to like it :)

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Tina @ madame gluten-free vegetarian May 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

Hi Carol,
I like your advice! My parents are coming for their first visit to our house since I went gluten-free, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the menu. In the end, I decided it would be just too stressful for me to be worrying about cross-contamination issues in my own home! Besides, I haven’t found anything that I used to cook or bake that doesn’t taste better gluten-free, anyway. I also think that people are curious about eating gluten-free, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to show them that we eat delicious, nutritious food everyday. Great post and beautiful pictures! :) Tina.

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Good luck Tina, I am sure your meal will be wonderful and enjoyed by all!

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Kim (Cook It Allergy Free) May 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Oh, this was so perfect! And I love the Oprah comment! Seriously, who is going to be the one to tell us that we are wonderful and then help us have our “Aha” moments?? Maybe you should step up and do a show of your own! ;) I love this list and I so wish I could be at your house eating that feast with you. I know every morsel of it would have been prepared with total love! xoxoxox

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I wish you were joining us for a meal too! I will happily tell the world how wonderful they are! And serve them gluten-free cupcakes to boot :)

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Alisa Fleming May 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Oh my word, who wouldn’t drool over those foods being served – gluten shmuten. I would be honored to be at a party at your house Carol and definitely wouldn’t expect a speck of gluten to be present!

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glutenfreeforgood May 26, 2011 at 5:04 pm

You crack me up. I’d listen to you any day over Oprah! And, I’d eat any gluten-free creation you put in front of me. Geez, look at these photos of yours! Who would complain that there’s no gluten involved. I’m absolutely addicted to wasabi, so I think I’ll try your roasted shrimp and cocktail sauce first. Followed (immediately) by the red, white and blue pavlova. You’re amazing!
Melissa
xo

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Ah, thank you Melissa. Enjoy!

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Lisa May 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

What a wonderful post!!!

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Carol Kicinski May 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Thanks Lisa!

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Maggie May 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Such great advice Carol. I think Oprah would be proud :) I recently had my first gluten-free party and no one even noticed! That was what I had hoped for! I really like your point about eating in Ethiopia. That was an “aha” moment for me. You’re so right. People are always so curious about our diet so why not share it with them in our home! Thank you Carol.

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Tia @ GGF May 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Another great post. I love the points you make. I only seem to let gluten in for BBQs because of the buns. I just don’t do buns myself, so I don’t go thru the effort for gluten free.

It’s funny because I remember my first Thanksgiving after going gluten free. It was the first time in years that I hadn’t been sick to my stomach. I always thought it was because I ate too much, but even when I would make the tiniest plate, I would still get sick. Now, I don’t get sick. It’s so nice.

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Jenny Davis Bussey December 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

And now that Udi’s has gf buns, I get those for me and my son and regular for everyone else, they are too expensive to serve to everyone.

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Carol Kicinski December 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I know what you mean!

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Heather @Gluten-Free Cat May 31, 2011 at 9:03 am

“I just try to be the best of what I am.” I think that’s the greatest mantra I’ve heard in a long time.

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Carol Kicinski May 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Ah, thanks Heather! It works for me :)

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Jodi December 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Since going gluten-free for my son, our whole family eats gluten-free, as do our dinner guests. I even made my mom make her gravy with cornstarch rather than flour when they were here & it was just fine. There are SO many times when my 10 year old has to deprive himself (those pizza & birthday cake parties are painful), I feel that he shouldn’t have to deprive himself when he is entertaining in his own home. His new holiday favorite, which he can make himself: GF pretzel turtles. We all prefer these to a dry Christmas cookie…

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Carol Kicinski December 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Yummy! It is horrible for a child to feel like they can’y just eat what everyone else is eating so good for you!

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Tracie December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Although I don’t necessarily disagree with your advice, I don’t serve guests gluten free food. Mainly, this is because I love to cook the foods I grew up with. I was diagnosed with celiac disease 5 years ago, so I spent my entire young life eating what everyone else eats. Growing up in an Italian family, there were some amazing foods that I truly miss. I don’t want to deny my extended family & friends those foods that I would never give up if I didn’t have to. Also, I am lactose intolerant. So, gluten free is not my only restriction. This would really hamper my food preparations! I usually make both gluten & dairy free options, and then “regular” food as well. It means more cooking, but I don’t mind. Also, gluten free foods tend to be very expensive, and preparing only gluten & dairy free foods for guests would triple my entertaining costs!

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Carol Kicinski December 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I completely understnad Tracie and for years I was just like you. It was a choice I made, it may not be the choice for everyone but it works for me. I am sure your guests and family are very happy!

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Janet Howe December 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I allow prepared foods with gluten in my home for my daughter and my husband who are not celiac: ie. cookies, crackers, breads, canned soup, frozen pizza and other frozen meals, etc. Anything that is baked or cooked from scratch is prepared gluten-free, whether I am entertaining or not. I never receive anything but compliments when I entertain guests with a gluten-free menu! After all, when you cook gluten-free, you are generally starting with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, so the results are bound to be delicious.

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Carol Kicinski December 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more Janet! Good food is good food, gluten free or not.

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Diane December 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm

This was my first Thanksgiving at home so I pulled out all the stops.. or rather, gluten free ingredients and had a feast… and… got to eat every spec. Including the apple cobbler for dessert. Just entered a Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser and my contrabution was a Filled French Brownie with fudge sauce on top… gluten free of course. When a number of friends sampled it first they came back for more. Love it. Gluten Free eating saved my life. This holiday season everything from the rum balls to the variety of chex mix recipes and the shortbread will be gluten free. Not just for me but for giving to others. It’s my daily way of life and I love sharing it with gf-newbies and mu gluten friends.

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Carol Kicinski December 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for piping in! I am with you – going gluten free has saved my life as well and it sounds like you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!

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Mike Warren April 23, 2012 at 4:05 am

LOL. I was looking for entertaining posts in Google and I came up here. Anyway food is also entertaining :D

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