Catering for a coeliac at Christmas

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While every family is different, some Christmas traditions happen in every household.

Our favourite is, of course the big Christmas lunch! But what do you do if a family member can’t be as gluttonous as the rest of us?

Gluten-free has been a buzz phrase in the food world for quite some time now, and while your diet-fad daughter-in-law might be omitting the grains from her diet on the latest health crusade, some people may suffer from gluten intolerance, or worse Coeliac’s disease.

Coeliac’s disease is a gastrointestinal condition where a person cannot break down gluten properly; eating it causes damage to the small intestine, which can cause great discomfort and if ignored can lead to bigger health issues like bowel cancer.

Someone diagnosed with the disease should avoid the four main gluten products: wheat, barley oats and rye.

So, how do you create a Christmas banquet a Coeliac can celebrate?

With a few little tweaks and simple switches you can be sure nobody will miss out on the annual food coma!

The Pudding

Plum Pudding is the centrepiece of most Christmas Day gatherings, and luckily the traditional style recipe is very easily altered for everyone’s enjoyment.

Everything can remain the same except for your flour and breadcrumbs, which can be switched to gluten free varieties. Gluten free flour can be found in most supermarkets in the health food section, and while you don’t need much for the pud, it can come in handy in other areas you choose to accommodate your coeliac guest.

Gluten free breadcrumbs can be found in the same place, but why not buy a gluten free loaf and make them yourself? The left over loaf can be offered when everyone else reaches for the dinner rolls.

The Stuffing

Some love it, some can do without it, but no matter what side of the fence you sit on the stuffing is an integral part of any roast at Christmas.

Once again gluten free breadcrumbs can be used to help bind your recipe, and for any stock used, just check the label as you can buy gluten free stock for the same price as regular. If the stuffing can’t be altered for some reason, perhaps try to cook it separately so your guest can still enjoy the turkey!

Gravy and Sauces

A roast without gravy is like a knife without a fork; something is missing and your meal just won’t work the way it’s meant to.

If you’re making your gravy on the day, why not ask your coeliac friend to bring along a bit of flour so you can show them how you make the best gravy? Or if you want the cheats way out, products like Gravox have gluten free options for the same price as the regular product.

When it comes to sauces and meat marinades, looking over the ingredients on the back of packaging easily checks store bought ones. Australian consumer laws dictate any product with traces of gluten must be noted in the ingredients section – the potentially harmful ingredients will be in bold, and where it gives you disclaimers like ‘may contain nuts, etc.’ is where you will find if it is suitable or not.vegemite-label


Another option is to offer your special guest the chance to provide their own sauce for themselves or for everyone. If they are living with the disease chances are they have some pretty great recipes up their sleeve for the rest of your guests!

Make it easy for yourself

Just like a big game of backyard cricket on Christmas Day is incidental exercise between the beers and bubbly, some products you might already be considering are incidentally gluten free.

Roast vegetables are a table favourite and almost always safe, the Aussie dessert favourite Pavlova is also an easy offer for those unable to eat the cake or trifle. If you’re serving finger food and snacks, corn chips are usually harmless (just double check the back, or some will specify they are gluten free), as is most chocolate (except Lindt Balls and Ferrero Rochers. Sad face).

And the most important part? Wine and champagne are well and truly gluten free, so cheers!

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