“Whether your invitation is by a formal written invitation, an e-vite or a personal telephone call, asking for special dietary requirements makes you a welcoming host,” Turner said. “Be sensitive to guests, so many of whom have food allergies. This can include nut allergies, gluten-free needs and even dairy intolerance.”
Gluten is found in anything that contains wheat or closely related grains, such as barley and rye. At a Thanksgiving dinner, gluten is found in stuffing, crackers, cookies, pie crust, bread, rolls, cream-of-anything soups and French-fried onions contain wheat, just to name a few common foods.
Other food items, such as oats and nuts, are often processed on the same machines that process wheat. If a guest is particularly sensitive to gluten, be mindful of those food items that might not come to mind at first. Look at the ingredients listed on packages to see if foods contain wheat or may have traces of wheat in them. If stuffing will be served and you have a guest who can’t eat gluten, don’t cook the stuffing in the turkey; make and serve it separately.
Cline said stores are much better now at providing gluten-free options; she mentioned Macey’s as one location that has a gluten-free section. She also suggested making a pie or other dessert without the crust for those with gluten allergies.
Many stores also sell all-purpose/gluten-free flour mixes for those who want to bake gluten-free foods from scratch. Gluten-free graham crackers and gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies are also available at some stores, which can be used to make pie crusts.
For allergies in general, a nice option is to make an extra dish and leave an ingredient or two out of the mix. Cline sometimes makes individual cheese balls with varying ingredients. Some might contain nuts, others might have onions, and still others might contain pretzels. This way, there is bound to be at least one type of cheese ball everyone can eat.
When preparing food for guests with allergies, cross-contamination is always a possibility. Make sure to wash hands and work spaces thoroughly before preparing something for a guest with an allergy.
Guests with allergies might want to ask specific questions about the ingredients in various dishes, so be ready and willing to answer their questions. Keeping the packaging for ingredients used is a good idea too, as that allows the guests to view the contents themselves and determine whether or not they should eat different things.
HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATOES
Makes: 8 servings
6 to 8 medium sweet potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple and juice
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Makes: 40 servings
35 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2½ teaspoons salt
1¼ cup butter, melted
1 (100-ounce) can crushed pineapple and juice
1¼ cup brown sugar
5 teaspoons nutmeg
5 teaspoons cinnamon
Wash sweet potatoes well. Cook sweet potatoes on low boil until medium done, not soft. Let potatoes cool. Peel and slice, and then put them in a slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours.
— Sydney Cline, “Feeding the Masses”
Kaylene Morrill Wheeler is a freelance writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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