Gluten-free Christmas

Gluten free mince pies

For many years I used to find the festive season unbearable because I couldn’t enjoy much of all the lovely food at parties and events because almost everything had gluten in them. Keeping to a gluten-free Christmas was a pretty gloomy and painful experience!

Over the last five years or so things have changed –  restaurants now cater for those on a gluten-free  diet, supermarkets and deli stores are full of gluten-free Christmas treats; even at parties they serve nibbles and snacks without any gluten. Of course this doesn’t mean that these products are more healthy – most of them are loaded with sugar and some of the ingredients provide an interesting chemistry lesson!

Because there used not to be much gluten-free on offer, particularly regarding puddings and sweet treats –  I’ve had to make my own food which meant lots of experimentation over the decade. Some of my creations went straight into the trash, some turned into a stone the next day –  but some have been surprisingly tasty, even healthy! Luckily,  gluten-free flour mixtures have improved too (although I still haven’t found a really good & easy gluten-free bread recipe).

So here is my guide to a Gluten-free Christmas

Gluten-free party food

I find that the hardest part during the silly season is going to parties and dinner parties. It’s not just the avoidance of obvious foods such as bread, mince pies, cookies and so on but even some of the sausages, salamis, crisps, chips, blini and sushi(!!) have gluten in them! So the best thing to do is to  stick to smoked salmon, prawns, Parma ham, cheeses  and veggies. You have to be careful with dips though –  hummus and taramasalata sometimes have gluten in them, so the cream cheese, yoghurt, sour-cream based ones are much safer. Baked potatoes & sweet potatoes, cold meats and coleslaw are normally fine.

Here are a few nibbles that I normally serve at my own parties (most of them are dairy-free too):

These gluten-free fritters make an excellent base for toppings such a smoked salmon, Parma ham, chutneys and cheeses, or use them for dips:

These dishes are wonderful to share:

Gluten-free Christmas Dinner

Christmas Roast

Actually, roast dinner is a pretty safe meal for those on a gluten-free diet. Whilst roast Turkey and other meats tend to be gluten-free, the gravy almost always has flour in it – so use (or ask your host to use) corn-flour/cornstarch instead. Obviously bread-sauce must be avoided, but all the other trimming should be fine (roast potatoes, veggies, cranberry sauce etc). You have to be careful with the stuffing too – make it with gluten-free breadcrumbs or avoid it if you’re a guest at a dinner party. Same goes for pigs-in-blankets – most of those mini sausages have gluten in them!

Starters

Starters should be easy. Go for a salad (smoked salmon, cray-fish, prawn, goat’s cheese based) or a festive soup. Here are a few delicious recipes:

Christmas puddings & desserts

This is the hardest part, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. It’s so easy to make gluten-free brownies, truffles, cakes- cupcakes these days! Of course most custards, meringues, ice-cream, chocolate mousse don’t have any gluten. Also, home-made trifles, cheese cakes can easily be made with gluten-free cookies. Here are some wonderful gluten-free recipes suitable for Christmas:

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