More and more people are avoiding gluten in their diets. Whether they have been diagnosed with Coeliac disease or have non-coeliac gluten-intolerance, chances are you know someone who falls into this category. But what do you serve your gluten-free guests when they come over for a meal?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale (a wheat and rye hybrid) and oats. There are many obvious foods which contain gluten, such as bread, cakes and pasta, but there are also a whole range of ingredients which can come from a gluten source.

Foods that are avoided by coeliacs or people that are gluten-intolerant include:

• Wheat and rye breads, including sour-dough breads
• Cereals based on wheat, oats, barley and rye, including cous cous and semolina
• Regular pasta (including gnocchi) and other wheat noodles (eg instant noodles, hokkein noodles and soba noodles)
• Biscuits and crackers made from wheat, rye and oat flour
• Regular cakes, pastries, pizza dough and pancakes
• Wheat flour, breadcrumbs, batters
• Malted products (eg. malt vinegar, malted milk)
• Beer, stout, ale, lager

Other foods that may contain gluten and should be avoided include:

• Cornflour and baking powder if made from wheat (pure cornflour is okay)
• Stock powder, stock cubes, booster, gravy (gluten-free Gravox is okay)
• Soy sauce (Tamari is similar and is a good gluten-free substitute)
• Seasoning mixtures (eg steak seasoning, chicken salt, curry powder),
• Commercial bottled sauces, relishes, chutney, curry pastes, marinades
• Mayonnaise and other similar dressings
• Processed meat products such as sausages and smallgoods
• Flavoured varieties of potato crisps, corn chips and rice crackers
• Soft icing sugar & icing sugar mixture
• Custard powder and ready-made custards
• Ice-cream

If in doubt, check the label – The Australian Foods Standards require that ingredients derived from gluten containing grains must always be declared on food labels.

Despite the restrictions, a person with coeliac disease can still enjoy a wide and varied diet. The following foods (in their natural, unprocessed state) are gluten free:

• Meat, poultry, fish and eggs
• Fresh fruit and vegetables
• Milk, natural yoghurt and cheese
• Rice, rice noodles, corn, polenta, lentils and millet
• Single ingredient herbs and spices, salt and pepper
• Gluten free breads, pastas, cereals, biscuits and crackers, bread, cakes, biscuits, pancakes and pizza mixes

When planning your menu, fresh and home-made is definitely the way to go. Avoid processed food and ensure your sauces and dressings are made from fresh ingredients, so you know exactly what has gone into them.

Here are some safe suggestions to serve your gluten-free guests:

• Home-made dips served with rice crackers (check the label to ensure they are gluten-free)
• Grilled or roasted meat, chicken, fish or seafood. Avoid flour or gravy in sauces
• Risotto (check that bought stock is gluten-free, otherwise use home-made)
• Stir-fries or curries with rice or rice noodles (check the ingredients on sauce labels and avoid soy sauce)
• Polenta, mashed potato, lentils
• Salads (with home-made dressings, avoiding malt vinegar)
• Desserts – fresh fruit, flourless cakes, pavlova, rice-puddings

The life’s a feast Cooking School runs a Gluten-Free Entertaining Class where participants will create a beautiful meal without gluten but with all the taste, as well as learn gluten-free cooking tips. A gift certificate to this class makes a wonderful gift for your gluten-free friends. Our next Gluten-Free Entertaining class will be held on Friday 14th August from 10am – 2pm. Click here for more information.

meals like this Thai Prawn Curry with Mango are suitable for your gluten-free guests
Meals like this Thai Prawn Curry are suitable for your gluten-free guests

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  1. Thanks, Gail for this usuful information!! I just was thinking about gluten free food. Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Sophie, glad you found the gluten-free article useful. It’s good to know that gluten-free food can still be tasty and appetising.

  3. What a great article! I have a friend with a daughter that may need a gluten free diet. It can be rather overwhelming, and your article is well written and concise. Best, Emily

  4. Glad you enjoyed the article, Emily. Yes a gluten-free diet can be overwhelming at first, but once you know what you can and can’t eat it’s really easy.

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