December 16, 2023

The holiday season is made extra special with quality time and delicious food shared with family and friends! However, hosting can come with its own set of challenges – especially if you are inviting guests with food allergies. So, what do you need to know about navigating the holidays when it comes to guests following a gluten-free diet? Let’s start by breaking down the basics of what exactly gluten is and how you can help gluten-free guests coming to your holiday celebration.

Gluten isn’t as scary as it may seem – it is simply a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and a wheat-rye hybrid called triticale. It helps provide elasticity and structure to many of our favorite baked goods but can also be found in a myriad of products on store shelves. Gluten can cause discomfort or even serious health issues in people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. But what is the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which an autoimmune response causes damage in the small intestine when gluten is consumed. An individual with a gluten intolerance may experience many of the same symptoms as someone with celiac disease, but there is no damage that occurs in the small intestine. Also, while there are tests to detect celiac disease, there are no diagnostic measuring tools to diagnose a gluten intolerance.

How can you make guests who are following a gluten-free diet more comfortable at your holiday gathering? Thoroughly wash all dishes, serving utensils, cookware, etc., when preparing and serving gluten-free dishes. This is because those with celiac disease can be impacted by cross contamination. So, if you commonly prepare items containing gluten in your kitchen and you are even serving other dishes that contain gluten at the party, be sure to give those dishes and surfaces an extra scrub! It could also be helpful to label dishes and let guests know what options are gluten-free so they can freely serve themselves.

Now that you’re ready to host, let’s talk sweet and savory baked treats that all party guests can enjoy – even those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance! Starting with sweet – I recommend Sweet Loren’s ready-to-bake cookie dough. These sweet treats are not only gluten-free but dairy-free, peanut- and tree nut-free. Sweet Loren’s even offers select varieties that have 40% less sugar than other leading national brands but that still satisfy your sweet tooth. For guests preferring savory, common pantry staples like the gluten-free ChexTM Cereals come in handy! Gluten-free ChexTM Cereals are made with whole grains and fortified with key vitamins and minerals and make a great base for a snack mix.

I recommend whipping together this crowd-pleasing party snack in advance. It’s perfect to serve as guests are arriving at your holiday gathering or enjoy as an on-the-go snack while traveling to your holiday destination! To satisfy their sweet tooth, it’s easy to keep a package of Sweet Loren’s ready-to-bake cookie dough on hand to throw in the oven just before guests arrive. Everyone loves a warm cookie!

Gluten-Free Original ChexTM Party Mix
Makes 22 servings

All You Need:
4 cups Corn ChexTM
4 cups Rice ChexTM
2 cups CheeriosTM
2 cups bite-size gluten-free pretzel sticks or twists
6 tbsp vegan dairy-free buttery vegetable oil spread
2 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp gluten-free seasoned salt
¾ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder

All you do:

  1. Heat oven to 250°F.
  2. In large bowl, mix cereals and pretzels until well blended. In small microwavable bowl, microwave vegetable oil spread uncovered on High 30 to 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated. Transfer to ungreased roasting pan.
  3. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe source:
If you’re ready to take a deeper dive when it comes to navigating a gluten-free diet, check out our On-Demand Virtual Gluten-Free Nutrition Tour! It’s complimentary and you receive access to the recorded tour immediately after registering. Register for your on-demand tour today: This content was made possible with the sponsored support of our sponsors General Mills Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition & Sweet Loren’s. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.