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We recently hosted a dinner party for seven people. These were the specs:

2 Gluten Free

2 Vegetarians

1 Pescatarian

I served ice water. Actually I served homemade pasta sauce over gluten free noodles with a green side salad and fresh berries with almond milk for dessert. I cooked up some shrimp on the side and added it to the pasta sauce for those of us who don’t mind eating something that had a face while we shovel it into our own faces. My guests brought complimentary dishes like gluten free rolls, brussel sprouts that had been processed into losing all their identity as brussel sprouts, and delicious cookies. I must say it was a pretty good meal.

The aspect of this hosting experience I’m highlighting today is the Gluten free guest. For this post I spoke to the proprietor of AnnaB’s Gluten Free bakery in the Richmond, Virginia area I will refer to her as GF.

It’s fair to say there is some confusion about gluten. Is avoiding it just a fad? Is it a real health concern? Is it potentially dangerous? The answer is yes. GF explained there are basically three types of gluten free eaters: those who believe gluten is inherently bad for humans and choose to avoid it; those who have sensitivity to gluten and develop stomach or headaches; and those who have Celiac disease.  GF discovered her daughter had Celiac disease after she failed to thrive as a young child. For those diagnosed with Celiac disease, eating gluten is like eating a slow-acting poison. “It is an autoimmune disease,” says GF. “The gluten protein in wheat, barley, and rye (Oats are included because of cross contamination with wheat) inflames the small intestine which stops the absorption of nutrients. If you don’t follow the diet there are serious consequences including cancer.” For more information, Google it! I’m not a doctor you know.

What’s a hostess to do? GF says most people/parents affected by Celiac travel with their own food and food prep necessities. “There is no need to ask a host to retrofit their kitchen,” says GF. “Reynolds wrap is your friend. Things can be grilled or baked using it. Paper plates work great. I’ve been known to take pots and pans with me.” In other words, someone with this disease is used to fending for themselves. However, there are some things a host shouldn’t do: don’t take it personally if your guest brings their own food; don’t bring attention to it; and don’t accuse the person/parent of being a “fussy eater”. This actually happened to a Celiac patient I know whose mother-in-law ostracized her at the family’s beach week because she was being a “diva” about the food they served. Where is a good rip tide when you need one? “Oh dear, Mother Gilbert is being carried out to sea…what shall we do? Let’s throw her this giant hoagie roll and some donuts!”

Regarding the second two types of gluten free diets; those who chose not to eat gluten, and those who have a sensitivity to it. It’s always nice for a host to inquire in advance, but it is the responsibility of the guest to speak up about any and all dietary restrictions. I have actually heard more than one person say something like, “I can’t believe they served chicken salad! Don’t they know I’m on a low-cholesterol diet!” Listen, unless you’re staying with Carnac the Magnificent, get over yourself. Perhaps you’d like to take a little swim in the ocean with Mrs. Gilbert?

If forewarned, I think it is reasonable for the host to provide a gluten free option at each meal. It’s not that tough and it might be a good learning experience. If you want to provide an entire meal GF recommends, “Baked chicken with potatoes and carrots is a winner here. Or baked pork chops, potatoes, and applesauce.” Mmmm, sounds good.  “Gluten free has come a long way,” says GF. “There are many more options now in grocery stores and at restaurants.”

Those options include items from Anna B’s Gluten Free bakery, including the yummy muffin featured above I thank the proprietors for helping me with today’s blog.

Thank you for visiting,


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