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Is a Celiac Coming to Dinner?

One of the hardest things about being Celiac is watching my friends and family struggle with it.
The people in my life are so sweet and eager to make something I can eat. The ladies in our church bible study group all have made the effort to learn what I can and cannot have and all of them go out of their way to adjust the goodies they serve.
I really don’t expect people to do that, but I embrace it as an expression of their love and am deeply touched.

I thought maybe I would share just a few tips for those of you who feel lost about what you can or cannot offer when a Celiac comes to visit!

So here’s my list of things you should know:

The basics - It is the grains Wheat, Barley and Rye that contain the gluten protein that causes the immune system of Celiacs to react by destroying the villa in the small intestine! Untreated Celiac leads to cancer, and other autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Celiacs do not have an allergy or intolerance to gluten...they have an autoimmune disease which has no cure but is totally controlled by avoided ALL gluten.
NOTE - Although oats do not have gluten, they are grown in alternating crops with wheat, so there is cross contamination. Gluten-free oats are now available made from oats grown in virgin fields. ‘Only Oats’ is one label.

1. Some Celiacs are more sensitive than others…..but it takes a very tiny amount of food with gluten in it to make them sick. So cross contamination is a very serious consideration. You would never cut a slice of gluten-free bread on a cutting board that you just used for regular bread. Wiping it isn’t good enough.. it needs to be washed with a good scrub. Some things like colanders where reg. pasta is strained, even WITH washing can have traces of gluten stuck to them. So make sure that you use utensils from the dish washer in preparing gluten-free food.

2. Celiacs appreciate fruit, vegetables, cheese - the things that are obviously gluten-free. Rice crackers are fine… (I never buy them anymore because I’m sick of them .. but that way I’m OK with eating them when I am served them at someone else’s home) Rice cakes are good used as a ‘pizza bun’ substitute.

3. I think I speak for most Celiacs that we prefer ‘real’ food to most “gluten-free” substitutes. If we still remember what real food tastes like, the substitute is at best tolerable or worse ! smile… The good news is that there are more and more better-tasting products out there making the options much more palatable.
Making your favourite dinner recipes with minor adjustments is great ! That way everyone is happy! But be sure to read the labels on all your ingredients…. Gluten can be lurking anywhere and DOES !!!

4. Be careful with gravies and sauces. Thicken them with cornstarch or sweet rice flour. There is now a new gluten-free product called 'Thicken Thin’ that is great !

5. Watch your recipes with canned soups. Almost all canned soups have gluten in them.
Soya sauce has gluten. There is a Gluten-free Soya sauce that you can buy in the USA but I have not found one in Canada. Some bullion cubes are gluten-free but not all. Spices and flavourings can have gluten. Anything with ‘malt’ flavouring is glutened – malt is made from barley - so cereals, like corn flakes or rice crispies are out. Nature Path has a gluten-free cornflakes sold in most grocery stores.

6. Gluten-free mixes are readily available now .... that allow you to make a dessert - cakes, cookies or muffins, quite easily.

I would like to encourage some of you long-time Celiacs or those of you living with Celiacs who have other helpful hints please express them in the comment section and I will transfer them (with credit to you !) to this post .. making it a resource for people nervous about having Celiacs come to visit !


  1. Excellent post, Julie. You expressed the joys and frustrations very well! I like that you have added this element to this lovely blog.

    If you'd like, please stop by my cooking blog as well. Most of my recipes are gluten-free and you might find something you like there as well. It's at: .

    Not everything there is gluten-free, but most is.

    Thanks for sharing the message that there is hope after a celiac diagnosis!


  2. Julie, thanks for this very informative post. I so appreciate that you take time to 'rework' some of the recipes posted here to be gluten free. I am learning so much by listening to your discussions with us and by watching how you substitute in the recipes themselves. It truly does give 'hope' as La Tea Dah said....and one can still prepare foods for the whole family to enjoy. Like something I encountered the other just changes their frame of reference in approaching cooking. It can be done. Thanks...I hope others that read this can contribute, as you suggested, some ideas and tips.

  3. Great Post! So far I don't know anyone with Celiac, but I know how good it is when people are informed.
    When I was diagnosed with Diabetes 12 years ago, not a lot of people knew what to make for me.

  4. Thank you for some good information! Sometimes it is hard to know what to do . . . you want all of your guests to be able to enjoy the meal, but you don't want to make them feel out of place either. There must be a sensitive balance.

  5. Thank you for the gluten free recipes and hints, it all helps. The following is a link I found recently and the crust is quite good, I am not sure if you have a favorite one or not but this is quite good and is easy, which always helps ;-)

    The above is a link for a great gluten free pizza crust; contrary to the picture it does get brown and ordinary looking. VH Soya sauce is gluten free according to them when I called most of their products are. You can check again. Check with the Canadian Celiac Assoc., they should be able to help you locate something in your area. All the best!

  6. that was super info.
    we have people in our life with this disease so we have learned alot already. i have always bought soya sauce from the health food store. they claim to be gluten free, not sure what the product is since i don't have it in the fridge right now. thanks for posting this, more and more people seem to be getting this.

  7. What an awesome post, Julie! It does take a little bit of research to be able to host someone with celiacs, and sometimes a simple replacement will make the meal good for the whole crowd. Thanks again!

  8. Wow, I did not know too much about Celiac disease, but my daughter is diabetic and they want to do a screening test for Celiac on her. The dr. said diabetics have an increased chance of developing Celiac. Great post!

  9. I really enjoyed reading your post, julie! I am celiac as well and you have captured the basics of celiac 101 very well :) I agree that cross-contamination is the most important concern when cooking in a kitchen that is shared with wheat. Even cutlery drawers should be cleaned regularly to avoid crumbs and toasters should never be shared.

    A great GF soy sauce is called Bragg and comes in a spray bottle too. Bobs Red Mill makes my favourite pre-made cake and cookie mixes and Glutino makes a tasty muffin mix.

    I think that if a celiac is coming to dinner, you can be assured that you will be eating very healthy!

  10. I forgot to mention that not all rice crackers are gluten free, so be careful if you plan to buy them for someone who is celiac. I recently found a box of rice crackers where the first ingredient was wheat!

    Besides the obvious gluten containing grains (wheat, rye and barley) most celiac/gluten websites will list other dangerous ingredients to watch out for such as malt. Note that maltodextrin (found in everything from yogurt to potato chips) is a popular ingredient that could be made from corn or wheat. New food labeling regulations in Canada require this important fact to be disclosed.

  11. oh how wonderful to hear from so many that appreciate this post. I well recall the time I had you for lunch, the first time I did not know you were celiac and was thankful for the pot of soup in the fridge but the second time, I surely would have appreciated this advice.

  12. Nicely written! This can be such a challenge for non-gluten free folks!!

  13. Great Post.
    Living with a Celiac, but being a CarbHound, i can tell you first hand how difficult it is sometimes.

    Our motto when cooking "when in doubt, leave it out" works very well.

  14. This post is from: A Year of CrockPotting. This site has a lot of gluten-free recipes. Sorry, I don't know how to put her link in here.
    Stumbled onto your site tonight & am very excited to make tons of the recipes found here. Thanks ladies for sharing!!
    Blessings 2 you all.. Cheryl

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008
    Perfect Homemade Stuffing CrockPot Recipe

    Day 317.

    I am so excited I can hardly stop squirming. I grew up on Stove Top stuffing, and was pretty sure I'd never make or come across a gluten-free stuffing that didn't make me want to hurl. (not a very nice image early in the morning, but seriously. The idea had pretty much just been stricken from my imagination.)

    Until a few weeks ago and I began planning Thanksgiving-y crockpot recipes and I figured the Internet needed a crockpot stuffing recipe, and if I was going to make one, it'd have to be gluten free, so I might as well just give it a go.

    I did it. Yesterday.

    and it's good! and I'm not even exaggerating or lying or anything!


    If you're not gluten-free, go ahead and use your favorite sliced sandwich bread, or a loaf of french bread.

    The Ingredients.

    --1 loaf of bread, lightly toasted in the oven (I used the pink bag of Food Life brown rice bread)
    --1 large yellow onion, diced
    --1 cup celery, diced
    --1 cup tart apple, peeled and diced
    --1/4 cup butter, melted
    --1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    --1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (and maybe 1/4 cup later if needed)
    --1 T ground sage
    --1 tsp ground marjoram
    --1/2 tsp savory
    --1/2 tsp thyme
    (if you have poultry seasoning in the house, use 1 tablespoon and omit these spices.)
    --1 tsp salt
    --1 tsp pepper

    The Directions.

    I used a 6 quart crockpot. I'd recommend a big guy, so you have room to toss. If you only have a 4 quart, toss everything well in a very large mixing bowl, then put into your crockpot.

    Toast the bread slices in the oven at 300 degrees. I needed to keep the brown rice bread in for about 30 minutes before it was all toasty. Regular bread will toast much quicker, be aware.

    While the bread is toasting, chop up the onion, parsley, celery, and apple. Add to crockpot. Add the seasoning, and add melted butter. Stir well.

    When the bread is done, cut into 1/2 inch size-or-so cubes.

    Add to the crockpot.

    Toss very well with the butter, chopped vegetables, and spices. When the bread is coated nicely, pour in 1 1/2 cups of broth.

    Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Sweep up the bread crumbs.

    When finished, the bread will have browned a bit on the top and around the edges, and it will be hot throughout. It can stay on warm for probably another 2 hours before serving, if needed. Stir. If you'd like it a bit more moist, you can add a 1/4 cup more (or as much as you desire) of broth.

    If you'd like to start the day ahead---you can do the bread cubes, and seal in zipper bags, and chop the vegetables and keep separate. Combine as directed the day of your dinner.

    The Verdict.

    Amazing. In a blind taste-test, I'd never guess this was made with gluten-free bread. Holy toledo.
    My kids don't really like stuffing, but they tried it to be nice.

  15. Hi,
    just wanted to mention that Rice Chex are gluten free now (marked on the box in big letters!)and Betty Crocker now has gluten free brownie, cookie and cake mix in our local stores.

  16. Thank you for your tips on serving celiacs... it has been very helpful. I did want to mention that China Lily Soy Sauce does not have wheat in it, as most others do.

  17. This post came into my view just in time. I'm having a friend over for lunch this week who has celiac, and was trying to figure out what to do. This gives me great guidance. Thank you!

  18. Thank you so much for all your recipes and sharing your struggles with celiac disease. I'm not celiac, but I am on a specialized diet because of allergies (no dairy, white sugar, white flour, refined products, etc.) I use Spelt flour for baking, but it has quite a heavy texture, so I'm excited to try your recipes. Do you have any recipes for gluten free zwieback? I'd love it if you do - I appreciate the time you take to modify recipes as I've had to learn to modify certain recipes as well (I usually give up after trying to modify a recipe twice because of my two boys (15 months apart, ages 3 and 2) So kudos to you for all your hard work!!!!

  19. Hi, thank you for posting this. I have a problem that wasn't cited however. I have a relative with a child who has celiac. I provided scones, pie shells, cookies, pizza, etc. that were gluten free and I was basically met with contempt. My other relatives virtually ignored this child's dietary needs and it seems their approach was preferred. Can you explain this? Maybe they just didn't want the extra effort.

  20. Dear Anonymous... I can't understand why your efforts would not have been appreciated. I have not had that experience. I hate to say it but it seems to me that their attitude is one of selfishness, not wanting to make any effort outside their own comfort zone!
    I'm sure the child appreciated your efforts and I think its the child that counts!

  21. Julie,

    I try to let people know which spices, sauces, salad dressings, and condiments are gluten free. Many people mistakenly think that gluten-free food has to be bland, without any condiments and spices. Even gravy can be made with cornstarch instead of wheat flour. Sweet rice flour thickens a gravy beautifully. Maybe a gift to to the hostess of a gluten-free flour (prior to the dinner, of course) would be a good idea. Many people complain of the cost of these GF flours, but many of them are only a few dollars a pound!

    Take care,


  22. I stumbled on your blog looking for gluten free comfort food. There are very few foods I even miss but platz is one of them. I can't wait to try the recipe!

    I just wanted to add, when baking for a Celiac check your baking powder. Blue Ribbon definitely has gluten in it.

    Thanks for the site!

  23. My husband has Celiac disease which we found out about almost a year ago.

    We have tried most gluten free products. We find it's easier, cheaper, tastier, and more nutritious to cook with whole real food rather than packaged processed food. Processed gluten free foods typically cost three times as much as "regular" processed foods.

    I use Bob's Red Mill GF pancake mix for most recipes, gravies, and sauces that need a thickener. It has a variety of flours and the leavening provides a little boost as a thickener. The pancakes are not too bad, either. Cornstarch is also a main stay.

    We actually enjoy pasta made from corn. Brown rice pasta is yucky and no one should be forced to eat it.

    You can order corn pasta and other gluten free products from Amazon and it's cheaper than the health food store. You have to order in quantity, but fortunately these products have a long shelf life.

    Hope this helps someone! I have a feeling that it's a life-long learning process.


  24. Tamari soy sauce (a Japanese type of soy sauce) is often gluten free, if you can find it. Although you do need to watch out - Tamari marinades can contain wheat!

  25. I just found your blog and am enjoying the gluten free recipes. I already have the basics, but can always improve on them.
    I found San-J gluten free soy sauce in Zehrs the other day - I bought two! it even looks like soy sauce.


  26. I have a host of gluten-free recipes on my blog. Feel free to browse!

  27. Hi there! I am thoroughly enjoying your site with all the fantastic gluten free recipes and interesting comments and feedback. I love the OnlyOats products - they are produced right here in Saskatchewan! I also enjoy using Braggs - it is very much like soya sauce, but has much less sodium. I was diagnosed last year and have found it challenging to adapt my diet. THere are starting to be more options out there so I can enjoy my carbs again (mmmm cinnamon buns, bread, pizza....)

    Keep up the great work!

  28. Great site, an appreciating the recipes and info. I'm always on the lookout for good GF recipes my 9 year old son can help make!

    BTW Bragg's Aminos are the wheat free soy sauce, it's available in Canada.

    Also, we recently found out (the hard way) that Smarties candies contain wheat flour...we didn't think to look on the label of candy coated chocolate! Also, some unlabelled bulk candies can be made with glucose syrup from wheat.

  29. Whilst Smarties do have wheat in them, happily (not for me...) M&Ms are wheat free - not nut free though, I miss Smarties and don't like M&Ms as they taste way too much like peanuts.


  30. Ohh yes.. Smarties are glutened - but M & M's are gluten-free!

  31. I've been really happy with the recipes in my old standby "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" by Bette Hagman (RIP, lovely lady!)

    I make the Oregon (think prairie) bread every week in my bread machine...I have a "breadman" machine that has its own GF setting! As you can tell from some of the great pictures on this site, the dough often comes out more like a batter, so the treatment of the dough is unique to GF doughs; which means the GF setting kneads for less time and it's come out great every time.

    Now I need to try some of the recipes on this site! Looks delicious! Thanks for the great resource, Mennonite ladies!

  32. This week I decided to bake one of my favorite cakes, a banana cake made with bread crumbs, instead of flour. I ran to the store, and bought two packs of industrialized bread crumbs, once I didn't have any in the house. What I only found out after the dough was mixed, was that the company that produced the bread crumbs, had made a huge mistake, and filled bread crumb packages with manioc flour, which looks very similar to bread crumbs. Once the batter was already mixed, I pushed two pans into the oven, and waited for the result. As soon as it was done, I pushed a piece into my husband's mouth, and he said it was good (I didn't try it myself, because i'm trying to live sugarfree - quite a challenge). Next morning I took one of the pans to work, to share with my fellow teachers, and came home with an empty pan. Only later that day I realized that it had turned out a gluten-free recipe, so I thought I'd share it with you, once I'm a reader of MGCC, and a mennonite girl myself.

    Manioc-banana cake

    3 cups manioc flour (coarsely ground, not the starch)
    3 cups sugar
    4 large bananas
    4 eggs
    1/2 cup oil
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1 tablespoon baking powder

    In the blender, mix bananas, eggs, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon.
    In a bowl, measure manioc flour, sugar, and baking powder.
    Pour the banana-eggs mixture over the dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon. I don't even bother to use the hand mixer. Pour into a rectangular pan and bake for aprox. 40-45 minutes, or after passing the toothpick test. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. This cake has a rich, moist, and heavy texture, even when it is made according to the original recipe, using bread crumbs instead of manioc.

  33. Thank you. My uncle (who I rarely see) has celiac disease, but I found out recently that my dad is possibly on his way to having it. (Mom says that the pictures of my uncle before he was diagnosed and the way my dad looks now are identical.)

    P.S. My Word Verification was "bakeric". I don't know what it means, but the "baker" part is SO appropriate for this blog.

    I found this blog through Tipnut, and LOVE IT! As you can see, I've made my way back to November 2008, gathering recipes. I'm going all the way back to the beginning, then putting you on my RSS Feeder.

    Fantastic recipes, ladies!

  34. I just wanted to let you know, I just checked San-J's website and you can buy their Wheat Free Soy Sauce at many places in Canada. (the labels are changing to Gluten Free so you might see that) Their GF products are certified.

  35. When I was taking psychology courses in College, my professor instructed us never to refer to a person AS their disease. A person HAS a disease. Therefore someone who suffers from Schizophrenia should not be described AS a schizophrenic. This way of labelling people robs them of their identity as individuals outside of that disease.

    Living with Celiac disease is a huge part of life for those of you who suffer from it, however I don't think you should DEFINE yourselves by your disease. I would encourage you to say you HAVE Celiac disease rather than saying you ARE Celiac.

    Just a thought...

  36. Hi Carmela... I agree.. a person should not be defined by a disease. I would never say a Cancer is coming to dinner...
    I think it is for this very reason that I -and those in my circle of fellow Celiacs- prefer to say we are Celiac -- is because that defines our diet, like saying we are vegetarian. To have to continually explain that we have Celiac disease really keeps the focus on the 'disease' both for ourselves and others. I prefer to keep the focus on my 'diet' restrictions which keep me HEALTHY!!
    Fellow Celiacs .. do you agree? or disagree?

  37. small comment- a diabetic coming to dinner, a blind person coming to dinner, and an autistic child coming to dinner are all things you have to take into account when you feed people.

    I know a lot of the online community call themselves celiacs- I think that what you call yourself is your choice. but if you just say "brian is bringing a friend to dinner"... your needs wont even TRY to be met, as your hosts dont know they exist!

    I wanted to add a few places to be aware of gluten-
    gum (packaging and processing)
    stamp adhesive
    tea bag glue (yes! really!)
    cigarette rolling papers (sorry, I am healthier than that, but people who do smoke should know!)

    as people with celiac disease get older, other foods frequently leave the "safe list". usually, the first few are:
    eggs, milk, lemon, rice, and beans
    all the things you grasp on to once you get the celiac diagnosis! a lot of doctors believe a rotation diet (ex:only eat a food every four days) can help delay this reaction, but generally, "leaky gut" syndrome has you start watching the acidity and alkalinity of your foods.
    good luck all!

  38. What about the cross contaminated condiments at someones house. I have been met with,"I made a potoatoe salad. Your boys can eat potatoes right?" Knowing in the back of my mind that while this person put thought and effort into making something "safe" for our family, they have been contaminating their mayo with gluten bread and now it is in the salad....

  39. I prefer to say I have celiacs disease. To be called celiac doesn't feel right to me, and seems like it defines who I am.

  40. Hi Sherrianne... I respect your feelings and understand your point! Thank you for taking the time to share it.

  41. thanks for such a great resource in your gluten free
    recipes. I especially love the Eesy Cheesy Buns.

    One thing non-celiacs have trouble understanding
    is that we can't serve gluten free food on the
    same plate as food containing gluten. It seems so
    obvious to us celiacs, but others can't seem to
    understand how gluten transfers over from one
    bun to another.We order a salad and the server tops
    it with a nice warm piece of garlic toast! We seem so fussy - but we persevere, knowing how good it feels to be healthy.


  42. I am a Celiac. I am also a Belly Dancer, a Martial Artist, a Woman, a Forester ... while none of these things individually defines me, they are all part of who I am. And I'm OK with all of them.

    Thanks for this post, I may refer a few friends to it.

    A few points to add or clarify:

    Spelt and Kamut are also glutinous grains, ones that fool people sometimes.

    Due to being undiagnosed celiac, we often have other food allergies as well. Just because it is gluten free, doesn't mean it is "safe" for us - although 99.9% of us honestly do appreciate you trying!

    Now, a question - does anyone have a good web site that suggests which non glutinous flours work best with which types of foods? (eg brown rice for pizza crust, sweet rice for cookies, chestnut for stews ...)

  43. VH makes gluten free soy sauce available in Canada (or at least they did at the time of this comment)

  44. My wife Joy has MS and has gone for the CCSVI treatment and she has found that MS people are allergic to Gluten and Dairy. She feels much better when she eats rice flour products.

  45. China Lily soy sauce is gluten-free. The starch that it says it contains is cornstarch and the caramel is processed in Canada so it is safe as well. :)

  46. I was told that China Lily is gluten-free as well.
    The starch in it is cornstarch and as long as the caramel is processed in North America it is safe as well.

  47. My husband found out just a few days ago that he needs to go gluten free. It's been a very overwhelming few days! I went to my MGCC cookbook and made a list of the gluten-free recipes---my husband is eager for me to try several. I have a couple clarifying questions, is tapioca flour and starch the same or two different things? Also, is potato starch flour the same as potato starch? Oh, it's all so confusing when you're starting out--there's so much to know and I needed to know it all yesterday! Any help would be appreciated!

  48. It is overwhelming at first ... but don't despair ! It is getting easier all the time to 'live' with Celiac !
    Yes .. tapioca starch and tapioca flour is the exact same thing ..
    BUT potato flour is VERY different from potato starch .. so be careful with that. Potato flour is rather a heavy flour ... and potato starch is a light starch.
    I know - its confusing ... but its important to learn the difference - and then not forget ! so tapioca is the same ... potato different!

  49. Thank you, thank you, thank you! For being here!

    Gentle hugs,

  50. awwwww..... "Auntie" .. a BIG hug back to you ! We love having you!

  51. I have 2 apps for my phone that make shopping so much is called GF Living and list every ingredient imaginable with just a simple check or X ...helps when reading a food label and another called Is that Gluten Free that list by brand name.... huge helps in shopping.

  52. Thanks for this blog. I realize that is now 2014, long past the date you wrote this. I really appreciated the fact that you clarified celiac disease is not an allergy. I never make a mistake in my own diet but am lying on the couch with symptoms of being glutenized and do not know why. I really appreciate your comments about cross contamination, since I think that is what happened to me.

  53. Quite an old post, but still totally relevant! Couple of things I've found in the past few years - find your local Asian grocers. Indian, Vietnamese, Thai , Chinese, etc. Their supplies of rice flours are substantially cheaper and more varied than most mainstream grocers. The varieties of soy sauce in some larger Asian stores will astound \bewilder. Vietnamese soy success in particular are far more flavorful than basic Kikoman style sauces, and can be both vegetarian and gf. Their varieties of rice noodles are fantastic and can be adapted to a wide array of daily meals. In Canada these types of grocery stores should not be that difficult to find. If you're ever in morals take a ride to United Noodle and be prorated to be totally confused by 30 feet of soy sauces, rice products, spices, teas, etc etc... ;)


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