Gluten…Isn’t That The Muscle Under My Butt?

We all know the sheer horror when we invite new friends or business associates to our home for dinner. Some Domestic Square Pegs stress over what to serve, how to set the table, or what to talk about.

Add special dietary restrictions and it could send us right over the edge – and to the phone canceling the evening with a sudden bout of Swine Flu (so 2010!).

It seems that these days going gluten free is all the rage from Hollywood actors to the kid next door. Some folks are choosing to do so for the ‘diet du jour’ while others received a recent Celiac Disease diagnosis.

Whatever the reason, for those who do not cook gluten free, it’s a mystery. What the heck is gluten anyway? If my guest eats some, will she break out in hives and croak at my house? Talk about the worst dinner party ever.

Simply speaking, gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley (think beer – sigh). It makes some people sick. Chances are we all know someone who is gluten free and we’ll eventually have to actually cook something for them. Oh, the horror! Not to worry- your friend Dixie‘s dear hubby (aka her “practice first husband”) has Celiac and she has become a pro (ish)!

If you stick to the basics, it’s really not that hard. Here is a quick list of what’s in and what’s out for your gluten free friends:

What’s out: all wheat flours and things made with them – bread, pasta, beer, crackers, cookies, sauces (for thickening), etc.

What’s ok: any meat, vegetable, fruit, rice, distilled alcohol, wine, chocolate and non-wheat flours (rice, garbanzo, quinoa, etc.)

If you are planning a menu, stick to simple recipes that have ingredients from the perimeter of the grocery store. In other words- the whole, unprocessed foods.

Here’s a basic menu: Gluten Free – Domestic Square Peg style

  • veggies & hummus or olives &nuts for an appetizer
  • chicken/fish/beef/pork grilled with olive oil and garlic (beware of soy sauce – it is made from wheat and is also an ingredient in many prepared marinades)
  • mashed potatoes, rice, or quinoa
  • any veggie
  • no breads (there are plenty of GF breads but they are expensive and many taste like sandpaper)
  • wine or mixed drinks
  • fruit, chocolate or ice cream for dessert- here’s one of Dixie’s favorite gluten free NO BAKE dessert recipes

See, it’s not that scary. If you are more of an “Order IN” Domestic Square Peg, you can still easily entertain your GF friends. Stick to Thai food for lots of options. Most rice dishes and many of their soups do not have gluten. They usually have a rice noodle dish or two that will work as well. Many restaurants now label the gluten free options on their menus to make it even easier.

If you are a Domestic Square Peg who enjoys trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, some of my favorite sources are:

Even good ol’ #BettyCrocker is going #glutenfree … so, you know it’s getting mainstream!

So, go forth and invite your fabulously gluten free friends for dinner and dazzle them with your culinary knowledge! Soon, even the most kitchen-challenged Domestic Square Peg will be ready to take on a gluten free, casein free, dairy free, hormone free, organic, tree nut free, soy free, humanely raised, local Menu. Or not.


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