• Last night, we dined at a friend’s house who had not hosted us since my gluten free diagnosis in November ’05. The wife of the couple told me that she was ready for the challenge of preparing a gluten free meal for us. At her request, I emailed her a list of do’s and don’ts. I am totally stunned that anyone would want to go to this trouble – that she did, speaks to the value of our friendship. If she didn’t want to invite us again, I can’t say I’d blame her. Of course, we could bring our own food, and that would be fine too. What’s more important is being together. In any case, thank you Deb! My husband and I were so grateful to have a friend who was willing to try and make it work. While I am the official Celiac, Peter has been happily and successfully following a GF diet for almost a year and feels like a new man. No more headaches or heartburn for him!

    Next morning diagnosis: I’m afraid I’m not feeling as well as I’d like to feel, but I am positive that it is because I overate – the food was delicious! This feels like an “I ate too much” reaction. I’m now able to discern very accurately between that and a gluten reaction. If I’ve had gluten, straight to the bathroom for me. Sorry for being blatant, but most if not all of the people reading this will totally understand, right? Silly me, I know better. I should’ve been very conscious about not overeating, though no surprising that I did, as our friend is a superb cook and it was always hard in the past not to overeat her delicious fare. Next time (if she’s willing to try again), I will be more attentive to that.

    Thankfully, before eating, she very willingly went over everything she made with a fine tooth comb. She followed my emailed instructions to a “t”. I give her a huge amount of credit for her efforts – she did say that it was very labor-intensive. I totally understand:).

    In my Celiac journey, I’ve learned that some of us are not as careful as others, for different reasons. I have absolutely no judgement about how other Celiacs live their lives. I know that for me, I must observe 100% gluten free. I lived silently for far too long, with stomach aches, to do anything else. Plus, I want my hair to grow back. I have Alopecia which is an auto-immune disease, not uncommonly related to Celiac Disease. Fortunately, the hairloss on my scalp is in places that are covered by the rest of my thick head of hair. One of the many blessings I can count!

    Anyway, here is the list of do’s and don’ts that I emailed Deb. If you have any suggestions for editing the list, I’m most open to them. Please email me or make a comment to this particular post.

    What to tell your dinner hosts, always in writing:

    No wheat, rye, barley, oats or anything derived from these – many, many foods that you would least suspect are derived from these things which is why it’s best to stick to as close to nature as possible. I know that oats are questionable, depending on the source. I prefer to avoid them.

    Cross contamination: VERY, VERY important to avoid. Even a molecule of gluten can adversely affect me.

    Feel free to ask me/us to bring something. I make GF kick-ass brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

    While this list seems extreme, please know it is vital for you to adhere to it. One tiny trace amount of gluten can adversely affect me for months. Trust me, I’ll spare you the details.

    GF = gluten free

    1. Begin with new sponges in your sink. Old sponges can be contaminated. Also use all clean, kitchen towels.
    2. Think fresh. Think raw.
    3. Raw, uncooked poultry, meat and/or fish is fine. Nothing canned unless verified GF. If cooking chicken, it is best to use chicken parts, not whole chicken as sometimes whole birds are injected with flavor enhancers which contain gluten. If you want to use whole chicken or turkey, please check with me first.
    4. If using marinade, make it from scratch with oil and something acidic (distilled vinegar which MUST NOT have the wording “flavored” on the label), lemon juice), fresh herbs, spices – that should be fine. No bouillion of any sort. No chicken stock unless verified GF. No soy sauce unless San-J Wheat-free Tamari. Easiest to find: Heinz apple cider vinegar (not apple cider flavored vinegar). Some balsamic is ok, but must be verified as sometimes it contains caramel coloring which can contain gluten. Check with me if you want to use balsamic – I can tell you or find out for you whether the brand has gluten in it.
    5. Fresh or frozen raw vegetables are fine.
    6. Best to cook the whole thing in a foil pan (the kind you throw out). Or you can put a layer of foil in one of your pans so that the food doesn’t touch the actual pan.
    7. If you use butter (not margarine) for anything, it should be from a totally new, fresh stick.
    8. The cutting or preparation surface must be a new cutting board, designated only for making food for us. Please purchase one for this purpose, write GF on it in big letters with a permanent marker, store in a wrapped bag when not in use. You can also buy them at the dollar store (usually three to a package for $1). Make sure that the surface you put it on when using is thoroughly wiped with a clean sponge and cleanser FIRST.
    9. From the time you start preparing food we will eat, all utensils, knives, must be used only for the food we will be eating. Do not use serrated knives, only flat edge knives. Only use stainless steel or metal spoons or utensils for preparing our food (nothing plastic, nonstick, wood – it all retains gluten molecules).
    10. If you are cooking anything on the stovetop in a pan, it should only be a stainless steel pan. Do not use a nonstick pan, as the scratches retain gluten.
    11. Food should be served (or come into contact) with only porcelain, pottery, stainless steel or metal serving dishes.
    12. No blue cheese unless verified GF. It is often made from a bread mold.
    13. Do not use a colander or utensils that would’ve been used for pasta, no matter how clean you think they are.
    14. Salad is fine, but if you do anything unusual like marinated beets, make sure, again, that in the process of marinating them, all of the above steps are observed.
    15. Every single food that you will be serving me, with no exceptions, must be verified by reading the ingredient list on the packaging (unless it’s raw i.e. lettuce, fruit etc.). Nothing can be taken for granted, absolutely nothing. If it has an ingredient in it and you’re not sure, don’t use the food. If you’re so motivated, you can go online and google the item by putting into the google search engine “Is ____________ gluten free?”. If you can’t come up with a definitive answer, don’t use it. Sometimes if you can find the website of the company/manufacturer of the food, they will have a FAQ page that will list info about the gluten free status of their foods.
    16. NO TASTING AT ALL unless you spoon the food out and put it in a separate dish before tasting. If you aren’t following a gluten free diet, you have gluten in your saliva. If you stick your finger in something to taste it and then put that finger back in the food to taste it again, you will contaminate the food. Same with utensils – if you use a spoon or fork to taste the food, do not dip that same utensil back into the food to retaste it. Use a new utensil.
    17. Please, please, please tell your other diners (family members as well) NOT to taste the food and to follow the same procedures as in number 16.
    18. If you are serving anything on a platter that other diners will be serving themselves from, let the GF diners serve themselves first. Once others who aren’t GF have served themselves from the platter, the food and/or utensil can be cross-contaminated.

    • Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF)

      Great list…thanks for sharing it.


    • Sheri

      Wow – great list! I am going to print this out for the fam and The Man.

    • Anonymous

      Wonderful list! Thanks for posting it.

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