Sunday, February 5, 2012

Surviving Super Bowl Sunday -- For Party Hosts with Celiac Guests

This post isn't so much for celiacs, but for people hosting parties today. For some of us, the best part of the Super Bowl is the copious amounts of food that will be served, from takeout to homemade. Here's a guide to help hosts without gluten issues understand what their guests with celiac can and cannot eat.
  • Baked goods -- Obviously, this is the big one for us. We can't have anything with flour, or that's even been dusted with flour. Most people understand this. But what about when you're cooking, and are in a rush, and decide to reuse a cookie sheet for something that will be celiac safe? That's the kind of cross contamination that makes a celiac really sick. 
  • Wings/BBQ -- My formerly favorite part of watching Super Bowls was ordering a ridiculous amount of wings and chowing down. Unfortunately, if they're from any wing takeout place, they aren't gluten-free, even if they don't dust the wings in flour. They fry them in the same oil as the battered chicken, and that's enough to make us sick. Same goes for BBQ -- it's not the preparation, but the BBQ sauce. Most restaurants use vinegars made from gluten (such as malt vinegar) for the marinade/sauce, so this is not gluten free.
  • Chips and salsa -- Seems pretty clear cut, right? No flour in any of this. Except.. still not gluten free, depending on the brand. Tostitos chips are gluten free, but NOT the ones that are "Hint of..." flavored. And Tostitos salsa is not gluten free. Many companies will process their chips and salsa on the same equipment that processes items with gluten, and this is enough to sicken us. For someone with just a sensitivity to gluten, these items are probably fine. 
  • Potato chips and snacks -- Many potato chips are safe (Utz brand, for example, and regular Lays), but many are not. Miss Vickie's are not gluten free, nor are a bunch of Lays flavors. Doritos are also not gluten free -- they are processed on the same equipment as some gluten items. For those of us who are so sensitive that even the slightest contamination will make us sick, here's a list of Frito Lays products that are positively gluten free and those that are not made with gluten products, but processed on the same equipment.
  • Pizza -- Obvious. Gluten-free pizza is the only kind of pizza we can eat, and if you are making a frozen one, make sure it's a clean cookie sheet.
  • Chinese takeout -- Another common takeout food for the Super Bowl (I used to work in a Chinese restaurant, and Super Bowl Sunday was always nuts), Chinese food, especially the bastardized American version, is chock full of gluten. Everything is battered and fried, or fried in the same oil. Soy sauce is made from wheat, so anything with soy sauce is off limits -- that means pretty much everything.
Please understand that most celiac sufferers will show up with their own food. I, personally, do not plan to put anyone out or inconvenience a host by making them accommodate my food issues. But when I host parties, it is important to me that I accommodate all food allergies (I had a dedicated food allergy plan, including separate desserts, for guests with allergies at my wedding) and take this task very seriously. If there are any others out there like me, I hope this helps!

Also.. GO PATS!

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