Catering for friends with food intolerances
Hosting a function for multiple people can end up being rather difficult! There are many things to organise - from entertainment, to the guest list, and catering, quickly turning your fun filled event into quite a stressful time. Whether it be a simple event like a movie night with girlfriends, to a big birthday bash, catering for numbers has its difficulties.
Enter the 21st century and you have the added stress of catering for those with food intolerances. I’m not talking about those who choose to follow a paleo/vegetarian diet or avoid certain ingredients, but those who suffer serious consequences when a particular food is consumed. You’ve heard the words gluten, lactose and fructose thrown around but may be finding it hard to keep track of the foods that are suitable and those that aren’t.
A critical step:
When planning your social event, ask guests in advance if they have any special dietary requirements. This minimises any last minute pressures and give you plenty of time to plan ahead.
Below is a list of the most common food intolerances and what to provide when catering for guests.
For any guests that have coeliac disease it is imperative to avoid gluten containing grains and packaged productions containing ingredients such as wheat, rye triticale, oats and barley. Gluten can be found in all kinds of foods, so your best option is cooking at home using as few packaged ingredients as possible! All plain protein sources e.g. cuts of meat; vegetables and fruit are naturally gluten free. So they will always be a safe bet!
For finger food, dip platters are great with gluten free dips and crackers, and for meals, rice based dishes and protein packed salads, or meat and vegetables are fantastic. Be careful of any sauces you add to the dish though, as they can be hidden sources of gluten! When preparing food also be aware of any cross contamination (i.e. different utensils, and plates are used) as even the most minor trace of gluten can affect someone with coeliac disease!
Lactose intolerant individuals generally don’t find themselves deprived of dairy these days, due to a vast range of alternatives on the market. Lactose free milk, cream, ice cream and cheese is readily available and can be substituted easily into most dishes. Double check with guests that it is lactose intolerance they suffer from and not an allergy to dairy, as all milk based products (including lactose free) will not be suitable.
Guests with fructose malabsorption often have a hard time eating away from home as there are many foods that are not suitable. The most common ingredients to avoid include onions, garlic, apples, honey, lentils, various grains (wheat, rye) and stone fruit. Have a chat to your guest before they arrive and find out what sorts of dishes they cook at home and come up with a list of ingredients that are suitable. Home-made pizzas on gluten free bases are a great idea as well as roasted meats and salads with suitable veggies.
Sometimes guests may feel more comfortable providing their own food or bringing along a suitable dish to an event. Allow them to do so, as your guest may feel more at ease knowing that they are eating ‘safe’ food; especially where more than one type of intolerance is present.
Keep on hand easy snacks like plain popcorn, nuts and veggie sticks to ensure no one goes without!