Christmas is a time for family, food and festivities – however it can also come with the burden of stress. A stress that is quickly intensified by the words ‘dietary requirement’ and ‘gluten-free’ (GF).
According to The Gluten Free Agency, the global market for GF products has grown to approximately 40 million consumers – up to four million of whom suffer Coeliac disease. With four in ten Australian shoppers now buying GF products, a ‘gluten-free Christmas’ is becoming more of a reality for Australians.
Caroline Trickey, dietitian and culinary nutritionist for gluten-free company The Food Crafters, shares her top five tips to enjoy Christmas on a gluten-free diet, so you can worry less about the foods you’ll be consuming and focus more on enjoying time with friends and family.
1. BYO bonanza
“Always plan to ‘take a plate’ when going to a party where it is uncertain if gluten-free alternatives will be available. This is a common issue amongst my clients, and has led to many feeling left out of the holiday festivities. Although many catering companies now provide alternatives, often there is still not enough variety – only one or two options out of ten! Cross-contamination is also of concern as food handlers aren’t always aware or compliant. Sometimes it’s a good idea to eat before the event to ensure you don’t get hangry!”
2. Healthier cookies and crackers
“Cookies and crackers will always remain a staple item for the jolly season. Unfortunately, most gluten-free snacks are high GI which can leave you feeling unsatisfied and encourage you to eat more than you initially intended to! Nutrition filled alternatives like The Food Crafters range are high in fibre, the Ginger and Date containing nearly 4 grams per serve, almost 15% of your daily requirement. This also means they are a lot more filling and will keep your sweet cravings at bay.”
3. Christmas stuffing: revamped
“An easy swap for the beloved Christmas stuffing is to use gluten-free breadcrumbs. Although if you are looking for a lighter option, the combination of grains like buckwheat and quinoa can help you achieve a fresh, summery stuffing that isn’t stodgy. Another good option is to incorporate legumes such as lentils or chickpeas. This will offer a nutritious substitute that is both tasty and filling.”
4. Kitchen substitutes
“Cooking for the whole family doesn’t have to mean compromising your own dietary restrictions. Psyllium husks are an excellent source of soluble fibre, a prebiotic or ‘food’ for your good gut bacteria. They also have the added benefit of lowering LDL cholesterol levels and only need to be used in small quantities. You can add them to GF flours like buckwheat to provide texture. Alternatively you can use them to thicken smoothies, which if left for long enough turn into more of a mousse.”
5. Gluten-free beer
“A beer at the barbie on Christmas day is an all time Aussie tradition. Scientists in Australia are working hard on a new test to ensure the “gluten reduced” beers are safe for those with Coeliac disease 3 . Some are made from rice or sorghum – grains that don’t contain gluten and are safe. Others use wheat or barley and are then processed to reduce the gluten levels. For the mean time it might be worth sticking to champagne and wine, as they are naturally gluten-free!”
Do you have to cater for family/friends with special dietary needs over Christmas?
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