Avoiding the Grinch: Tips for a Gluten-free Christmas

Ah, eating season. Whether it’s Christmas at the in-laws, your office’s annual party, your children’s school fundraiser…there are plenty of excuses to chow down. However, there’s also a lot of hidden gluten lurking in some Christmas favorites, which can catch even the most seasoned celiac off guard.

Here are a few things to watch out for, and some recipes for festive gluten-free alternatives. You can find safe, gluten-free foods in our gluten-free grocery guide as well – perfect for helping your hosts serve a gluten-free holiday meal.

Honey-baked Ham: While there’s nothing intrinsically gluten-full about ham, the honey glaze contains gluten surprisingly often. You might be tempted to eat from the center of the ham, away from the glaze – but beware! Not only can contamination from the serving utensils make you sick, but avoiding the obviously glazed sections of ham does not guarantee you are getting a gluten-free bite. Paula Deen has a great gluten-free holiday glazed ham recipe (just make sure the ham you use is gluten-free to begin with!).

Picture-perfect eggnog, courtesy of Martha
Picture-perfect eggnog, courtesy of Martha

Eggnog: Most recipes don’t call for anything that would have gluten in it, but the occasional chef will include something unusual (like malted milk powder). In addition, some commercially produced eggnog is thickened – but this recipe from Martha Stewart produces eggnog that is gluten-free and delicious.

Christmas Pudding: Unlike more custardy puddings, this British treat is frequently held together courtesy of breadcrumbs and/or flour. To avoid mishaps, make your own. Jamie Oliver has a Christmas Pudding recipe that calls for gluten-free breadcrumbs and rice flour, or you can try this low-carb plum pudding recipe from Group Recipes, being sure to use gluten-free oats.

Anyone who wants to send me this chocolate-themed basket from I Can Have That! is heartily invited to do so.
Anyone who wants to send me this chocolate-themed basket from I Can Have That! is heartily invited to do so.

Gift Baskets: Nothing hidden here, just a lot of pretzels and mediocre mini chocolate chip cookies. At my old office, these floated around every year – and I was always glad I had an excuse not to take one home with me. If you’re buying a gift basket for a gluten-free friend or client, you should check out Vanilla Spoons, I Can Have That, GlutenSmart, or Planet Gift Basket. All offer thoughtful and safe options for your favorite gluten-free people.

What holiday foods are you surprised to find contain gluten? What recipes will you be trying out this year – or what readymade gluten-free foods were you excited to discover?

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