I’m pleased to share my experience as part of Coeliac UK’s ‘Tales from a Gluten Free Christmas’ campaign #gfchristmas. Visit Coeliac UK’s online Christmas Market to find out more.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been an unrelenting, godforsaken hellscape of a year. So, with that in mind, let’s look ahead to that one glimmer of hope on the horizon, Christmas!
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Christmas. In the immortal words of Shakin’ Stevens, it’s a time for parties and celebration, and eating your own bodyweight in gluten free food. Of course, there probably won’t be too much partying going on this year, but gluten free festive goodies are most definitely still on the cards.
As I’m sure regular viewers will know, I’ve had coeliac disease all my life, so a gluten free Christmas is the only type I’ve ever known. If you’re a newcomer to the gluten free game though, I can assure you that we most definitely don’t have to miss out over the festive season.
Read on to find all of the tips and advice you need, and probably some you don’t, to enjoy the perfect gluten free Christmas.
Let’s get stuck straight in to the main event when it comes to Christmas food. Arguably the best meal of the year, Christmas dinner. The good news here is that the majority of Christmas dinner classics are gluten free, and those that are not can be made gluten free with a couple of easy tweaks.
Of course, meat is naturally gluten free, so the obligatory turkey can be consumed for days on end with no worries. Roast potatoes? You bet! The Coeliac Man approved method is to give your par-boiled potatoes a good chuff up, then roast lathered in goose fat and rosemary. All vegetables are naturally gluten free as well, yes even Brussel sprouts, so there’s no excuse there unfortunately.
Pigs in blankets often aren’t gluten free if you’re buying ready-made, so be sure to check the labels. However, I would advise buying some gluten free sausages and making your own anyway. Not least because you then get full sausage sized pigs in blankets, rather than the teeny little ones that they make for normal people!
Another sausagey staple at Coeliac Man HQ is sausage stuffing, as you can never really have too much meat on your plate during Christmas dinner. This has been a classic favourite made by the Coeliac Mother over the years and Christmas is never really the same without it!
If you prefer sage and onion stuffing then this usually contains gluten, so your best bet is to either make your own, or check out the free from aisles in the supermarkets as most should have a gluten free packet mix available. The same applies for gravy, but again there is plenty of choice in the free from aisles if you don’t fancy making your own.
Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy Christmas is to stay healthy and avoid that pesky gluten. With all the delicious food flying around the kitchen, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant with cross contamination to ensure the only bloating you experience is due to overdoing it on the turkey sandwiches, not because you’ve been accidentally glutened.
Ingesting even a crumb of gluten can be enough to cause all the lovely symptoms of coeliac disease, and cause long term gut damage, so it’s best to steer clear of the sticky stuff at all costs.
To do this you’ll want to make sure that any area where you’re preparing gluten free food has been well cleaned, and that no gluten is likely to invade this area. Your food should then be kept separate to any gluten-containing monstrosities throughout preparation, cooking, and serving to ensure that you can enjoy with the peace of mind that it’s fully free from gluten.
In the unlikely event that Christmas parties happen this year then the dreaded buffet, aka a cross contamination nightmare, might make an appearance. Thankfully, if you’ve got understanding family and friends like mine, they’ll usually go out of their way to make sure you’re catered for, meaning you often get a whole plate of treats to yourself.
If they’re not clued up on gluten free then they’ll inevitably ask you what to buy which means you essentially get to choose whatever you want to eat. So, it’s win-win all round! Just make sure they know to keep your food separate and you’re good to go.
I remember a time when if you wanted gluten free mince pies at Christmas, you had to bake them yourself. Or, more specifically, rely on Mum to bake them for you. Those days are long gone however, as you can now walk in to any supermarket and find gluten free mince pies, along with a whole range of festive goodies. Each year supermarkets and free from brands seemingly try to outdo each other with a bigger and better festive free from range, which is great for us coeliacs!
From Advent calendars to Christmas pudding, from yule logs to lebkuchen, and from panettone to party food, you can now find gluten free versions of more Christmas foods than I could ever have imagined back when I was just wee small Coeliac Boy. For the perfect gluten free Christmas it is essential to stock up on a good range of these tasty treats to enjoy throughout the festivities!
There are far too many amazing products to list them all here, so the best tactic is to check out a few of your local stores to see what they have on offer. Or, if you need some inspiration, you can download a handy Christmas List from the Coeliac UK website which contains literally hundreds of festive products that are certified coeliac-friendly!
Don’t forget as well that if you’re a Coeliac UK member you can use the excellent food checker app to scan your shopping as you go to be doubly sure that it’s suitable.
And that, as they say, is that! However you decide to spend your gluten free Christmas I hope you have a happy, healthy and peaceful time. Coeliac Man out. X
Don’t forget you can follow @TheCoeliacMan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Hi Dave, thanks for the Christmas blog, very helpful and interesting. I started my working life – 60 years ago – as a trainee chef (but did not continue in the profession) but still do a fair amount of cooking. No mention of Coeliac Disease or GF in those days (not even microwaves!) However my sons partner, who is a v good cook, has just been on a diploma course at a top cookery school – where several items were GF. She sent me some excellent baguettes and custard tarts, for which I now have the recipes – no instant mix in sight. Currently enjoying M and S mince pies and fruit cake.
Keep up the good work