Sunday, January 30, 2011

GEGGF: The Superbowl Party

Author's note: This post is geared toward someone who doesn't really know that much about gluten or the gluten free diet, but wants to accommodate for someone gluten free (SGF). It's mostly written for people like me -- I try to be as accommodating a hostess as possible and try to make sure that everyone has something to eat and isn't going to be stuck on the toilet for the next three days. This series of posts is meant to be pretty tongue-in-cheek, and there are a ton of other great options -- these are just some suggestions for that gluten newbie out there.

So, you're having a Superbowl party! (Go Green Bay -- at least, this year!) In between throwing around the pigskin, cheering for your favorite team and making sure to tune in to the Budweiser ads (usually my favorite), the Great American Superbowl Tradition is to eat yummy, high-calorie foods.

Now, you've invited Someone Gluten Free (SGF) over, and you want to make sure they have at least a little something. Neither they or the rest of your guests want everything gluten free or this to be a burden, and don't worry about having some non-gluten free items. As long as SGF knows to stay away from them, trust me, SGF won't care.

First Things First
Understandably, you're a little intimidated at the thought of "gluten free food." Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this blog, right? Now -- before we go on, some things that you should know. These apply to all categories gluten free:
  • Cross-contamination is a Big Thing, especially if SGF is celiac. Cross-contamination occurs when something that contains gluten touches a gluten free food, making it no longer gluten free. Cross-contamination can occur in a lot of ways -- to name a few: double dipping a knife in the peanut butter jar while making a PBJ, using wheat bread in the same toaster as gluten free bread, and frying gluten free items in a fryer that previously held wheat. The rule of thumb that I usually use: If I'm serving a dip or something that's gluten free, I'll spoon some out into a separate dish for SGF before letting the rest of the crowd attack it with crackers.
  • Please ask questions! Don't know whether something is gluten free? Chances are, SGF either subscribes to gluten free product lists, is pretty adept at Google, or has already called the company/researched the product in the past. Plus, SGF usually is eager to share his/her hard-earned gluten free knowledge and is just thrilled you're asking! Please, it's not a hassle at all!
  • Please don't be offended if SGF asks a lot of questions about food you're pretty sure is gluten free. Sometimes it seems like almost everything has gluten in it. I glutened my husband (then-fiance) two weeks after he was diagnosed celiac by buying Rice Krispies. "What? They're just crisped rice! There's no gluten in that!" Ha! Yeah, right.
  • Most Gluten Free Foods Suck. Sorry, there's really no other way to put it. Some items found on grocery shelves have the consistency of a really thick piece of cardboard (or even plywood) and don't taste much better. You see bread or crackers on the grocery store shelf and want to pick it up? Step back! If you're reading this and don't know a lot about gluten free food, or SGF's preferences, it's better to stay away from specialty products. If you shell out $10 for a loaf of bread that turns out to be the exact material that airplane flotation devices are made of, SGF may feel guilty and choke down a slice, but mostly SGF will feel bad that you dropped money on expensive piece of crap.
  • That said: If you do need/want to buy a specialty gluten free product, please do research. The odds are SGF will be able to a) bring over some of his/her own stuff so you don't need to spend the money, or b) point you over to something that's better and cheaper than you were going to get anyway. It goes back to that whole "ask questions" thing.

Sure, most people at the party will be tossing back Buds all night - unfortunately, since beer is made with barley it's not gluten free. And while they do make gluten free beers (Redbridge is the most common, and can be found almost anywhere even Walmart), I'd advise not buying beer unless you know what SGF likes to drink. Some of the gluten free beers out there are nasty, and I know my husband won't touch Redbridge with a ten foot pole -- and wouldn't want anyone hunting up a whole six-pack of Bard's for him, when he's not that much of a beer drinker to begin with.

So, depending on what you know about tastes, here's a list of "safe" drink options:
  • Gluten free beer (if you know SGF likes it/people will drink it!)
  • Woodchuck (Gluten free, my hubby loves it, but I can't take it -- too sweet)
  • Wine
  • Soft Drinks
  • Hard liquor - think rum, etc.
When in doubt though? Either ask SGF or tell him/her to BYOB. That way, everyone's happy and you don't have to stress about accommodating everyone.

Chips and Dip
Chips and Dip are the biggest staple of Superbowl Sunday. So, do you have to buy a speical bag of gluten free pretzels for $5 a pop? No!

Fortunately - a lot of these super-yummy football staples are naturally gluten free without you having to do a thing!
  • Heluva Good has a list of their gluten free dips (Their French Onion has been a Superbowl tradition in my family since before we even knew what gluten was!) Served with gluten free potato chips like Lay's, it's a perfect snack.
  • Chips and Salsa or Chips and Guacamole are another favorite. Wholly Guacamole has some great salsas and guacamoles (their queso dip is NOT GF) that are marked gluten free, with gluten free tortilla chips. I'm a fan of scoops. If you want to be ambitious and make your own, all the typical ingredients are naturally gluten free: Avocados, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and lime!
  • Veggies and Dip and Hummus are also good ideas. My favorite veggie dip is from Marzetti, who also conveniently post a list of their gluten free products.
*** Just be aware (especially with the hummus here) that if you use pita chips or anything else cracker-like/not gluten free to dip with, make sure SGF knows to avoid that particular item! Alternately, they can take a place of that first before the rest of the crowd starts digging in.

For the Cooking Type
Making a meal yourself? Think about these options which can be made naturally gluten free:
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip. This is just about one of the easiest dishes I make, and friends and family rave about it - they call it "Chicken Crack." I don't even measure stuff for it - Mix together one 8 oz. package of cream cheese, Half a bottle to a bottle of Frank's Red Hot Original (just glug it out of the bottle until you're satisfied, I'll admit I usually do the whole bottle), 2 small cans/1 large can of canned white chicken meat, dump some Ranch dressing in and 3/4 of an 8 oz. bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Take it out, stir, add the rest of that bag of cheese to the top, and bake for 10 additional minutes. Serve with corn tortilla chips (Again, I'm a fan of Tostitos Scoops) and celery sticks.
  • Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers. OK, you may start to see a theme here, but buffalo chicken is one of my favorite foods. Ever. I made these for some friends a couple weekends ago, and primarily used this Rachael Ray recipe. The only difference? Hubby hates bleu cheese, so I subbed sharp cheddar cheese. It went very nicely with the monterey jack, and they went pretty quickly!
  • Nachos. Pile corn tortilla chips high with cheese, ground beef or chicken, jalapenos, black olives, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, etc. When I make this stuff I like to use the pre-cooked Perdue chicken breast slices, which are labelled gluten free. Just be careful with the sour cream topping -- I haven't seen this but have heard some nonfat varieties may contain gluten. Read the label, and if in doubt, tell SGF to stay away from it.
  • Tacos. Ortega taco shells are labeled gluten free, and if their seasoning doesn't say contains wheat, it's fine for SGF. Just see the above note RE: sour cream.
  • Chili. When I make chili I use ground beef, veggies, beans (drained), chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (drained) and a bit of cornmeal. I brown the ground beef, put everything else in the crock pot, and let it go for a few hours. The only issue I've ever run into is that Great Value kidney beans contain an allergen warning about wheat - I stick to Goya, they're better beans anyway. Just see the above note RE: sour cream.
  • Wings. If you bake wings or pan-fry them in new oil, they're fine. Also, Frank's Red Hot is gluten free, and what better topping is there for buffalo wings??
Getting it Catered?
Catered food is both easier and harder than cooking your own. If you're catering a typical pizza-and-subs Superbowl party, you may want to take advantage of one of the following local restaurants -- otherwise, ask the company who's catering your event, and if necessary notify SGF to make his or her own meal arrangements. As usual, since the Superbowl is the busiest day of the year, it pays to make all arrangements a few days before the Big Game if you want to ensure your order goes through (that goes double for gluten free orders, I'm sure).

Anyway, here goes:
  • Benevento Pizza in Glenville carries gluten free pizza and gluten free sub rolls. (We haven't tried them yet, but their menu is on our fridge).
  • 5th and 50 in Scotia also carries gluten free pizza crust. We've tried it, and it's decent.
  • Wheat Fields in Clifton Park (and, I'm assuming Saratoga?) has a gluten free menu that includes pizza.
  • Just Me! Pizza carries gluten free pizza with crusts from Laurie's Gluten Free Goodness. Their menu states their policy about switching out pizza pans. I just heard about them and haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to trying them out!
  • Nunzio's in Saratoga carries gluten free pizza (Just be forewarned that every time we've tried to get GF pizza there, it's over an hour wait. Definitely make plans to order ahead).

Not in the Capital District/Feel like a chain? Here are some more options (filtered to those that sound good for Superbowl Sunday):
These lists are not complete by far, so if your favorite gluten free takeout joint isn't included, please feel free to let me know about it in the comments!

I hope that helps you put together a great Superbowl party - fun for you, and all your guests including your SGF! And again, Go Green Bay!!! :)

1 comment:

Kat said...

Thanks to Lisa for also suggesting Shane's Rib Shack in Clifton Park! They have a gluten free menu, and I've heard they're excellent!