Oh dear!! It is that time of year again. How does Christmas come around so quickly!!
Christmas can be a time of over eating, drinking and attending many different festive functions. You ask - how can this happen while still being committed to a strict gluten free diet? I can hear you say "Just a little bit doesn't worry me!!" Actually, any products containing gluten as small as a bread crumb can cause damage to the small bowel of a person who suffers from celiac disease. It doen't matter if your symptoms are mild or severe, the damage is being done to your small intestine everytime you consume gluten. At this time of year we all eat too much. Sometimes you have to say “No thank you” (because it is a gluten product) - also, it is an easy and polite way of not having to eat everything you are offered!!
So don't despair, there are plenty of gluten free products available at your local grocery stores, supermarkets, health food shops or local markets. A suggestion - get adventureous and try adapting your favourite Christmas receipes to gluten free i.e. substitute wheat flour for gluten free flour, wheat biscuits for gluten free biscuits if you are making cheese cakes. Sometimes it is just changing one ingredient and you now have a yummy gluten free dish/treat.
Alcohol is consumed by most people and guess what – alcohol is gluten free except for beer, larger, stout and guiness. For a complete understanding of how alcohol is gluten free, despite the ingredients originating from wheat, rye or barley, go to Enjoying Alcohol on a Gluten Free diet
Nibbles and Snacks
It is important to read the ingredient list on all products before you purchase them as manufacturers can change ingredients or production methods, without notice.
Nuts are a popular choice with a drink. All nuts in their natural state are gluten free but be aware sometimes they can be dusted in flour or have a wheat-based flavoring.
If you have not (personally) purchased the chips, then it is best to only eat plain potato chips/crisps as flavored chips usually contain flavoring or seasoning that contains gluten. There are many companies now making gluten free varieties of, not only potato chips/crisps but also corn chips.
Lollies, candies or any products that contain glucose syrup (derived from wheat) are gluten free. The ingredients are highly processed and all traces of gluten are removed so the final edible product does not contain gluten. See Reading and Understanding Labels - Australia and New Zealand . Lollies and candies that contain "wheat starch" are not gluten free.
Christmas Cakes and Desserts
Unless cakes and desserts are labeled gluten free you MUST assume they contain gluten. It is possible to make traditional Christmas Puddings and Christmas cakes gluten free by changing to gluten free flour mix and xantham gum.
Cheesecakes and lemon meringue pies can be made gluten free by using gluten free biscuits for the bases.
Rum Balls – substitution of cake crumbs or crushed biscuits with gluten free varieties will make a great gluten free treat that can be enjoyed by all.
If you do not like baking or cooking, many commercial companies now bake Christmas Cakes, puddings, mince tarts and rum balls that are gluten free. These can be found at your local supermarket, health food shop or speciality shop.
Christmas Day is often a family affair and involves numerous people making dishes and preparing food in the kitchen. It would be beneficial to read the article on Cross Contamination, to ensure cross contamination does not occur. It would be a pity if the gluten free food was accidentally contaminated with a gluten-containing product. This can be as easy as a wheat based-biscuit being dipped in a gluten free dip.
Do not forget the chicken/turkey is “stuffed” (for celiacs!!) if it is stuffed with wheat bread crumbs. It is not good enough to just eat the “white” meat and not eat any of the seasoning as the gluten permeates through the meat. By using gluten free bread in the stuffing/seasoning, the meal will be enjoyed by all.
It is also important to check for gluten in salads. This is an area that is often overlooked but gluten can be found in some dressings, mayonaise and "extras" added, like bacon bits and noodles.
A little bit of preparation and prior baking will ensure you have a tasty gluten free Christmas. Remember to speak up/out about your allergy and you might be surprised how your family or friends will alter recipes so that you can eat them. Some of my friends actually are proud and get a 'kick' out of making something gluten free. Of course, acknowledge and appreciate their attempts. Do not feel embarrassed, as a little bit of gluten can cause you a very unpleasant Christmas and be detrimental to your health.
Gluten free Christmas Baking
Gluten Free Rum Balls
2 tablespoon cocoa
125 g of coconut
1 tablespoon rum (or add more for your individual taste). Rum essence can be used to make them non alcoholic.
1. Crush biscuits. For best results place in a food processor.
2. Mix crushed biscuits, cocoa and half of the coconut.
3. Add condensed milk and rum. Stir to combine all ingredients. Add a little more coconut if mixture is too wet.
4. Roll mixture into little balls, then roll into (the other half of the )coconut
Safe to store in the freezer. Rum can be substituted for any liquor if you do not like the tast of rum. Maybe try Malibu, Kalihu, peppermint liquor.
Gluten Free Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge
2 x 395g cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups (440g) brown sugar, firmly packed
250g butter, chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) liguid glucose
3/4 cup (60ml) golden syrup
375g white cooking chocolate
1 cup (135g) shelled pistachios, roasted, chopped coarsely
1 cup dried cranberries
1. Grease and line an 18 cm rectangle lamington pan. In a heavy based saucepan, place sweetened condensed milk, sugar, butter, glucose, and golden syrup; stir over a low heat.
2. Keep stirring for 20 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened, and turned pale brown. Stir in the white chocolate, the pistachios nuts and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place in a refrigerator for 2-4 hours or until firm.
Makes: 40 squares
Gluten Free Almond Christmas Cake/Loaf
1 kg mixed dried fruit
1 tablespoon grated orange rind2/3 cup (160ml) sweet sherry
150g butter, softened
2/3 cup (150g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
100g marzipan, chopped coarsely
1 small (130g) apple, grated coarsely
3/4 cup (100g) almond meal (ground almonds)
1 & 1/4 cups (185g) gluten-free plain flour
1 cup (160g) whole blanched almonds
1/4 cup (60ml) sweet sherry, extra
1. Combine the fruit, rind and sherry in a large bowl; mix well. Cover and stand overnight or several days.
2. Pre-heat the oven to slow (140C/120C fan-forced). Line the bases and sides of two 9 cm x 21 cm loaf pans (base measurement) with 2 layers of brown paper and 2 layers of baking paper, bringing the paper 5 cm above the edge of the pans.
3. Beat the butter and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Add the butter mixture to the fruit mixture and mix well. Stir in marzipan, apple, almond meal and sifted flour; mix well together.
4. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pans, decorate the tops with blanched almonds. Bake in a slow oven for about 2 hrs or until the loaves are cooked when tested. Brush hot loaves with the extra sherry. Cover the loaves tightly with foil; cool in the pans.
5. If you wish, enhance the loaf with a white cake icing, and decorate with christmas cherries and holly.
Suitable to freeze. Not suitable to microwave.
Gluten Free Toblerone Cheesecake
1 cup plain chocolate (gluten-free) biscuit crumbs
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup (80g) butter, melted
500g block Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
200g Toblerone Milk or Dark Chocolate, melted
1/2 cup thickened cream
200g Toblerone Milk or Dark Chocolate for shaving
1. Mix gluten-free biscuit crumbs, butter and almonds; press into the base of a lightly greased 20cm springform pan. Chill.
2. Beat Philadelphia cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the melted Toblerone and cream until well combined.
3. Pour onto the prepared gluten free crumb base and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours until set, or overnight. Serve topped with the Toblerone shavings.