How to show hospitality to gluten-free guests

For a few months, one of my husband’s daughters had to follow a gluten-free diet.

I didn’t take it well, since his other daughter is a vegetarian and his brother was avoiding sugar at the time. Providing a dish for family dinners was a challenge.

“Now that’s enough!” I said, when my husband and I were in the supermarket buying ingredients to make macaroni and cheese as the main course for Thanksgiving, and he informed me we would need to find gluten-free noodles.

I’ve come around since then. Yes, I love serving a wine-basted standing rib roast for Christmas and sneaking bacon into weeknight casseroles. I love baking cakes and choosing my poison from a decadent dessert table.

But I am a firm believer in hospitality, and I can’t forget the look a young mother gave me in my home one night when she informed me her little daughter had a peanut allergy and I had no dessert alternative to offer.

Since that pre-Thanksgiving visit to a supermarket, my stepdaughter has learned she doesn’t have celiac disease. And I have become more sensitive to the importance of providing gluten-free choices in the monthly “Second Sunday Dinner Party” hosted by my friends and family at Norwood United Methodist Church.

Find out more about gluten-free diets.

Hospitality is so crucial to ministry. It may seem an inconvenience to provide choices for those with diet specifications, but that seems like saying it’s a pain to provide ramps for people in wheelchairs or to accommodate young children in worship.

If there’s a special need, we ought to be sensitive to it. If you jump through hoops to show hospitality to a guest who doesn’t eat meat or wheat, you will not only show love to that person, you might also leave a good impression on an observer.

We have at least two gluten-free guests who come to our monthly Dinner Party, and I’m constantly trying to make sure we have sufficient choices. We separate croutons from the garden salad. We make a separate batch of gluten-free macaroni and cheese. We buy gluten-free desserts and/or offer fresh fruit.

When I have time, I bake this amazing Gluten-Free Banana Bread from MyRecipes.com. (See photo at top of page.) This was my mother-in-law’s favorite, and she wasn’t gluten-free.

So now I’m asking you: What are your best gluten-free recipes and tips that will help other church members show hospitality to their guests? Please share with me here or at annettespence@holston.org. We’ll report what we learn from you soon!

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