How to accommodate people with gluten allergies this holiday

What makes the holiday season extra special is quality time and delicious food shared with family and friends. However, hosting can come with its own challenges, especially if you invite guests with food allergies. So what do you need to know about getting around on holiday when it comes to guests on a gluten-free diet? Let’s start by breaking down the basics of what exactly gluten is and how you can help gluten-free guests arriving at your party.

Gluten isn’t as scary as it may seem, it’s simply a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and a wheat-rye hybrid called triticale. It helps give elasticity and texture to many of our favorite baked goods, but it’s also found in countless products on store shelves.

Gluten can cause discomfort or even serious health problems for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. But what is the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the autoimmune response causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. A person suffering from gluten intolerance can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with celiac disease, but there is no damage to the small intestine. Although there are tests to detect celiac disease, there are no diagnostic measurement tools to diagnose gluten intolerance.

How can you make gluten-free guests more comfortable at your holiday party? Wash all dishes, serving utensils, kitchen utensils, etc. thoroughly when preparing and serving gluten-free foods. This is because people with celiac disease can be affected by cross-contamination. So if you normally prepare gluten-containing foods in your kitchen and serve other gluten-containing foods at parties, be sure to give those dishes and surfaces an extra scrub! It can also be helpful to label dishes and let guests know which options are gluten-free so they can serve themselves freely.

Now that you’re ready to host, let’s talk about sweet and savory pastries that all party guests can enjoy, even those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance!

Starting with the sweet, I recommend Sweet Lorens ready-to-bake cookie dough. These sweet treats are not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free, peanut- and nut-free. Sweet Lorens even offers select varieties that have 40 percent less sugar than other leading national brands, but still satisfy your sweet tooth.

For guests with a savory taste, common pantry staples like gluten-free Chex cereal come in handy! Gluten-free Chex cereals are made from whole grains and are enriched with important vitamins and minerals, making a great base for a snack mix.

I recommend whipping up this crowd-pleasing party favor ahead of time. It’s perfect to serve when guests arrive at a holiday gathering or to enjoy as a snack on the way to a vacation destination!

To satisfy their sweet tooth, it’s easy to keep a pack of Sweet Lorens ready-to-bake cookie dough handy and throw in the oven just before your guests arrive. Everyone loves warm cookies!

If you’re ready to dive deeper into the gluten-free diet, check out the Hy-Vees On-Demand Virtual Gluten-Free Nutrition Tour. It’s free and you can access the recorded tour immediately after registration. Register at

Gluten-free Original Chex Party Mix. (General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition)


Gluten-free Original Chex Party Mix

Makes 22 servings


4 cups of Corn Chex

4 cups of Rice Chex

2 cups of Cheerios

2 cups bite-sized gluten-free pretzel sticks or wraps

6 tablespoons vegan dairy-free butter vegetable oil spread

2 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free seasoned salt

3/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder


Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the cereal and pretzels until well combined. In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave vegetable oil uncovered on High for 30-40 seconds or until melted. Mix in the spices. Pour over cereal mixture; mix until smooth. Transfer to a greaseless frying pan.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on a paper towel to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


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