How to accommodate guests with gluten allergies this holiday

The holiday season is made special with quality time and delicious food shared with family and friends. However, hosting can come with its own set of challenges especially if you are inviting guests with food allergies. So, what do you need to know about navigating the holidays when it comes to guests following 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 holiday celebration.

Gluten is not as scary as it seems it is just a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and a wheat-rye hybrid called triticale. It helps give elasticity and structure to many of our favorite baked goods but can also be found in so many products on store shelves.

Gluten can cause discomfort or even serious health issues in 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 an autoimmune response causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. An individual with gluten intolerance may experience many of the same symptoms as a person with celiac disease, but no damage occurs to the small intestine. Also, while there are tests to detect celiac disease, there are no diagnostic measuring tools to diagnose a gluten intolerance.

How can you make guests following a gluten-free diet more comfortable at your holiday gathering? Thoroughly wash all dishes, serving utensils, cookware, etc., when preparing and serving gluten-free foods. This is because those with celiac disease can be affected by cross contamination. So, if you usually prepare gluten-containing items in your kitchen and you’re serving other gluten-containing foods at the party, be sure to give those foods and surfaces an extra scrub! It’s also helpful to label foods and let guests know what options are gluten-free so they can serve themselves freely.

Now that you’re ready to host, let’s talk about sweet and savory baked treats 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 tree 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 who prefer something savory, common pantry staples like gluten-free Chex Cereals come in handy! Gluten-free Chex Cereals are made with whole grains and are fortified with key vitamins and minerals and make a great base for a snack mix.

I recommend putting together this party snack for a crowd ahead of time. It’s perfect to serve as guests arrive at your holiday gathering or enjoy as an on-the-go snack while traveling to your holiday destination!

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

If you’re ready to take a deeper dive when it comes to navigating a gluten-free diet, check out the Hy-Vees On-Demand Virtual Gluten-Free Nutrition Tour. It’s free and you’ll receive access to the recorded tour immediately after registering. 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 Corn Chex

4 cups Rice Chex

2 cups Cheerios

2 cups bite-size gluten-free pretzel sticks or twists

6 tablespoons vegan dairy-free buttery vegetable oil spread

2 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free seasoned salt

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the cereal and pretzels until well combined. In small microwaveable bowl, microwave vegetable oil spread uncovered on High 30 to 40 seconds or until melted. Mix the spices. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until smooth. Transfer to an ungreased roasting pan.

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


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