For 1 in every 100 people around the world, living without gluten isn’t a fad, it’s a necessity, which is why every season we receive more requests for gluten free gifts. Tragically, celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder – causes damage to its sufferers when they eat foods and products that contain gluten. For family members, friends, and colleagues who enjoy spoiling others with gourmet gifts for the holidays, the mystery of which gifts you can safely send to people with celiac disease can be intimidating.
Navigating this dietary restriction isn’t as difficult as it sounds, though, even for people who only have to worry about gluten free gifts for Christmas, New Year, or the occasional birthday. A lot of items are gluten free already, without having to take steps, make substitutions, or jump through hoops. Other things should always be avoided. Here’s your quick guide to shopping for gourmet foods and gifts without gluten.
What Is Gluten, Anyway?
Gluten is a protein that’s found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley. It acts something like a glue that holds certain foods together. Gluten also often ends up as a thickener in processed foods. And it’s even used sometimes as a binder in medications and vitamins. Although it’s totally natural, some people cannot tolerate it. Indeed, for those with celiac disease, gluten causes damage to the small intestine. Needless to say, if you are looking for gluten free Christmas gifts, you don’t want to end up causing that.
Which Foods Are Naturally Gluten Free?
For friends and family members who have to live a gluten free life, it can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Many processed foods, canned soups, and sauces in jars sneak flour in as a thickener and require close attention to the labels. But plenty of other foods have always been gluten free, and fortunately they make excellent holiday gift baskets.
Do Send the Following Gluten Free Foods in Gift Baskets:
- Fresh Fruits: It doesn’t get easier or healthier than a fruit basket filled with nutrients and flavor.
- Fresh Vegetables: Gifts from the greenhouse put a savory twist on the classic gift hamper.
- Fish and Seafood: That’s right, gifts with caviar or smoked salmon are still on the menu.
- Dairy: Cheese makes everything better, and your friend with celiac disease can enjoy most cheeses (except blue cheeses).
- Wine & Liquor: Yes! That wine gift basket will be okay. In fact, juices, hard ciders, and distilled liquors like vodka, rum, and cognac are safe, too.
Gifts to Avoid Sending to Someone with Celiac Disorder
Once you get the hang of it, choosing the best gourmet gifts for your loved ones avoiding gluten isn’t so hard. But if you’re new to the process, here’s a quick reference list of foods your recipient won’t be able to enjoy.
Do NOT Send the Following Foods in Gift Baskets for Gluten Free Recipients:
- Processed & Dried Fruits: If you’re ordering online, and you can’t read the label, avoid these. Fruits in cans and jars, made into preserves, and even some dried ones can contain wheat. Pre-made fruit smoothies fall into this category, too.
- Processed Meats & Sausages: Many sausages use fillers with wheat products, and some smoke flavorings do, too. While fresh, unprocessed meats from the butcher are safe, their pre-packaged counterparts are often not.
- Blue Cheeses: Sometimes these are made with bread mold.
- Pasta & Pasta Sauces: Unless there’s a specific label guaranteeing it’s made with a gluten free substitute, most are made with semolina, durham, and other kinds of wheat. Pasta sauces can contain small amounts of wheat or flour, and aren’t safe to send.
- Beer, Ale, Lagers & Malt Beverages: Unfortunately, these are usually made with gluten-containing grains and should be avoided.
These lists are not comprehensive, but you can find more safe and unsafe foods for celiac disease sufferers at the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Choosing Gluten Free Gifts
Remember to take recipients’ personal preferences into account when picking a present. It’s no good to send a gluten free wine gift if your recipient really hates wine. And what if you’re sending a corporate gift that’s meant to be shared with a team, but don’t know each member’s specific needs? Err on the side of caution, and choose a gift with lots of treats, including some from the DO list above.
If you’re still having trouble picking the right gift, no worries. Call us anytime; we’ll help.
Now you know how to choose great gluten free gifts this holiday. What now?
- Traveling and need safe restaurant options for those with celiac disease? Check out 11 Travel Destinations for Gluten Free Foodies.
- Toast a friend living gluten free: Send a wine gift basket.
- Share this blog with your friends to help them navigate their gluten-free gift options.