DINNER ETIQUETTE WHEN HOSTING THOSE WITH FOOD SENSITIVITIES
We live in a world where it seems like everyone has an allergy or sensitivity. Peanuts, gluten, dairy, eggs, bananas …. Basically water is the only safe element these days (coming from someone with a household with anaphylactic allergies and food sensitivities!). So how do we address all these allergies?
Ask. Simply ask! Preference, sensitivity, intolerance, and allergy will all impact what you serve and how you serve it! For example, my husband cannot eat anything that touches peanuts. Therefore, scraping off peanuts from a cake wouldn’t work. Or, if the same surface for peanut butter cookies was used to bake chocolate chips cookies. Just a no go.
Find out more. Read ingredients and talk to the guest(s) with intolerances if you’re unsure.
Have others contribute. As a peanut free, gluten-friendly home, I’m happy to contribute and provide a dessert or dish to help serve our particular needs. If you’ve never cooked nut free or gluten/dairy friendly, be honest and ask for help. I often hate being “that” family – the one with the dietary restrictions. I hate being an inconvenience so I almost feel relieved when someone asks if I can pitch in!
Create a cheat sheet. I keep a list of allergy friendly recipes and products on Pinterest. That way I don’t have to research twice and I can rely on my tried and tested favourites.
Keep it simple. There are tons of options these days to accommodate all sorts of food preferences and allergies. What do I mean by keep it simple? Take out.
Last week, my husband was headed to the Flames game and I was just too tired to whip up a dinner everyone would eat. I took a page from Monica’s book and cut myself some major slack and ordered Panago’s gluten-smart pizza combo. Pepperoni, Shrimp Bacon Club, a Caesar salad (no croutons) and a Mediterranean salad.
If you lead a gluten-friendly lifestyle, you know any baked good can end up spongy, flakey or plain old yuck. That was definitely not the case with our pizzas! Even my pickiest eater loved the crust and asked for an extra slice – Panago’s gluten-smart crust is thin, crispy and delicious. And for my allergy aware friends it’s even free of all major allergens: dairy, eggs, soy, wheat/gluten, sulphite, shellﬁsh, ﬁsh, peanuts, tree nuts, mustard and sesame seeds. The pizza reheated well the next day, too. A bonus in my books because who doesn’t love left over pizza!
When ordering take out, it’s necessary for me to review the processes in place to minimize cross-contamination from allergens. Panago has their procedures outlined below:
Special square screens have been provided to each store for cooking purposes of this gluten-smart crust only
Clean knives are used for cutting this crust
Cooking screens are kept in a sealed container when not being used
Our gluten-smart crusts are kept in individually sealed packages and are not opened until the pizza is ordered
The crust is square to be easily identifiable to all store staff
Small stickers are adhered to all gluten-smart pizzas that leave the store to emphasize a potential risk to customers who may have gluten intolerances
For me, these precautionary measures met my dietary needs and standards. It is very rare these days to find a 100% gluten free restaurant as cross-contamination is always a risk. And at a pizza shop? Flour can float through the air. Be sure to communicate with your guest and rely on step 1 of the etiquette listed above to confirm if the guest is comfortable with the cross-contamination prevention.
Which brings me to another point: don’t forget to check the toppings for any allergens! For example, salami contains gluten but peperoni does not. Tricky, tricky that gluten! I chose my toppings first, and then double-checked the nutritional info here. If you’re looking for something delicious and different, I always recommend the Shrimp Bacon Club.
I love finding ways to simplify life and our allergy needs – Panago has made our hit list. How do you simplify life when facing allergies? What would you add to the etiquette list?