Gluten-free diets are here to stay. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 100 people worldwide are affected by the disease and face two times the risk of coronary artery disease and four times the risk of small bowel cancers than the rest of the population, so sticking to a strict gluten-free diet is not an option for some. For others, it just makes sense to steer away from wheat and other grains and stick to a fresh palette of fruits, vegetables, proteins, beans, and dairy as part of their overall regimen of well-being. It’s no wonder so many gluten-free catering menus have been popping up on event tables in New Orleans, but gluten-free doesn’t have to mean flavor-free.
What does gluten-free mean?
Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, rye, and barley, which can take the form of anything from bread, pasta, breading seasonings, and sauces. Those with gluten sensitivities can react from ingesting gluten the size of a crumb, so it’s crucial that caterers monitor and prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can occur during food prep, cooking, or while serving. It can be as simple as using the same spoon to stir the gluten-free pasta, as is used to stir the regular pasta.
Gluten-free can be loaded with flavor
While the list of things that do contain gluten may seem depressingly long, i.e. pastas, cupcakes, breads, etc., gluten-free offers a lot of fresh opportunities to liven up any catering menu. Some caterers substitute grain-based flours and opt for tapioca, almond or coconut flour to evolve their treasured baked menu items to be gluten-free. If you stick to foods that are naturally gluten-free such as fresh meats, fish, poultry, legumes, dairy, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables, the possibilities are virtually endless. A raw oyster bar or shrimp station can satisfy any gluten-free appetite, as can many charcuteries, fresh fruit options, and salad bars. Note, seasonings and sauces can add gluten to these naturally gluten-free products, so never assume a dish is gluten-free. Be sure to be clear with your caterer if you want a dish to be 100 percent gluten-free.
There is a world of gluten-free options
There are some cuisines that tend to contain larger amounts of gluten. Take traditional French fare, which uses a flour-based roux in most sauces. However, other cuisines are naturally safer bets, or can easily be converted. Greek and Middle Eastern cultures focus on simply grilled proteins and vegetables, stews, rice, and chickpeas. Thai dishes get their umami from fish sauce instead of the wheat-containing soy sauce found in other Asian dishes. Thai cuisine also uses rice paper for spring rolls, rice noodles for pad Thai, and jasmine rice for curries. Mexican and other Latin American foods are often rice and corn-based, or have dishes that can easily be converted to gluten-free versions like masa-based corn tortillas for tacos, along with many main and side dishes the use rice, beans, plantains, avocados, tomatoes, and whole roast chicken. And Italian cuisine may be a surprising addition to this list, but consider spiralized vegetable noodle pasta, gluten-free pastas, risottos, polenta, cured meats, and cheeses.
What to expect from a gluten-free caterer
A gluten-free caterer will know how to properly prepare and serve gluten-free catering menu items. This will mean a safer and tastier result. Proper labeling and service is necessary to avoid cross-contamination. Specific things to discuss with your caterer is if they use different pots/pans/utensils when cooking gluten-free foods. Make sure they have a protocol for preparing, cooking and serving gluten-free options safely. They may have even received a gluten-free training or certification.
Messina’s Catering & Events has many gluten-free catering menu options
Meeting the dietary needs of everyone at a catered event is challenging, especially when these needs are medically necessary. We always recommend customers incorporate some gluten-free items into their catering menus. We have lots of gluten-free menu items available, and are always open to new inspiration from our clients! As a third-generation, family-owned and operated business celebrating 60 years, Messina’s Catering & Events has become a leader in providing gluten-free catering menus for our catering customers.
An experienced New Orleans caterer like Messina’s can help you craft the perfect gluten-free catering menu for events both large and small. To learn more, visit http://www.messinascatering.com.