These days pretty much everyone has heard of gluten-free diets and seen a myriad of gluten free products in health food stores as well as on mainstream supermarket shelves. Many of us also know someone who has a gluten sensitivity or is gluten intolerant (also known as Celiac Sprue or just Celiac Disease), or we may, in fact, suffer from these conditions ourselves.
People with celiac disease or with gluten sensitivity need to avoid foods that contain wheat and that includes wheat protein, wheat starch, wheat flour (or bleached flour), wheat grass and wheat germ. Barley and rye are also considered “gluten grains”. Other grains that have gluten are bulgur, malt, couscous, semolina, farina, seitan, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
Reading ingredient labels carefully is essential. Sometimes it’s not obvious that a product may contain gluten. Some products that say they are “wheat free” on the packaging may still contain other ingredients that could have gluten such as vegetable protein or vegetable starch (which can come from wheat), or natural or artificial flavorings (which can come from barley).
Sometimes you may find a product that contains no wheat, but is manufactured in a shared facility that makes other products that do contain wheat. Unless it can be specified that there is a dedicated gluten free area in the facility where only gluten free products are made, and that the strictest gluten free protocols are followed, the product must be considered suspect for those who have Celiac Disease. Smaller producers often have to share commercial kitchens so it can be especially difficult to find artisanal foods made in dedicated gluten free kitchens where no other products are made.
Fortunately, many packaged foods now have gluten free certifications on the front and produce their foods in dedicated facilities that are not shared so that it’s easier to know that the product can be trusted to be gluten free. But gluten free is relative. The FDA allows products to state that they are gluten free if they contain less than 20 pppm (parts per million) of gluten. The Celiac Sprue Association, on the other hand, has the strictest certification requirements. Their seals indicate that the product contains less than 5 ppm of gluten. Other seals such as that from the Glucose Intolerance Group certify that products with their mark contain less than 10 ppm. People with extreme gluten intolerance will need to adhere to the strictest criteria for their health.
So what do you do if you need to send a gift to a gluten free person? Don’t be afraid to send a fun food gift! There are plenty of great options out there that can satisfy the requirements of a gluten free diet. Here are 10 gluten free gift ideas to consider next time you have to send a gift to a gluten free person. And check out our new and expanded gluten free gift page for more ideas.
Gluten Free Cheese Gifts
Who doesn’t like cheese??? Well, maybe someone who is vegan! But people who are gluten free can enjoy most cheese freely. The only exception may be cheeses that have mold such as blue cheese and Roquefort. That’s because some mold may be grown on bread or another type of wheat based culture medium and then injected into the cheese.
Most blue cheeses are produced naturally, and those are perfectly safe for someone with gluten intolerance, but unless it’s clear from the label on the packaging, you can’t be sure. If you decide to send a cheese gift to a gluten free eater, just be sure it includes gluten free bread or crackers!
Award winning cheddar cheese basket with gluten free crackers and spicy plum chutney.
Gluten Free Baked Goods Gift Baskets
If your gift recipient has a sweet tooth, you won’t fail to please them with a gift basket filled with gluten free baked treats! Local gluten free bakeries are simply burgeoning and the variety of yummy options is larger than ever. Honestly, it’s hard to impossible to tell a gluten free cookie from a wheat based one! We recently developed a new line of gluten free gifts to send including our “Gluten Freedom Supreme” which is our largest and most extravagant. This gift contains fresh fruit (naturally gluten free) and baked goods made by two different gluten free bakers: Tu-Lu’s Bakery and Las Delicias Patisserie in New York City.
Gluten Freedom Supreme — the quintessential gluten free gift idea!
Gluten Free Beer Gifts
Beside bread and other baked goods, beer is probably the next most longed for item that a gluten intolerant person has to give up. But just the way inspired bakers have developed tasty gluten free alternatives, so have the brewers! There are Brew-It-Yourself gifts for the industrious or “delivered to your door” subscriptions to gluten free beer clubs. Check out Spirited Gifts for a nice gift basket selection of gluten free beers.
Note that other alcohol may also not be gluten free. Vodka is especially tricky since many are wheat based and although the gluten should be removed during the distillation process, apparently some gluten may remain. UrbanTasteBud.com is good to use as a reference for gluten free spirits, but nothing beats calling the company to confirm.
Gluten Free Cookbook
If you want a gluten free gift idea for a person who likes to cook, consider a gluten free cookbook. We cooks always love scrutinizing a new cookbook to bring some fresh ideas into our culinary repertoire! And if you know their taste, you can spare them the shopping by bringing the ingredients to make one of the meals. That way all they have to do is conjure up the magic in the kitchen!
Gluten Free Mixes for Baked Goods
Think about it. If you can’t eat wheat-based flours, does that mean you can’t have bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, brownies, pancakes and waffles? Not anymore! There are so many gluten free mixes for all kinds of baked goods that use rice, chickpea, tapioca or even coconut flour among others. To make it a gift with a theme, include all the utensils, pans or griddles needed and even a matching pot holder, dish towel or apron as well. Another great gift for the do-it-yourselfer gluten free cook!
Gluten Free Restaurant
Everyone enjoys a meal out. Think about finding a gluten free restaurant near-by (or at least commutable) and treat them or get a gift certificate to one. Many restaurants now offer “gluten free” options. But if your friend, business associate, or family member has Celiac Disease, you may want to find a restaurant with a dedicated gluten free kitchen to be sure to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
Hire a Personal Chef to Cook a Gluten Free Meal
Imagine having a gluten free meal prepared by a chef in your very own kitchen! Shopping and clean up included! This is a really special treat and makes a lovely gift for gluten free people. If you want to spend more, you can give them the gift of a dinner party with a meal for 8!
Magazine Subscriptions for Gluten Free Living
Just look at the magazine racks in your local health food market or in the health section of your local bookstore and you will see that there is a plethora of subscription options that focus on living gluten free. While you may pick one up for yourself on occasion, most people don’t have subscriptions to magazines, even if it’s one they really like. So a gift of a magazine subscription is a really nice gesture.
Gluten Free Makeup
Why is there gluten free makeup? Well, many people who eat gluten free diets also like to live gluten free and just feel better knowing that what they put on their body as well as in their body is free from wheat and other gluten products. However, it can be a real issue for lipsticks and lip glosses. For example, sometimes Vitamin E, a common ingredient in lip balms, is derived from wheat germ. If a person is sensitive to trace amounts of gluten, a tiny amount could be ingested if it is applied to the lips. There are quite a few cosmetic companies that certify that their makeup is gluten free and some good websites that rate brand name cosmetic companies for the gluten composition of their products.
Gluten Free Apparel
Another fun gift is clothing such as aprons and t-shirts, or hand bags and shopping bags. Being gluten free is being part of a group, and some people like to advertise their membership! The slogans can be really creative and funny, while others are just downright silly. But there are lots of options so you will be able to find just the right expression to capture the personality and sentiments of your gift recipient!
Even if you don’t know much about living gluten free, don’t be afraid to consider a gluten free gift! We’ve given you 10 great ideas to start you off. Remember that your gluten free gift will show that you know them well and care enough about their dietary restrictions and preferences to have taken the time to do a little research to find the perfect gluten free gift for them!