Whether you and your kids are following a gluten-free diet or you're entertaining friends or family who are, some common appetizers are easy and gluten-free. These will appeal to your family, your guests and even your kids. Keep in mind that for some people, a gluten-free diet is essential and even the slightest contamination poses serious risks, so talk to your guests about their diet and needs.
Gluten and the Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is used in many packaged foods and may contaminate other foods, such as oats, during the production process. Individuals with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance suffer from an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten. Symptoms range from digestive difficulties to intestinal cancers. The only treatment is completely avoiding all foods that contain or are contaminated with gluten. If foods are not prepared in gluten-free facilities, the foods may become contaminated even if they don't normally contain gluten. Some people without Celiac disease have a gluten sensitivity or react poorly to gluten and feel best if they eat a gluten-free diet.
Many dips are gluten-free. Homemade favorites, such as guacamole and bean dip, are safe bets but season them yourself to avoid potential cross-contamination or choose seasoning mixes that are labeled gluten-free. Ranch dip mixes, for example, don't usually contain gluten, but check the labels carefully. Serve dips with gluten-free tortilla chips, fresh vegetables or rice crackers. Be sure to keep wheat-based crackers and bread away from the dip bowl or serve dip in individual cups to avoid crumbs or other contaminants in the dip.
Many stuffed appetizers are naturally gluten-free. Classic deviled eggs are an easy choice, or you can dress them up with a flavored or crab-based filling. Make stuffed mushrooms or stuffed cherry tomatoes gluten-free by avoiding any filling that calls for bread crumbs or try substituting gluten-free breadcrumbs instead. Try stuffing cherry tomatoes with chicken or egg salad for an easy cold appetizer that the kids and adults will like.
Use sturdy vegetables in place of crackers on many of your favorite toppings. Try cucumber slices topped with hummus and pine nuts or red bell pepper wedges with cream cheese. Other possible toppings include shrimp and smoked salmon. If you'd like something sweeter for the little ones, core apples and slice them into rounds, then top with peanut butter and granola or raisins.