You’ve just been told that you’ve an unexpected visitor; and they have to have a gluten free diet. And the shops are all closed for Christmas What do you do?

balloonsFirst of all, don’t panic. Probably, they’ll come equipped with the basics: at least some bread. And if not, it’s still manageable – and they’ll probably be so glad that you’re able to feed them, that they’ll be grateful for anything you can provide.

Second: look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Assuming it is a main meal that you need to create, I’d start by looking at what carbohydrates you have that are gluten free. Do you have any potatoes, rice, polenta or quinoa? If you do, then, that will be the basis of your meal.

Then, protein. Do you have any: eggs, cheese, plain meat or fish (not breaded or battered), or dried/tinned pulses? That will then be the next element.

And vegetables – could you make a salad? Cook some side vegetables?

Often something really simple and straightforward is the best option. How about roasted vegetables served with rice and a salad? Or a souffle with chips or roasted potatoes? A risotto, a chili or a stew? Read all the labels of everything you put in. Check with your visitor before starting if possible – but don’t embarrass them by discussing the ins and outs in great detail, or by making a big fuss about it. Ask their advice; they’ll know. And if they say that they can’t eat something, please don’t put any pressure on them. “A little bit” will make a difference; “just a taste” will do them harm.

If they’ve come to share your Christmas dinner, and you’re serving a traditional turkey meal, they could eat the turkey and vegetables, probably including the roast potatoes, but not any sausages or stuffing, and not any of your planned Christmas pudding and mince pies either. Have you got any suitable icecream in the freezer, which you could offer with a butterscotch or fruit sauce – or with preserved stem ginger, chopped and served in its syrup? Could you simply cook up some dried fruits in orange juice and sugar in the roasting oven?

Just keep it simple and check everything. Your visitor will know that you’ve put in the effort to keep them safe and healthy over Christmas – and they’ll apppreciate it.