Entertaining… Sans Gluten

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For those of us with no problems digesting gluten, those who happily bake wheat breads, or who eat out without cross-examining the waiter, this is perhaps a moot discussion.  Unless, of course, you like to entertain.

The University of Maryland estimates that 1 in 150 people suffer from classic celiac disease where the ingestion of gluten in wheat, rye or barley (or products containing these) can produce severe, even life-threatening reactions.  An even larger number of people may have less severe reactions to gluten that can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea, but which may fall short of the gut-damaging immune rampage of full blown celiac.

For these individuals, one of the challenges has been finding delicious gluten-free products without making a taste compromise (by the way, the cookies from my recent gift box review are also gluten free—and amazing).  In fact, there are whole support groups around this issue.  And from my perspective as a foodie, I like to feel that my culinary skills are up to the challenge of feeding anyone with “special requirements” from “gluten free” to “really picky” (can you tell I have kids?)

I distinctly remember my first dinner party where a guest was severely gluten intolerant.   My repertoire was sufficient to accommodate the needs, but I was concerned about alternatives to staples.  When I discovered a stash of gluten free crackers I had accidentally purchased it was a godsend—no last minute shopping or rethinking of the appetizers.  So imagine my delight when a package of San-J Organic Tamari (translation: wheat/gluten free soy sauce) appeared on my doorstep for purposes of this review (disclaimer:  this item was accepted for purposes of this review; my opinions however are genuine).

Soy sauce has long held a special place in our house—even beyond its use in Chinese cooking.  My kids love dribbling it over vegetables; since salt is great at masking bitter flavors, it is a smart move on their part.  I sometimes resurrect the low calorie version of popcorn that was a dance department trade secret in college.  By sprinkling soy sauce over unbuttered popcorn you create a taste treat minus the fat.

So how would our household react to a gluten free variation on this theme?

Cauliflower w/San J Tamari in Fall Dinner

Cauliflower w/San J Tamari in Fall Dinner

Given the bountiful vegetable harvest that we are not in the midst of, we decided to taste test it on cauliflower. And the verdict: a unanimous thumbs up (even from the daughter who detected the beets in the chocolate beet cake).  So with an increasing awareness of the problems some folks have with gluten, I may just swap the soy sauce in my cupboard for this.

The San J Tamari comes in standard serving bottles as well as the cute travel packets pictured below.  Gluten-avoidance-to-go!!

San J Tamari Travel Packs

San J Tamari Travel Packs

By the way, the entrée for my gluten free dinner party was Cashew Crusted Mahi Mahi—already dredged in cornstarch, rather than flour.  My other “company” seafood dish is Grilled Ahi Tuna—complete with soy sauce.  With the Tamari now entrenched in my pantry, perhaps I should plan another dinner party.

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