If catering for extra family who are visit over Christmas is enough of a worry, don’t even begin to think what catering for a children’s party is like, especially if the guest of honour is a coeliac. Often mistaken as a fad, gluten intolerance in coeliacs is extremely seriously, and gluten must be avoided at all costs. This isn’t just a case of breaking out in a mildly annoying rash if gluten is ingested, it’s an autoimmune condition that attacks the intestines causing permanent damage.
So, with such a serious illness to consider, most venues’ conventional food won’t be adequate, so it’s probably safest not to outsource the catering. However, worse than a room full of restaurant critics, kids won’t be polite and pretend to like whatever’s served before them: choose the wrong menu and it’ll end up on the floor. And blame the slightly creepy looking red haired clown for this, but food should also be fun, and preferably accompanied by a toy.
Cold food’s probably easiest as it can be prepared and stored in advance – a chicken salad for example. R+R Packaging do the most adorable Pet Pax food packaging kits for children’s meals, injecting a bit of fun into the presentation. Pure fruit juice served in disposable cups and straws add to the take away theme, although to really bring the theme together order personalised napkins with matching balloons and goodie bags to make the look complete.
One major headache can be the cake. Avoiding gluten means normal flour is definitely not allowed. Many professional cake makers have alternative recipes that avoid gluten, but it’s probably best to seek a specialist maker to be absolutely certain that it’s 100% gluten free.
Of course, if you’d prefer to make the cake yourself, but a large cake seems a little overwhelming, make cupcakes. Choose a gluten-free flour and follow the recipe on the pack to make the sponge (remember to check the ingredients for the cake and frosting for gluten). Decorate one a bit more elaborately, and insert a candle for when ‘Happy Birthday’ is being sung. Individual cupcake boxes means the terrors can take their cupcake home without making a mess.
The best way to guarantee kids will eat their food is to make sure they’re worn out first. If it’s a party with play facilities encourage lots of running around to let off steam, followed by the sit down meal. It’s best to be aware of the fussy eaters in advance and, if all else fails, there cannot be a child in the land who doesn’t like chips – as long as they’re guaranteed gluten-free!