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colin Povey

Looking Fo Rhelp

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Greetings all,

Brand new here. I cannot offer much help to you individually, but if you can help me, I can help some of those who suffer from Celiac's disease enjoy eating out at parties!

I am a chef working for a catering company. We often cater large (up to 800+) person events, as well as lots of weddings, anniversary parties, and similar events. We average 8-15 events per week, except for the summer.

We are getting more and more requests for gluten-free foods. We also get requests for vegetarian and vegan foods.

Now, you will have to trust me on this, but when you are preparing food for 800 people, always in a 'foreign' kitchen (we have no dining facility where we work-all of our food is transported to event halls or homes) it is hard to track and ensure the safety of one or two 'odd' meals. Therefore, what I am looking for is one meal that we can prepare, preferably one that can be made ahead and frozen, that will meet all three of these dietary restrictions:

Gluten-free

Vegetarian (no animals)

Vegan (vegetarian plus no animal products, like milk, eggs, or honey)

In this way, we can accommodate a lot of last-minute requests (you would not believe the number of people who walk up to us AFTER the meal has been served and say "I forgot to mention to the bride/host that I am a _ _ _ _ and do you have anything I can eat?" Seriously, it happens weekly.

We don't need a lot of recipes, as we are not a restaurant, just an event catering company, so most people only run into our cooking infrequently, thus we don't need a lot of variety - just one good recipe.

I ran across a recipe for a vegetarian shepherds pie. It uses butter and milk, but I figure we can sub soy milk.

So, question 1 is: Can those who suffer from Celiac's safely ingest soy milk? What about rice milk? Almond milk (there we would run into nut allergies-ANOTHER problem we have to deal with)

I also noticed that it uses veggie burgers, which contain bulgur which is a no-no for celiac's, and cheese, a no-go for vegans.

So, question 2, and the big one, does anyone out there have a GREAT entree recipe (the amount of work does not really matter) that is both vegan and gluten-free, and one that can preferably be frozen? If so, it would allow us to satisfy our most common food limitations, and allow people to not feel left out at events.

I so, you can post it here or even better, if you can e-mail it to me, I and others would be eternally grateful.

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I make a gluten-free vegan lasagna using Tinkyada's lasagna noodles, and avocado instead of ricotta(but just one layer). And, of course, no cheese on the top. Everyone loves it! (Haven't tried freezing it, myself.) I usually have layers involving spinach and mushrooms, zucchini, and sweet peppers.

A vegan stew is easy to prepare and a good "generalized" winter meal, and potato starch, rice flour, or cornstarch can be used to thicken it.

Sauteed veggies (I usually would do carrots, sweet onions, sweet peppers, summer squash, and mushrooms) with plenty of seasoning served over rice is good too. (There are so many ways to flavor it.... I use olive oil for the sauteeing, and vary how I spice it - sometimes just olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of lemon juice.)

Also, don't forget things like bean soups (sooooo easy to make vegan and gluten-free) or bean salads.

And, finally, shepherd's pie is really easy to make gluten-free and vegan - I just use an appropriate broth for my mashed potatoes, and make sure to include beans and mushrooms in the base. You could use soy milk too... I don't because my husband isn't a fan of the flavor.

I didn't put specific recipes, because these are all very malleable types of dishes. You can easily imagine how to make these vegan and gluten-free with either no substitutions or simple ones, and you can vary the exact tastes so much. If you want me to give examples of exactly how I'd prepare it... I can do that. I just don't cook that way in general. :D

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I would not advise using soy milk as so many of us are also intolerant of soy also. Many of us also avoid nightshade vegetables, so I am not sure if any one dish would be able to accommodate our needs. Probably as Tiffany says a stir fry over rice would be the safest bet for everyone, using a sauce that does not contain soy.

I also second the idea of a veggie stew--root vegetables particularly lend themselves to this and I have a recipe somewhere for a delicious version; you can include the squashes and sweet potatoes with suitable seasonings for those too..

Good luck in your efforts. We do so appreciate caterers who realize how difficult it is for us to attend catered events.

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I think the bean soup is a wonderful idea although that might not be so good for the summer.

You could do bean enchiladas, topped with strips of pepper and onion. I make vegan "refried" beans by cooking the pinto beans with some chili powder and onion, then partially mashing with a potato masher. I like a bit of chunkiness to mine. You could use these or any whole bean. I don't put cheese on my enchiladas.

Rice and beans is another option although not particularly fancy.

You could do rice or corn pasta with tomato sauce.

Or slices of polenta with tomato sauce. This is nice when topped with pumpkin seeds for protein.

I have recently made a potato pie that would work if you subbed in black beans for the ground beef.

To make it I used a can of Southwestern style corn (black beans, corn, red peppers), a can of creamed corn, a chopped sauteed onion and had a topoping of mashed potatoes. The recipe called for Mexi Corn but the store I went to didn't have it. Obviously you could use fresh ingredients instead of canned. For the potatoes, I used Idaho baking potatoes, peeled. After boiling, I drained off most of the water, then mashed them with Nucoa Margarine. It has soybean oil but not the soy protein and no milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake covered until heated through. It was VERY good!

If you want a vegan burger patty with no soy, you can use Sunshine burgers. They make a variety of flavors. I like the Southwestern.

Quinoa is another option. It's high in protein. I make it as a pilaf. I use chicken broth but you could certainly use vegetable. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery and some peas or black beans for added protein.

But the most important thing as far as gluten goes is that you want to keep the food safe from cross contamination. The pot and colander you use must not be used for any food containing gluten.

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I think risottos are a good safe choice. They can be made vegan and gluten free. Butternut squash risotto, pea, lots of choices.

Thank you so much for wanting to accomodate! Many chefs throw up their hands. We appreciate your efforts!

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Thank you all so much for the information, and please Please PLEASE keep the ideas coming!!!

By the way, no soups, please! Shudder!!! Caterers HATE soup-all soups. While the costs are great, they are massively messy to serve to large numbers of people. If a bride spills soup on herself-even though we strongly advised her against ordering soup-it's the caterer's fault, even if there is no staff within 100 yards!

I did not realize about pots and colanders-this does complicate things :(

How about grilled vegetables with rice or a baked sweet potato as a side dish? While this is not a 'freezable' menu, it would be easy for us to do weekly, and would seem to avoid cross most if not all contamination issues. While we do occasionally grill pieces of bread, I imagine the heat of the grill would destroy any gluten (?).

By the way, would a red (i.e. pasta) sauce generally be gluten free? We have found some corn-flour based pasta and could possibly do something with this (have not tried it yet). Do members of the nightshade family really cause even more problems for Celiac's?

We make our own salad dressings and use Xantham gum as a thickener in some of them. Does that cause a gluten problem? If not, I think we are gluten-free there.

Remember, I am trying to come come up with a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free entree for catered events, like weddings. One entree would be enough, and would help up make our food more accessible to customers and ease our preparations.

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