At V’s B-day party a few days ago I was chatting with a friend about her kids’ upcoming b-day party, to which V is invited to. “Oh, by the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you. What should I do for Victoria? I’m getting gluten-free pizza, we’ll have some fruit, and…” she hesitated for a second and I knew what it was about. “This is perfect” – I said – “And I will bring a cupcake for her.”
May is Celiac awareness month. I’ve been spending a lot of time here writing about diabetes. Truth is, Celiac often takes backseat to diabetes but once in a while it deserves its time under the sun. The combination of diabetes and celiac makes parties – especially birthday parties – the bane of our existence. We can’t just show up. We must talk to the host, figure out what kind of food is being served, and make sure that we bring something for V if gluten-free options are limited/not available. We certainly do not expect anyone to provide a GF meal or cake just because V is coming over. At the same time, have you noticed how most parties are glutenous feasts? Pizza, cake, sandwiches, all filled with lots and lots of gluten. And carbs, of course.
Luckily it’s easy to find gluten-free pizza and cupcakes nowadays. I’m not much of a baker, so I am thankful for being able to stop at Trader Joe’s and pick up a 4-pack of GF cupcakes that taste good and do not cost an arm and a leg. (If you ever pay attention to the prices of GF foods, you sometimes wonder if they use magical unicorn hair in the ingredients, because the prices can be quite astronomical.) V often shows up to a party with her own pizza and/or cupcake. She is a real trooper. I don’t know what it must be like for her to watch everyone eat everything she used to love but can no longer have. We try our best to find good substitutes, and for the most part we find some really good-tasting gluten-free stuff, but yet it stings.
For V’s own B-day parties I follow one simple rule: everything is gluten-free. I want her to have at least one day in a year when we say yes to everything. Crackers? Go ahead! Pizza? Sure, how many slices? Cake? Coming up! We’ve served GF sandwiches, cold cuts and crackers, pizza, and of course cake. Those more skilled at baking can create fantastic cakes from GF flour mixes. Me, I am mildly terrified of baking, so I take the easy way out. There are many GF mixes available and they taste really good. I’m surprised at how much all other kids enjoy our GF parties. In fact, this year V had a joint party with her friend. When coordinating the party with friend’s Mom, I suggested that she can bring a regular cake and I will bring a GF one. The Mom asked if it was OK for both girls to have just one cake – the gluten-free one. Turns out her daughter had been raving about it from last year’s party, saying it was the best cake she’s ever eaten. I think she’s got a good point.