I am a mother raising a teen with Celiac disease. Cooking and eating gluten-free is something that has become natural to our family. But every now and then, I’m reminded of the difficulties of having a teenager daughter with Celiac diesease, and then delighted when we overcome our latest hiccup.
Our most recent triumph was Sarah’s turn about dance last month. This is the school dance when the “rules” literally get turned around – the girls ask the guys and the girls plan the night. With those duties comes planning what Restaurant to eat at prior to the dance.
And thus comes one of Sarah’s biggest fears – eating out! When most kids can’t wait to go out to dinner, Sarah constantly wants to stay home. That’s the only way Sarah can be sure she’s eating safely.
My motherly instincts instantly kicked in and I thought how am I going to make Sarah feel normal like the rest of her peers and still enjoy the experience of a school dance? You know in the cartoons when a character has a light bulb above their head – that was me when I realized the solution. We’d invite Sarah’s group of friends to our house and recreate the restaurant experience in our home.
That’s exactly what we did – I worked on a teen friendly gluten-free menu (which was fairly easy given our latest cookbook) and Sarah worked hard on the perfect table spread. Complete with gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad with ranch dressing, an early gluten-free birthday cake for Sarah, and napkins made into tuxedos, the night was a success! The group of high schoolers arrived early for pictures, enjoyed a completely gluten-free dinner and dessert and left in their limo headed for the dance.
As a chef and cookbook author the most rewarding part of the night was when Sarah’s friends helped themselves to seconds of the gluten-free dishes. As a mother, it was seeing my Sarah (as I often call her) blend in with her friends and fully enjoy the high school milestone of attending a school dance.
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