Six Ways to Stay Gluten-Free/Paleo At Cookouts

BlogHer Original Post

Summer means farmers market season, fresh herbs and vegetables, and lots of grilling, which we're celebrating in this Light & Fresh Summer Grilling series, brought to you by Michelob ULTRA Light Cider. In Iowa, it means the sweetest corn you’ll ever taste and big red tomatoes I eat like apples. I love Midwestern summers, especially now that I’m not morbidly obese and so out of shape that active summer events make me cringe. I have found a new love for the season.

As a totally gluten-free and mostly Paleo household, summer is the one time of year I don’t worry about every dinner party or cookout. In most cases during the summer, people grill meat and drink beer. That makes it easy for us—we skip the bun, double the meat, and substitute cold cider.

But there are still some precautions we take when going to a cookout to stay safe, especially when it comes to the kids and cross-contamination. We’ve learned some tips and tricks over the past few years on staying gluten-free and/or Paleo at cookouts.

Tomato skewers

  1. If possible, let the host know you have some dietary issues, and ask the host what they will be serving so you can be prepared. Most people are very accommodating and will go out of their way to make sure you stay safe and enjoy your food.
  2. Watch for sauces and condiments. Most are safe, but read the labels anyway. If there’s a homemade sauce or marinade, ask what’s in it.
  3. Eat things without ingredients. This is pretty simple and straightforward and the easiest way to stay “clean” while at a BBQ. Stick with fruits, vegetables, and meats. Avoid casseroles and salads with a ton of ingredients unless you have a recipe from the person who made it and can be sure it’s safe!
  4. Protect your food with foil, grill baskets, or cedar planks. If the grill is also being used to toast up buns and breads, you can protect your food by placing a piece of foil underneath or cooking your food on an alternate surface. You’ll still get the grilled taste and flavor, but avoid the concern of gluten cross-contamination.
  5. Use separate utensils. Remember: if you’re using the same knife to spread mustard on your sausage that someone else just used to slice open a bun, you’ve once again opened yourself up to cross-contamination.
  6. Bring your own (and enough to share). As a fully gluten-free family, it's pretty common for us to show up to someone’s house with a cooler packed with food. It’s just habit, and ensures my children will have adequate food if there’s little gluten-free fare at the party. Ask what you can bring to share. Summer parties are a great time to show off your culinary skills with salads and kabobs, and at least this way you know you’re not going to go hungry.

Paleo and gluten-free eating doesn’t have to be difficult. Eat Real Food. It’s pretty simple, but if you have Celiac or a severe gluten-intolerance, taking the extra steps to ensure your safety is well worth the ounce of prevention.

What tips can you share to help others avoid cross-contamination at cookouts this summer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This post is part of the BlogHer Light & Fresh Summer Grilling series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Michelob ULTRA Light Cider and BlogHer.

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