By Bridget

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, everyone across the country is dusting off their white shoes and barbecues. The smell of a fired up grill always brings me right into summer mode. Between the grilled chicken, burgers, and veggies, outdoor cooking is synonymous with warm weather vacation. Unfortunately for gluten-free eaters, there is gluten lurking in many of these summertime favorites. So how do we still enjoy the weekend without fearing the hidden sources of gluten? Here are some simple ways to keep your eyes open to what does (and doesn’t!) have gluten!

  1. Beware of marinated chicken. Sadly, barbecue sauce has caramel food coloring in it, one of the trigger phrases for potential gluten threat. Instead of marinating your chicken in BBQ sauce, try making your own dressing and marinate the chicken overnight. My favorite recipe, (called “Newport Chicken,” which probably screams beach to people from New England to Southern California!) consists of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, basil, garlic, and pepper to taste. Just be sure that your balsamic vinegar is just that, and doesn’t contain any other fillers or isn’t confused with “malt vinegar.” This recipe is one of the easiest to mix up, and gives chicken a great and light “summery” taste!
  2. Double-check those burgers! Unless you’re buying freshly ground beef, a lot of companies include breadcrumbs in their patties to help fill them out and keep the flavor palatable. Veggie burgers often do this too, containing hidden trace amounts of gluten that can certainly ruin your summer feast. If you’re not looking to buy fresh beef and form your own burgers (or just want to try the veggie version), check out Dr. Praeger’s line of frozen foods. They have a huge line of dedicated gluten-free products, and don’t use any “fake foods,” so you’re sure what’s in your burger!
  3. Watch out for dogs! Sadly, hot dogs are pretty much stuffed with anything and everything. From caramel food coloring to filler grains, most of these are definitely NOT gluten-free. My advice would be to reach for the chicken or gluten-free burger, just to be sure that you wont start feeling that dog before the end of the party.
  4. If you need to, be cautious of cross contamination. Although gluten-free eaters suffering from an intolerance can be a little more flexible on this front, the Celiac’s out there have to be very careful about their food being cooked alongside the gluten-filled versions. The easiest way to cut down on any potential hazards is to use aluminum foil. While you may not get those beautiful grill marks across your veggies and chicken (they’re carcinogenic anyway!), you can rest assured that your food is being cooked with no risk of illness!

As you head out to a BBQ party this weekend, have these tips in mind for keeping your grilling safe and your stomach happy.

What other things have you discovered over your years of being gluten-free? Any other good chicken recipes or ways of getting your whole party eating gluten-free without even knowing it?