Eating Safely at Family BBQ

in Celiac, The Celiac Expert
Published: July 2, 2010

Photo: Thinkstock
Q. Can you give me tips on how I can eat safely at barbecues?

A. Summer is a great time for eating and socializing outdoors, and there are plenty of menu options for those with celiac disease. Here are some tips for a stress- and gluten-free barbecue season:

Planning – Call ahead to find out what’s on the menu. It’s often possible for items to be prepared without sauces, marinades or other unsafe ingredients or for a gluten-free sauce to be substituted. If there is no opportunity to determine in advance what’s being served, arrive early to speak with the host and check how items are being prepared.

At the event – If a marinade or sauce for the main protein food contains gluten, ask to have it left off your portion before grilling. Be sure to also check hamburger ingredients for added fillers, as these often contain gluten. Clean the grill where the gluten-free items are being made or have the items cooked on a piece of foil.

Request that croutons be left off the salad or keep a serving of salad to the side before the croutons and dressing are added. Check the dressing ingredients: if it’s off-limits, oil and vinegar (except malt vinegar) or oil and lemon are easy substitutes.

You can help – If it’s easier for the host, bring your own gluten-free beef, salmon or chicken burger or hot dogs and gluten-free buns. Offer to bring items such as a salad (e.g. green, gluten-free pasta, potato, coleslaw or quinoa), a vegetable tray with gluten-free dip, hummus and gluten-free crackers, or a fruit tray or fruit salad. This way if there are no gluten-free items at the event, at least there will be something for you to eat.

Gluten-Free Summer Eating

Food Items:

  • Meat, poultry or fish
    What to Watch For:
    Marinades may contain gluten. Burgers may contain fillers (wheat flour, wheat starch, bread crumbs) or seasonings with wheat flour, wheat starch or hydrolyzed wheat protein.
  • Salads
    What to Watch For:
    Croutons and salad dressing. Latter may contain malt vinegar, seasonings with wheat flour, wheat starch or hydrolyzed wheat protein, or soy sauce with wheat.
  • Condiments
    What to Watch For:
    Ketchup, relish, mayonnaise and mustard are usually gluten-free. Some specialty mustards may contain wheat flour.
  • Chips
    What to Watch For:
    Some potato and taco chips have seasonings with wheat flour, wheat starch or hydrolyzed wheat protein. Some brands of plain potato chips have added wheat flour.

Shelley Case, RD, is an international celiac nutrition expert, consulting dietitian and author of Gluten-Free: The Definitive Resource Guide. Learn more at Shelley Case is on the advisory boards of the Canadian Celiac Association, the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten-Free Intolerance Group.

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