Summer Time Celiac: Gluten-free Grilling and Cookout Safety

Good day to you.  We, TR Crumbley and GFDougie, are collaborating on a joint blog post in regard to summer grilling and cookouts with safety and health in mind for you, the gluten sensitive and celiac survivor.  We hope you find this information beneficial for your own social summer cookout event or in attending another’s as a guest.

Memorial Day has just passed a few weeks ago, ushering in the beginning of summer.  The incoming summer season brings all the fun, classic outdoor activities we all love; amongst them outdoor grilling and the equally important side dishes at these cookouts.

Those of us with gluten sensitivity or surviving with celiac may assume that grilled foods are easily gluten-free.  However, the possibilities of cross contamination exist even when cooking on a hot grill.  For those of you who may not know, cross contamination is the instance where gluten-free food is exposed to gluten through actions such as cooking on the same surface of or using the same utensils on foods containing gluten.

Today we want to share some practical tips to help minimize the risk of cross contamination while enjoying the experience of a great summer grill and the neighborhood cookout for you, gluten-free.  Social outings such as these for those of you with gluten sensitivity and celiac survival needs will make such outings easier for all of us; that said here are some tips to live by:

(Note: Even taking these precautions does not guarantee 100% prevention of cross contamination. Always be cautious and aware when cooking in the presence of gluten.)

1.  On a day before you attend the cookout, please talk to the hosts and let them know you’ll need to eat gluten-free and let them know why.  Depending on how comfortable you are with the hosts, and how knowledgeable they are of your gluten sensitivity or celiac survival needs, be sure to have a detailed dialogue so the hosts knows of your food restrictions.  They may be even flexible enough to use a dedicated grilling surface just for you, gluten-free.

2.  Clean the grill or have the hosts clean the grill thoroughly before cooking.  By having the grill cleaned beforehand, you’ll reduce any amount of any residual gluten from the cooking surface and reduce gluten cross contamination chances.

3.  On the day of the cookout, do not assume your hosts remember everything about gluten cross contamination.  Provide your hosts with a friendly reminder to dedicate a portion of the grill for gluten-free grilling or have them cook your foods first.

4.  Wrap your food to reduce the risk of gluten contamination.  For foods such as corn-on-the-cob that can be cooked while wrapped, wrap the food in aluminum foil and then cook on the grill.  You’ll get that same grilled flavor without any potential cross contamination of gluten.

5.  Keep cooking and serving utensils and serving platters separate for gluten-free.  By doing so, gluten can’t cross contaminate from one food to another.

What about the side dishes, gluten-free, at the cookout for the gluten sensitive and the celiac survivor?  Baked beans via Carol Kicinski, Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Creamy Broccoli and Carrot Slaw via yummly, and Three Bean Salad are some of the many comforting dishes you can easily make gluten-free.  Other gluten-free suggestions are gluten-free chips and salsa or dip. Be as creative as your wallet and mind will allow you to be.

In closing, we think education and dialogue are important tools in regard to the gluten sensitive and celiac survivor in having a positive experience at the grill and neighborhood cookout this summer.  With a little preparation and communication, a gluten-free and cross contamination free cookout can be enjoyed by you.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free this summer.

Peace be with you.

TR Crumbley and GFDougie

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