The summer is for spending time outdoors, enjoying the weather, and BBQs with friends and family. But with all the gluten and dairy hiding in so many foods, it can be a mine field for anyone with food intolerances. I’ve gone to – and hosted – plenty of summer parties and barbecues, and it can be tricky to navigate making sure what you eat is safe on a gluten and dairy-free diet – but not impossible!
In this post, I want to share 5 easy tips for enjoying summer parties and BBQs while still maintaining your GFDF diet:
1. Enjoy foods you know are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
As with the first tip is to start with foods that you already know are gluten-free and dairy-free. These are any fruits and vegetables, and usually meat like hamburger parties. Of course, you’ll want to ask to check out ingredient labels if hamburgers are pre-packaged and any hot dogs.
Most salads if they don’t have dressing or cheese mixed in are probably okay, and corn or fruit salad are very likely going to be gluten and dairy-free as well. Avoid breaded products or anything with milk, cream, or cheese.
2. Check your meat and bring your own buns.
Gluten hides in a lot of processed meats, so if you’re cooking up (or someone else is) hamburger patties or hot dogs, you’ll want to make sure to check ingredient lists.
In both hamburger patties and hot dogs, gluten can hide as a binding ingredient. Your best bet when it comes to hamburgers is to make your own patties from scratch. For hot dogs, there are plenty of gluten-free options out there, so do some research to find out which brands are safe.
When it comes to the vehicle you use for hamburgers and hot dogs, be aware that normal hamburger and hot dog buns do contain gluten. You’ll want to bring your own gluten-free buns, or go an alternative route. I’ll often forgo a bun entirely and use extra lettuce for a lettuce wrap, or tear some lettuce up and eat it as a salad. It all tastes the same going down, I just have to use a fork instead of my hands!
3. Plan to bring a dish to share.
As with most get-togethers, one of your best bets for making sure you have options that are gluten-free and dairy-free, is to bring something yourself. I like to bring along a side dish that I know is safe for me, but others will enjoy too. Something like a fruit salad, green salad with my own dressing, or gluten-free dairy-free cornbread are some easy dishes that I’ll bring along to make sure there’s at least something for me to eat and to share.
Ask the host what you can bring and make sure that even if its gluten and dairy-free, it’s also appealing to everyone. You don’t even have to tell someone it doesn’t have gluten or dairy – they’d might be surprised to learn you’ve made something so delicious without them!
4. Know where hidden gluten and dairy is found.
Gluten and dairy can hide in all kinds of different foods like sauces, dressings, dips, potato or pasta salads, marinades, buns, and chips that you’ll find at a summer party or barbecue. When you know what names to look for in ingredient lists, it can make this easier if you can get your hands on the original packaging.
One of my little secrets is that I carry around a copy of my GFDF Take Along Cards so that I always have a point of reference when I can sneak a peek at the ingredient list of a food. But if you can’t check out what’s in something, you can always just skip that food just in case. Sometimes it’s a little easier to be safe than risk feeling icky the next day.
5. BYOB – Make sure any alcohol you drink is gluten-free.
Did you know that a lot of alcohol has gluten?? It’s one of those things that a lot of people don’t know, but most beers and plenty of liquors do contain gluten. But don’t worry – gluten-free beers do exist if that’s what you enjoy!
My favorite summer day alcoholic drink is hard cider. Hard ciders are a great option and most that you’ll find are gluten-free. You’ll want to check the labels on the bottle to be sure, but as a general rule, most ciders are safe on a gluten-free diet.
Whatever you’re drinking, be sure to check that its gluten-free and safe so you don’t have tummy troubles later.
I hope that whether you find yourself hosting or attending summer parties or barbecues this summer that these tips and resources are useful for you. The bottom line is to have fun – and don’t worry too much about these things. Food should be enjoyed, not feared. So be aware of what you put on your plate, but don’t overthink it.
Here’s to many fun summer events!
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If you love this summertime article, you might also enjoy my 25 gluten-free dairy-free summer recipe roundup. You can check that out here or by clicking the photo below.