Let's Grill and Chill, Safely.
In the grand list of summer plans, big and small, attending a BBQ is usually on the agenda a handful of times during the sunny, warm months. It is an activity that encourages relaxation, delicious food, cold drinks, and enjoyable time spent with friends or family. Sometimes both! However, when approaching a BBQ in an unfamiliar setting, or amidst a family gathering that has a wide variety of dishes available, the BBQ itself can become a stressful occasion.
Let me be up front about the food: I truly love grilled hot dogs (all-beef) and cheeseburgers (medium rare). Always have, always will, and I won't let my food restrictions stop me from enjoying one of these great grilled options during the summer. Of course they're not healthy and well, we know that, but indulging in these guys is a definite treat reserved especially for hot summer days amidst your favorite dining companions.
In terms of how I choose to approach a BBQ amidst friends, I try to take the casual-but-alert stance. I am checking as many labels as I can on the food, and asking the host if they are aware of specific GF items. If it's a group of close friends and some know of my dietary restrictions, they will be super aware and helpful to make sure I can eat something. I still double-check packaging labels and check to see if GF foods are grilled on the same space as non-GF rolls etc. If they are, then I'll skip the grilled options altogether due to potential cross contamination. If it's only meat and veggies on the grill, then I'm thrilled and have multiple (AKA too many) plates of food. :)
While my family takes every precaution possible when having us over for a BBQ, there are still items I need to avoid. Non-GF rolls are available, but are grilled inside on the stove top, away from the meat, which is wonderful. And I'm the first to take my meal off of the buffet so as to avoid any possible cross contamination when another guest grabs a roll for their burger or hot dog, and may accidentally touch the GF food with their gluten-covered hand (from said roll).
It may sound silly, and extremely protective, especially when almost everything available is Celiac-safe, but the tiniest crumb from a roll could cause major digestive distress later (or worse). I truly appreciate how careful my family is when planning and serving meals that are almost entirely gluten free, knowing that those extra items I cannot eat will be nowhere near the foods I plan to enjoy.
Something else to love about a BBQ afternoon? The side dishes! I love topping my bunless (by choice) burgers with too many pickles, and grabbing a handful of easily GF potato chips to pair with a couple perfectly-grilled hot dogs. Top that with a beautiful salad (we are trying to be a tiny bit healthy - we are!) and a piece of fresh watermelon. There you go!
Know another great BBQ option? A shrimp cocktail platter! For those who prefer a non-meat plate, or those who want a sea-side with their burger, shrimp is a wonderful (and welcome) addition to any summer gathering. Not to mention, shrimp is naturally gluten free! Just be wary of shellfish allergies, we care about them as well. :)
A great, well-rounded BBQ is filled with plenty of choices (gluten free and non) for everyone to enjoy. However, any BBQ I host in the future will be entirely gluten free. You can leave your rolls at the door. ;-)
Food Note: I personally choose to eat my cheeseburgers and hot dogs bunless. No real reason aside from I've been doing that my entire life and why make the change now. I've had GF buns that are OK, but I definitely prefer them au natural. You do you when putting together your perfect burger or topping-covered hot dog, as I see it there's no wrong way to enjoy a beautiful BBQ afternoon. Except if you want that burger well done, then we may have to talk. ;-)