Grilling out, particularly pot-luck style, can make gluten-free summer barbeques challenging for families with children who are living with celiac disease.
“When going to a cookout, parents with a child who is gluten-free because of celiac disease or a wheat allergy need to make sure that cross-contamination has been avoided and that they read labels carefully,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, MS, RD, CNSC, LD, from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Especially if gathering with a group who may not understand the particulars of a gluten-free diet.”
Take a gluten-free dish or two with you to a cookout, such as a bowl of mixed berries, baked beans, corn on the cob or a gluten-free potato salad, so that you know your child will have something to eat. Sharrett suggests bringing a gluten-free bun with you to the cookout or using a large piece of lettuce as a substitute for a hamburger bun.
“Closely watch the condiments. Read the labels, and if squeeze bottles aren’t being used, try to be first in line to avoid contamination from knives that have touched bread containing gluten,” said Sharrett.
According to Sharrett, a family who has experience eating gluten-free may want to offer to host the cookout to ensure all the details have been covered to keep the experience safe. Even crumbs from food containing gluten being left behind can be harmful for a child with celiac disease if they mix with a gluten-free dish.
In order to grill safely gluten-free, make sure only plain meat and vegetables end up on the grill. Parents should take the following precautions:
- Ask if the meat is plain. Seasoning or soup mixes containing wheat may have been added to the meat.
- Check for marinades or sauces. Marinades or sauces may contain wheat, especially if they contain soy sauce. Some soy sauce can be purchased gluten-free. Watch out for marinades made with beer.
- Check for meat substitutes. Meat substitutes, like veggie burgers, often look like the real thing, but can contain wheat.
- Wrap your food in foil while grilling. Wrapping your meat or corn on the cob in foil is crucial if you don’t know if the grill has been cleaned, especially after marinades containing gluten have been used or buns have been warmed on the grill.
- Make sure the spatula only touches plain meats or vegetables. Cross contamination with buns or marinades could be dangerous.
“The long-term effect of anyone with celiac disease being exposed to gluten is damage to the intestine. Some kids experience symptoms immediately,” said Sharrett. “As a result, many parents choose to eat at home in a controlled environment, but group cookouts are possible if you are cautious.”
To view gluten-free cookout recipes from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, visit the blog, 700 Children’s.
Experts at Nationwide Children`s Hospital say there is a way to avoid foods with gluten at summer cookouts. Keeping foods separate can help prevent contamination.