Gluten Free Grilling – Avoid Cross Contamination this Summer

Gluten Free Grilling – Avoid Cross Contamination this Summer Here's an awesome guest blog by our friend Amber that is perfect for summer and the upcoming weekend, enjoy!   Summertime and the livin’s easy. Unless you have Celiac Disease, then that statement might be rephrased to: Summertime and I’m stressin’ over what people feed me. (Must be sung to the tune of Sublime’s Doin’ Time) The longer I have Celiac Disease, the more I learn. Sometimes, my learning is from my own misfortunes or misconceptions myself, and those who prepare food for me have been led to believe. Gluten is quite sneaky, and for the last two summers since my diagnosis, he’s been hanging out on the grill, and joining me at BBQs, without my knowledge of course. Talk about a party crasher! That might explain why I was so sick two summers in a row, I was constantly cross-contaminating myself! SO, I’ve got FIVE FACTS/TIPS to make your summertime experience a safe and stress free one, so you can focus more on getting a tan, than getting glutened! As always, when you are dining out at another house, remember to talk to your host, most people are unaware and are willing to accommodate, if you educate them on how to! The high heat of the grill does NOT kill gluten. This is something I didn’t know until this year, until I read an article by the NFCA. Therefore, if non-gluten free items have been cooked on the grill such as marinades, sauces, or buns, the grill is now contaminated. In order to remove the gluten, the grill must be meticulously cleaned! Unless I have done the scrubbing myself, I do not allow my food to be cooked right ON the grill, which brings me to the next tidbit.
  1. Aluminum Foil ALWAYS. Think of aluminum foil as a protective barrier between your food and the potential of any gluten that could be lurking on the grill. The aluminum will still allow your food to be cooked, but it will keep it safe. Not grilling at home? Bring your own tinfoil, and ask for your food to be cooked on the top rack or in a separate corner of the grill to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Separate Utensils. Cooking in a gluten free and gluten filled home, then you better have two of every grill utensil! Label or have a different color to indicate gluten free utensils, so whoever is cooking won’t become confused and accidently do the old “whoops I used the gluten filled spatula on your gluten free food” move. Again, if you’re not at home, and unsure of utensil availability, bring your own! Also, if you do have a gluten free/gluten filled house hold, stay away from plastic utensils. Gluten particles cling to plastic more easily!
  3. Channel your inner hawk with whoever is on the grill, discretely of course. That’s right, I am suggesting you stand by or watch whoever is cooking your food. We’re all human and we make mistakes, especially if the person cooking your food isn’t used to having to be so cautious. Keep a watchful eye of their utensil usage, and ensure that they aren’t cross contaminating. Feel weird just watching? Go over and strike up a conversation! Offer to help, compliment the house, the yard, talk about whatever until your food has been cooked through and has been handed to you on a plate. It may feel awkward at first, making small talk, or feeling as if you’re watching over the other person, BUT this ensures your health and safety, and the host probably won’t even notice, they just will attest it to your friendly personality!
  4. Serve Yourself First. It sounds rude, right? Saying that YOU get served first or should be the first in line for food BUT when it comes to side dishes and platters such as salads, fruits, and even condiments, things tend to get sloppy the more people that have gone and served themselves. Trust me, I know this from a “getting glutened” experience where I ate a salad, that somehow croutons had found their way into….SO, it may seem a bit brazen, especially if it’s not your house or someone you feel comfortable with, but think of it as a safety issue. If you’re concerned about contamination occurring in the kitchen before you even serve yourself, bring your own sides!
  5. When in doubt, go with out and Y.O.F. If you still feel unsure, or are not comfortable with approaching your host, or would rather not risk the chance of being cross contaminated, BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! No shame in wanting to be safe than sorry! For anyone who follows my blog, you know I am a big advocate of this. I often show up to parties with my Isobag or Lunch Box in tow. Since I don’t want to feel left out and want the normal BBQ experience like everyone else, prior to the event/party/BBQ, I ask the host what is being served, so I can replicate my own version. That way, I can enjoy the BBQ with everyone else, and feel at ease knowing my food is 100% gluten free!