With warmer weather and sunnier skies, families everywhere are hitting their local community fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, and festivals. Fun activities await but the fun foods that so many look forward to are often off-limits to people with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders. Here are a few tips to safely maneuvering event foods.
Your local event may have a website with food vendors listed, giving you an opportunity to investigate what safe foods may be available.
Pack a stash of your favorite snacks to bring along so hunger and temptation don’t lead to risky eating.
Day of the event
- Be ready to ask questions about cross-contamination and ingredients (if the answers aren’t clear it’s usually best to move on).
- Stay clear of funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and any food truck or stand offering these or similar gluten-containing food items as these are gluten danger zones.
- Beware of BBQ spots – while this may seem to be a safe choice, the sauces may be a source of gluten, including smoke flavor, which can contain a derivative of barley. Also, even if an item itself is gluten-free, the grill may be cross-contaminated from other foods being cooked on the same surface.
- Seek out safe indulgences like fresh squeezed lemonade stands, freshly roasted peanuts, corn-on-the-cob or freshly-popped popcorn.
- Treat yourself to a cool treat like shaved ice or an ice cream – but select wisely; soft serve is usually gluten-free, several varieties of good-humor are as well (but stay clear of anything with cones, cookies, crumbs, or other mix-ins).
Break into small pieces for a delicious crouton substitute. These crisps also make a pretty and unusual hors d’oeuvre, ideal for your next neighborhood potluck.
Coarsely grated parmesan cheese (approx. ¼ cup per “crisp,” but this amount and size can be varied)
Herb of your choice – finely chopped (to taste)
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Mix parmesan cheese with herb and pepper
- Spread mixture into desires shape, thinly on cookie sheet. Cheese mixture should be thin enough that it looks lacey, but with pieces of cheese still connecting to each other so the crisps will hold together
- Bake for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown
- Remove from oven and cool on rack for about 10 minutes
- Peel crisps off of parchment paper
Crunchy Hemp Seeds
Miss the crunch of croutons on your salad? Of course gluten-free croutons are easy to make but here’s a delicious naturally gluten-free alternative that will not only jazz up the taste of your salads, but provide excellent nutrition too.
Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and are a good source of essential omega -3 and omega- 6 fatty acids, as well as of high quality protein. They also provide fiber and various minerals. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled straight from the package on a variety of foods, from yogurt to fruit to salad, much as you you’d use chopped nuts. But for an even nuttier taste that works well on salads and vegetables try the following:
- Toast desired amount of hemp seeds over medium heat in a heavy skillet, for about 10 minutes (until slightly darkened) stirring frequently. Add kosher salt (to taste) before the last couple minutes of toasting.
Note: Hemp seeds are available in most natural foods stores as well as in many mainstream markets.