Summer is a delicious time of year! The availability of fresh produce, the opportunities to gather with friends and eat outdoors, and the tempting frozen treats make summertime foods some of the best eating around, I always think. But if you are trying to go gluten-free, you may be viewing the approaching warm weather with a little apprehension. All those backyard barbecues and cookouts can feel like a minefield of gluten-filled burger buns, pasta salads, and ice cream cones. And what if many of your favorite summer treats are now off-limits? Don’t despair; there is so much to enjoy about summer’s bounty and you don’t need to miss out. With little advance planning, you can have your burger and eat the gluten-free bun too! Talk to your diabetes care team if you’re interested in going gluten-free and try some of my favorite tips:
Burgers and hot dogs are classic cookout foods. Chances are you’ll be faced with the dilemma of how to eat them at least a few times over the summer. But there are a number of options, from going completely bun-less to using store-bought gluten-free rolls. There are also some more creative options – like using thick slices of grilled eggplant to hold your burger, which helps improve the nutritional quotient considerably. Or consider the meat-on-a-stick approach, which works well for hot dogs, sausages, and chicken tenders, and is always a hit with the kids. Read the food label on packaged foods, such as hot dogs, as they may contain gluten as well.
Marinades and sauces are frequently used during the summer grilling season, and can really enhance the flavor of your meal. But they can often be hidden sources of gluten, not to mention added sugars. Soy sauce is a common culprit, as it is often cross-contaminated with gluten, but wheat-based products may also be used as thickeners in many commercial barbecue sauces. Making your own marinades and sauces at home is the best way to control the ingredients, but there are also plenty of clearly labeled gluten-free brands on the market. You can get more healthy grilling ideas here.
Ice cream and cones. We may all scream for the creamy cold stuff, but it’s important to realize that not all ice cream is gluten-free-friendly. You need to watch out for cookie dough, brownies, pretzels, and other flour-based add-ins. Surprisingly, chocolate can contain gluten, so even plain chocolate ice cream may not be entirely gluten-free! The good news is that many companies are making every effort to list potential food allergens on their packaging. If you can’t be sure, it might be best to stick to vanilla and other naturally gluten-free flavors such as strawberry.
Ice cream and other frozen treats also lend themselves well to being eaten from a stick and it’s easy, and often healthier, to make your own popsicles at home. If that seems like too much trouble, you can always soften store-bought ice cream slightly, fill popsicle molds, and refreeze for your own ice cream bars. And if you’re dying for the cone, there are several brands of gluten-free cones available, some of which are even low in carbohydrates and sugars.
Strawberry shortcake is a classic summer dessert and who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the ripe, red berries when they are in season? Thankfully, the biscuit-like base of traditional strawberry shortcake may be quite easily reproduced in gluten-free form! There are several brands of gluten-free biscuit mixes to choose from, and with a little added sweetener, I’ve found they can make a delicious shortcake. Better yet, make your own sweetened biscuits. There are many recipes available; I especially look for those that call for high-fiber ingredients like almond or coconut flour, so I can have my cake with a little less guilt.
With gluten-free diets growing in popularity, it seems like there is a gluten-free answer to almost everything these days. Armed with a little knowledge and planning, you can be enjoying all the deliciousness that summer has to offer.
Carolyn Ketchum is a writer, runner, and the mastermind behind All Day I Dream About Food, a mostly low-carb, gluten-free food blog. She has a master’s degree in physical anthropology and an extensive background in higher education administration. Ketchum is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience