Sadly, another summer is coming to an end. Savor the final days with one more fabulous gluten-free family barbecue. If you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it can be challenging to eat foods that are nutritious and gluten free, particularly at barbecues. The key is to avoid processed and refined foods and eat real whole foods. Be mindful of cross contamination when grilling. When going to a party, request to have your food cooked first on a clean grill or over a clean piece of foil. Whether you plan to be the host or the guest, read these tips and tricks to make your “farewell to summer” barbecue a healthier one.

Surprise them with Skewers

Tired of the same old, same old? Get creative with your meat choices and enjoy your favorite barbecued meat on a skewer! Skewers are trendy right now and a hand-held skewer is easy to customize, depending on each person’s health needs and preferences. And skewers are not just about protein. By adding an assortment of colourful vegetables to your skewer, you’ll enjoy a nutrient-dense snack or meal. Keep in mind, buns are not just for burgers. Stack a wholesome and delicious Queen Street Bakery artisan round bun and long bun with the meat and veggies from your savory skewer and top with your favourite fresh condiments.

Beware of Barbecue Sauce

Where there is barbecued meat, there is, more often than not, barbecue sauce! Barbecue sauce can be tricky as most are high in sugar or artificial sweeteners and other additives. Finding a healthy gluten-free option at your local grocery store is not always easy. Some barbecue sauces are also advertised as sugar free. While this may sound like a good thing, these sauces often contain sucralose as a sweetener supplement. It is important to try to avoid sucralose as it may in fact negatively affect glucose and insulin levels. Why not simply make your own sauce from scratch at home to serve or bring to the party? Online recipes for clean barbecue sauce are plentiful — give one a try to make sure you know exactly what ingredients are going into your meal.

Be Sure to Veg Out!

Don’t let the beautiful and charred barbecued texture be reserved only for your protein. Try cooking a variety of naturally gluten-free vegetables and even fruits directly on the grill for a smoky taste. Truth be told, anything goes! Choose fresh, in-season produce from your local farmer’s market. Consider vegetables you’ve never had on the barbecue before, including:

  • Corn—there is a reason why corn is included in many street fairs across North America. The taste of barbecued corn on the cob brushed with real butter and a touch of salt can’t be beat. Just make sure you grill properly and don’t overcook, so your corn doesn’t dry out.
  • Zucchini is another example of a great summer vegetable choice. To increase the sweetness, drip a touch of pure lemon juice on your sliced zucchini before grilling it.
  • Asparagus is divine on the barbecue. This veggie cooks much faster on the grill than with other cooking methods, so be sure to keep an eye on these while they’re on the grill. Just 5-8 minutes total grilling time should do.
  • Pineapple—although it’s a fruit, a reasonable serving of fibre-filled grilled pineapple makes a scrumptious treat after your meal once in a while. There is a fantastic and oh-so-easy recipe for grilled pineapple with real whipped cream in my cookbook, The Paleo Diabetes Solution on page 274.

These are just a few examples of a wonderful range of vegetables (and fruit) that cook well on the barbecue and benefit from the grill’s char. Personally, barbecued whole onion (cut in half) and Portobello mushroom caps are my absolute favourites on the barbecue. Don’t be afraid to enhance the smoky flavours of charred vegetables with a pinch or two of salt. Sodium is often made out to be an enemy of healthy eating, but in moderation this is not the case. Sodium is a crucial element of the body and should be enjoyed in moderation. Enjoy the remainder of your summer in good taste!

About the Author: Living with celiac disease, Lisa Cantkier is a writer and educator focused on nutrition and health.