One of our favorite things about summer is hosting BBQs. We LOVE having people over and treating them to a special meal of smoked meat and all the fixings! Over the past few years I have become increasingly aware of the issue of food allergies ~ especially since Daniel started eating gluten free a little over 2 years ago. Now, when we invite people over, I am always sure to ask if anyone has any food allergies. Having a guest with food allergies can be intimidating, but I thought I would throw together a few tips/ideas on hosting an Allergy Friendly BBQ!
1) Corn chips and salsa - Most people with a gluten intolerance can have corn chips, and most corn chips are gluten free (but again, check the label). Home made pico de gallo salsa or guacamole, will take a little longer, but you will know all the ingredients in the dish. Many brands of salsa are gluten free, but ...you know what I'm going to say...check the label to make sure.
2) Fresh fruit and veggies are all pretty safe when it comes to allergies. They are egg free, dairy free, soy free, and gluten free. I personally love to serve watermelon and corn on the cob at our summer BBQs. And I almost always throw together a veggie tray when we have dinner guests...but be sure to have any dip container on hand in case anyone needs to check the list of ingredients to make sure they can dip their veggies.
3) Have a protein option that does not need a bun: Many people are discovering they have a gluten intolerance, and gluten free hot dog / hamburger buns can be expensive and (in my opinion) not very tasty. Some chicken is easy to throw on next to the hot dogs and hamburgers, and does not require a bun to eat it on! If you really only want to serve burgers and hot dogs, let your guest know ahead of time. On several occasions Daniel has brought his own GF bun for his hamburger, and your guest may want to do the same.
4) Dessert can be tricky because most desserts I can think of either contain eggs, dairy, gluten, or all 3! Don't feel like you have to spend an arm and a leg on expensive gluten free cookies, or bake an egg free/gluten free cake. Try to think of simple things: I am a big fan of making rice crispy bars with Gluten Free Rice Krispies. Some ice cream is gluten free (again, check labels, flavors like cookies'n'cream are NOT gluten free). Simplest of all, to me fruit is the perfect summer dessert!
5) Cross-contamination: This is something that is pretty new to me, but good to think about if you are hosting someone with a severe food allergy. If you cut something with a knife or serve something with a spoon or spatula, and then use that same knife/spoon/spatula in another dish or food item, you have just cross-contaminated. Even something as simple as double dipping a knife used to spread mayonnaise onto a piece of bread could contaminate the whole jar of mayonnaise for someone with a severe allergy to wheat. Keeping things separate, to the best of your ability, with be a big help for the person with allergies in determining what he/she can or can't eat.
6) If you guest with the allergies offers to bring a dish to the BBQ, say yes! Try as you might, their food allergies may be extensive, and if they bring something to the party, then there will be at least one dish they can have without being concerned.
**Most of these tips are specific for gluten allergies/intolerance because that is what I deal with the most. I would love to hear suggestions about other food allergies in the comment section. How do you handle dinner guests with food allergies?