Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Days, the Gluten-Free Way

The calendar has turned over to May, and that means summer is not far behind! With the heat of June, July and August comes summer break for our kiddos, and what a fun time that can be. But, all those warm-weather activities can sometimes be a challenge for gluten-free kids (and parents!).

At the pool, the park, camp or wherever, two things are a near constant for children in the summertime: snacks and sunlight! Swimming can make you hungry, the park was made for picnics and the hot sun is not usually something you can escape if you’re enjoying outdoor activities in the summer.

Luckily, there are so many easy-to-make (and ready-made, too) gluten-free snacks out there, that your child’s summer snacking and sun exposure can be seamless. Here are some gluten-free edibles that are perfect for the hot, on-the-go days of summer:
  •   Fruit leather – A healthy version of the fruit rollups that kids love so much, and go so well with fast-paced summer fun. Learn more here 
  •  Fruit and cheese kabobs – A fun twist on two popular snack foods, with cool visual presentation.
  •  Trail mix – So easy to transport and eat, and the taste possibilities and different combinations are nearly endless.
  • Salsa – What’s more refreshing and filling in the short term, than a homemade salsa paired with gluten-free tortilla chips?!
  •  Homemade gelatin – This stuff is nearly irresistible to kids! Click here for more on this cool, fruity, jiggly treat: 

And of course, these are just the outside-the-box snacks; simple standbys like a fresh apple or crisp carrots can be perfect summer day go-tos!

Like makeup, your favorite coconut-scented sunscreen can be a gluten smuggler, and that can be dangerous. The good news is, gluten-free folks have been blessed with lots of options in recent years. Two of the brands that are confirmed to be gluten free across the board are Coppertone and Up & Up, which you’ll find at Target stores nationwide. My personal favorite is made by Bare Belly Organics, and BONUS - they make bug spray too! 

With a little bit of effort and research, a gluten-free summer can be a hassle-free summer, too! Below are some links with more information about gluten-free snack recipes and sunscreens, to help ensure your family’s summer break is memorable for all the right reasons.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Catering a Gluten-Free Graduation

May will be coming to an end soon, and aside from my constant sniffling and sneezing because of all these beautiful new flowers, you know what that means: Graduation season is upon us.

With graduation season comes graduation parties! These fun-filled, memory-making milestones are stressful enough to plan that some people forego finger foods, cake or cooking altogether in favor of catering, and while that’s a fine option, it can prove dicey for the gluten-free crowd.

While a party thrower can review the RSVP list and make sure his or her menu and kitchen supplies are up to the task of staying gluten free, outsourcing your recent grad’s party edibles to a caterer puts gluten-free guests at their mercy. Will the gluten-free options on their menu be sufficient? Do they double-use utensils? For gluten-free partygoers, the possibilities are not fun to ponder!

To ensure the next graduation gala you oversee is remembered only for its fun and efficiency, here are some gluten-free tips to check in with your caterer about!

Q: Does their gluten-free menu extend beyond just what they happen to have laying around?
    Any kitchen could probably scrounge up a few things that are gluten free – potato products, rice dishes, vegetable trays, etc. – but you want your guests to really enjoy their meals. When choosing a caterer, make sure their gluten-free offerings are up to par, and not just an after-thought.

Q: How experienced are they with gluten-free catering?
    Certainly, a business’ new venture could be of higher caliber than a similar offering that a competitor has been doing for some time. However, there are so many misconceptions about gluten-free diets that it may be wise to choose experience and tried-and-true methods over a start-up. Check those online review sites for guidance.

Q:Do they use dedicated cookers and utensils for gluten-free dishes?
    Cross contamination is one of the biggest ways gluten-free diners ingest gluten. Separate or properly prepared ovens, unique utensils, dedicated fryers and the like are must-haves when preparing gluten-free dishes alongside regular ones. Gluten can also hide in sauces and garnishes, so make very sure your caterer knows their stuff! A request to visit their kitchen before putting that deposit down might not be a bad idea!

Q: Do they provide gluten-free beverages?
    If you want your catering to be comprehensive, be careful. Caterers might get the meat of the menu down when it comes to gluten-free options, but gluten-free beverages are a necessity for guests – especially those of legal drinking age. Gluten-free goers can still partake in the fun of the party with new gluten-free alcohols and beers. So make sure you don’t leave the gluten-free friend out of the toast – understand beforehand that the caterer is prepared with a gluten-free drink options as well!