Gluten-free Memorial Day (photo courtesy of Beverly & Pack)
Memorial Day is fast approaching. Once known as, "Decoration Day", Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who have died while serving their Country during military service. Not only is Memorial Day a day of remembrance, it is also a day to spend quality time with your family and loved ones. Most Memorial Day activities center around a picnic, BBQ, or sporting events, so get ready to have a gluten-free Memorial Day!

If you are gluten sensitive, you will want to make sure your are included in the festivities by preparing gluten-free foods you can eat and share with others. Many of your favorite picnic and BBQ foods are naturally gluten-free, but the condiments and preparation of the dish is what can render your meal inedible. Remember to use gluten-free sauces for your marinades, and avoid using condiments that have been dipped into by gluten laden utensils, as cross contaminates are readily found in jars of mayonnaise and mustard. Keep yourself safe this year and make sure to have your own condiments when going to a group event. Many gluten sensitive people use squeeze tops for their condiments to avoid the proverbial "gluten contaminated knife in the condiments" routine. Included are some Memorial Day tips and recipes, but with a gluten-free twist.
Hot Dogs are generally not gluten-free. The fillers they pump into hot dogs usually contain gluten or a sub-ingredient of gluten, such as caramel color, artificial colors or flavors, and even some spices. If you are a hot dog lover, don't despair, there are gluten-free hot dogs on the market. The link below is for all natural gluten-free buffalo hot dogs-check it out!
Don't forget the buns! Being gluten-free doesn't mean you can't enjoy a bun like everyone else-just make sure your buns are gluten-free. You may want to abstain from grilling your buns on the BBQ if there are gluten products on the grill. Try toasting your buns in a clean toaster oven, or putting your buns on a piece of aluminum foil to avoid contamination. There are even some gluten-free buns on the market that are good enough to eat without toasting. The link below is a good place to start looking for gluten-free buns.
Shish kabobs are an all-time favorite at any Memorial Day event. Shish kabobs are easy to make and gluten-free; just make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce and marinades for your kabobs. Here are some ideas for home made, low-fat, gluten-free Shish kabobs.

Gluten-Free KabobsGluten-Free Citrus Tarragon Chicken Kabobs

  • 1 lemon, zested, then juiced, remainder discarded
  • 1 orange zested, then Juiced, remainder discarded
  • 1 lime, zested, then juiced, remainder discarded
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless gluten-free chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (use free-range, organic chicken without fillers if possible).

Gluten-Free Veggie Kabobs

  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Italian squash
  • Zuchinni
  • Sweet potato chunks
  • Tofu
All of the above veggie kabob ideas are optional. Use foods that you like to grill. Make sure your veggies are chunked big enough to hold up well on kabob skewer.

Gluten-Free Balsamic Vinaigrette (for veggie marinade)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
To Make Kabobs:
  1. Thoroughly mix together all of the citrus-tarragon chicken ingredients (except the chicken) in a bowl. Toss the chicken in the mixture until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces.
  3. Puree balsamic basting vinaigrette ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds.
  4. Grill kabobs directly over heat source for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning 1/4 rotation every 2 to 3 minutes, or until it's cooked throughout.
Gluten-Free Fruit SaladGluten-Free Salads and Side Dishes:
Salads are always a welcome gluten-free side dish, capable of complimenting any meal. To make your Memorial Day BBQ complete, here are some ideas for gluten-free side dishes. These side-dishes are gluten-free, easy and sure to be crowd pleasers-even for the gluten eating folks.
Don't forget the gluten-free chips and snacks!
Being gluten-free doesn't  mean you can't enjoy a cold beer on Memorial day like everyone else. There are many beer companies that now make gluten-free options. There are quite a few really amazing gluten-free beers on the market, so you shouldn't have to settle for a gluten-free beer you don't like, though you may have to sample many gluten-free beers before you find one that suits your tastes. However, finding a market that carries your favorite gluten-free beer is another issue all together. You may want to discuss options with your favorite grocery store. Many stores will offer to carry products for you if they know you will buy them regularly. The following list of beers are some of the top sellers and can be found at many specialty stores, grocery stores, and liquor stores.

Gluten-Free Beers:
  • Greens Gluten-Free Beer
  • Redbridge Gluten-Free Beer
  • New Grist Gluten-Free Beer
Gluten-Free desserts are certainly not sparse. Although, finding gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, dairy/casein-free, corn-free desserts are a bit trickier. Pecan pie is an all American favorite, and no Memorial Day should be without pecan pie. The following pecan pie recipe is raw, and requires no cooking, and contains almost none of the usual food allergens-unless of course you are allergic to pecans.

Gluten-Free, Dairy/Casein-Free, Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Sugar-Free Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups raw almonds, soaked and drained
  • 35 pitted dates, soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raw pecans, soaked and drained
  • pinch salt
  • Olive oil, to grease your pan
To Make:
Note: If you are not familiar with the process of soaking nuts, please review the following information before attempting this recipe.
After soaking and drying the pecans complete the recipe as follows:
  1. Combine the almonds and 10 of the dates in a food processor, and process until they are coarsely ground and clumping together. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch square brownie pan or a pie plate with a little cold-pressed olive oil to keep the pie from sticking to the plate. Press the almond-and-date mixture evenly into the bottom of brownie pan and up the sides to form a crust. Set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining dates, the fresh lime juice, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a blender or small food processor, and process until the mixture has a smooth, uniform consistency. Spread the date filling evenly over the crust. Arrange the raw pecans on top of the date mixture and press lightly. Cut the pie into 2-inch squares and serve.
Gluten-Free  Quick Check:
  • Use a clean BBQ grill or use aluminum foil
  • Use gluten-free condiments
  • Make sure your meat is gluten-free
  • Avoid cross contamination
  • Prepare enough gluten-free food to share
Happy Memorial Day!

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).