Think a Gluten & Allergen-Free Picnic is “No Picnic”? Think Again!

by Kathleen Reale

Dairy Free Nut Free Fish Free Soy Free Gluten Free 

Eating al fresco gluten and allergy free is easy, and those that think otherwise need to think outside of the picnic basket, and beyond traditional picnic fare that is typically loaded with allergens and gluten. 

Anyone, even those avoiding gluten and other food allergies, can kick back, relax and enjoy an inviting spread of fun and festive foods with family and friends with little to no effort.

Following are a few basic picnic pointers that can help make a picnic basket full of gluten and allergy free foods become a hit:

Think mini-meals. Picnics should never consist of a 10-course meal that takes a lot of time and work to prepare while at your picnic site. Think snacky-type items such as sliced fruit, popcorn and fresh fruit; since picnics can consist of activities such as kite flying, swimming and sandcastle building, you want to keep energy levels up while waiting for the main meal to be served.

Space is crucial. When packing your picnic lunch think portability and simplicity; especially if you have to carry your picnic basket or cooler a long way to the picnic site.

Some great gluten and allergen free ways to save space? Wrap a salad in a corn tortilla or gluten free wrap or stuff an oversized bell pepper with rice or pasta salad rather than storing in a large plastic container. If you do need to use containers go for square or rectangular ones, since they take up less space in a cooler than round ones.

More space saving tips? Forego the large containers of condiments, salt and pepper. Go for those smaller packets found at sandwich shops; but a word of caution… use only brand name condiment packets that you can verify as being gluten or allergen free.

Say yes to sticky fingers! Try to keep the bulk of the foods you serve finger-foods that don’t require a fork and knife. Think of your picnic blanket as a large buffet table that is haphazardly spread with a variety of tastes and flavors.

Keep the food that you serve simple, effortless and interesting by serving the main meal spread buffet-style on the blanket or picnic table for those to help themselves.

Give up the structure of proper table etiquette, and forgo forks & knives!

Some great picnic food ideas for those on a restricted diet due to celiac disease or food allergies include:

Veggies and dip
Gluten free wraps with deli meats, cheeses and veggies
Salads - made with rice, rice noodles, pasta, quinoa or other gluten free grain
Chicken, beef and pork satay skewers
Fried chicken
Roasted vegetables

Even if you are running short on time, or decide to have an impromptu picnic, a visit to your local deli or farm stand will yield you some excellent picnic food options, including:

Sliced deli meats –such as prosciutto, ham, salami (make sure you check label for allergens!)
Fresh fruit
Dried fruit
Cheese, grapes, gluten-free crackers and crusty bread

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