The Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan, AND Delicious Summer Cookout: How to Host a Summer Cookout that Pleases Everyone on your List
Summer is a time of celebration. Here are a few tips to help you maneuver barbecues with ease and have a successful and versatile cookout.
You most likely know someone that follows a gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, or raw diet. Invite them anyway. We can all be friends.
You may also have friends and family who suffer with food allergies. The best thing you can do is to stay curious, ask a lot of questions, and don’t take anything personally. The goal for summer parties is to have fun, enjoy each other, and build relationships. Food is simply a side benefit.
BYOF: Bring Your Own Food
As host, your main role is as project manager and facilitator of fun. Decide what part of the meal you will be providing and let your guests know. If you are featuring burgers then include Portobello mushrooms as a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free option. Garlic, peppers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, and asparagus are all tasty when they are grilled, just be sure to keep them separate from the meat and you’ll keep your vegetarian and vegan friends happy. An assortment of raw vegetables is a nice addition for those who prefer their food uncooked. How easy is that?
- Ask everyone to bring their favorite dish according to their health goals or healthy lifestyle. You can even have a Clean Bowl Competition; the person with the emptiest bowl at the end of the party wins.
- If someone has severe allergies, suggest they bring their own meat and/or veggies. By doing so, they can be confident in their food being prepared to their own needs and standards.
- Be sure you have Aluminum Foil on hand to help avoid cross-contamination.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Beverage
Water, coconut water, and unsweetened lemonade are refreshing summer beverages. Put sugar or other sweeteners on the side. Invite guests to bring – and take home – the beverage of their choice.
Some people live for dessert while others avoid it like the plague. A sweet compromise is buffet style with a variety of fruit, ice creams, and sorbet or other non-dairy option. Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, or marshmallow cream are all yummy topping options.
A batch of gluten free brownies or cookies will be a big hit. Trust me, your flour-loving folks won’t be able to tell the difference. They are that good.
Fruits that complement dipping or drizzling include apples, grapes, melon, berries, bananas, kiwi, pears or your personal favorite. Peaches and pineapple are also delicious grilled. Just remember the foil to avoid cross-contamination.
BYAS: Bring Your Authentic Self
The best summer barbecues are where everyone wins and is encouraged to come as they are in a spirit of “Bring Your Authentic Self” (BYAS). We all have food preferences; some of us have sensitivities and allergies. A cookout is where we can learn to appreciate our differences in a fun, social setting. Stay curious. Just because someone has a different eating style, doesn’t mean they are suffering. And you may find that what they bring or eat is absolutely delicious, albeit different than what you are used to. Allow people to stay true to their food preferences or special diets. As host, your attitude will set the tone for everyone to follow.
A few final tips to remember for your summer cookout:
- Stock up on take-home containers to send leftovers home with your guests. With a little extra effort, you can find high quality, ethically sourced, Earth-friendly plastic-free products that are safe for your guests and the environment.
- Give guests permission to choose what they put on their plate, even if it doesn’t include something you prepared. It’s not about you. It’s about them and the goals they have set. And sometimes, it’s about not getting sick. Show kindness and support for their decision and their uniqueness.
- Allow your friends and family the opportunity to take care of themselves. Someone with an allergy or food restriction most likely knows how to eat according to his or her dietary needs. Unless they ask for your opinion or advice, assume that they are the expert on what they should eat. And if they choose not to eat something at your party, rest assured that they won’t go hungry.
- Remember one of the most important aspects of a good summer party: The music playlist.
- Sunscreen and bug spray are great to have on hand.
- Encourage your guests to be active with an assortment of gloves, balls, and Frisbees. Set up for badminton, volleyball, horseshoes or bocce ball.
With a little planning and creativity, you will host a summer cookout that pleases everyone on your list.