A Gluten Free Welcome to Barbecue Season

With Memorial Day comes the “official” beginning of cookout and barbecue season, and a welcome respite from the months of “comfort food” cooking.  Whether hosting at home or attending a barbecue at a friend’s or relative’s home, eating can be a challenge for those avoiding gluten.  As someone who’s eaten her share of hamburgers sans bun, it can be difficult to enjoy ketchup, pickles, tomatoes, sauerkraut and other accompaniments without the proper palette.  Fortunately for us, a couple of gluten-free bread companies have come to the rescue with their own version of hamburger and hot dog rolls.  These rolls are made by companies such as Udi’s and Rudi’s and can be found at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, health food stores, and online, so pile on the toppings and enjoy!

When I was a Weight Watcher’s leader, I would always suggest to my members to bring a dish you would feel comfortable eating, and the same goes for those having food allergies or restrictions.  Since most hosts are more than appreciative of a helping hand when it comes to food prep, you shouldn’t get any arguments about bringing a dish or two.  I am a proponent of preparing foods that are “naturally” gluten-free and healthy, such as the recipes I’m sharing with you here.  While the Potato Salad with Fresh Green Beans and Tarragon Dressing is somewhat time intensive (what potato salad recipe isn’t?), the Black Bean Salsa and Barbecue Chicken Wings are easy to prepare, and will be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of whether they shun gluten or not.  Have a Happy Memorial Day, and remember, “be careful out there!”

Do you have any favorite recipes or tips to share?


Why take a chance with store-bought salsas when so many contain gluten as a thickening agent?

Making your own salsa is super easy and always better when made from fresh ingredients.  Enjoy as an appetizer with gluten-free tortilla chips.

Total Time: 10 minutes


2 cups fresh, halved grape tomatoes OR cherry tomatoes

1 cup fresh chopped bell pepper

Fresh, seeded, finely chopped jalapeno pepper – to taste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 finely minced clove garlic

1 14-ounce can drained, rinsed black beans

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime

1 teaspoon finely zested lime peel (optional)

Place halved tomatoes and cubed Bell peppers in a food processor or blender and pulse briefly, until chunky, not pureed. Add jalapeno pepper, cilantro leaves, minced garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin and pulse, just until mixed. Add half the black beans and pulse briefly. Pour into a medium bowl. Stir in remaining black beans.


Use homemade gluten-free barbecue sauce in this delicious recipe for fall-off-the-bone tender chicken wings. This is a fast and easy crockpot recipe, adapted for gluten-free cooks from a recipe by Linda Larsen, About.com Guide to Busy Cooks.

Total Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes


3 pounds chicken wings or wingettes

1 1/4 cup Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)

2 tablespoons gluten-free chili sauce

1/4 cup honey

3 minced cloves garlic

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Grill or broil for 12-15 minutes, turning the wings several times for even browning. Watch carefully to prevent burning.  In a medium bowl mix gluten-free barbecue sauce, gluten-free chili sauce, honey, garlic and pepper until well blended.

Place wings in a large crockpot and cover with BBQ sauce mixture.

Set crockpot temperature to LOW, cover with lid and cook for 4-5 hours.


Some commercially prepared barbecue sauces can contain gluten as a thickener, however you can find sauces specifically labeled as “gluten-free.”  Barbecue sauce is relatively easy to make however, so why not make your own?

Total time: 15 minutes


1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins made in U.S. is GF)

1/4 cup water

1 medium chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon celery powder (not salt)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Makes 1 1/2 pints


This recipe is a delicious and different twist on a summer party favorite, and is not made with mayonnaise. That means it is a safer salad choice for picnics and cookouts, as well as being healthier.

Total Time: 45 minutes


3 pounds fresh new potatoes (I used red potatoes)

1 pound gluten-free bacon (I used turkey bacon)

1 pound fresh green beans

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon gluten-free dry mustard

1 teaspoon dried, crushed tarragon leaves

1 minced clove garlic

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

1/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup light olive oil

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. When cool crumble.

Slice unpeeled potatoes 1/4-inch thick and boil just until tender, but not soft, about 15 minutes. Drain. While potatoes are boiling, cut green beans into 2-inch pieces and steam for about 7 minutes, or just until tender.  Place cooked potatoes, green beans, sliced green onions and parsley in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl combine light olive oil, gluten-free chicken broth, tarragon vinegar, minced garlic, dried tarragon, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Pour dressing over vegetables and use a large spatula to gently coat vegetables. Add crumbled bacon and gently combine.  Serve immediately at room temperature or chill.

Karen JaffeKaren Jaffe is a health and weight loss coach, having lost 25 pounds in 1985 by revamping her comfort-food lifestyle and adding in regular physical activity. After a 20-year stint at Weight Watchers, where she created her own online forum as a way to share healthy recipes with her members, Karen set out on her own as a Take Shape for Life Coach, guiding and supporting clients on the Medifast weight loss program. As a result of her diagnosis of gluten sensitivity in 2009, Karen continues to seek out healthy and satisfying ways to eliminate gluten from her diet. You can usually find her in the kitchen on Sunday mornings, planning and preparing healthy, but simple gluten-free meals for the week. Karen has a passion for proving that a healthy weight is possible for everyone regardless of their lifestyle or cooking ability. She lives in Long Branch with her husband Glenn. She can be reached at appetiteforliving@comcast.net.