Pack a Gluten-Free Picnic
Head outdoors with these summer-fresh recipes
Summertime and picnics go together. Except for the occasional ant, what’s not to love about taking your food and fun outside? Don’t pass up a picnic due to special dietary needs and an uninspired menu. Sure, there are gluten-free hamburger buns and sandwich breads on the market—but why stop there? Think outside the bun!
Homemade Spring Rolls are a perfect hand-held food that tastes as fresh as the great outdoors. Vegan Mac n’ Cheese Cups are easy bite-size poppers for kids of all ages, including mom and dad. Italian Panzanella Salad spruces up gluten-free bread in a flavorful cold salad that makes traditional potato salad look downright boring. Even cut fruit need not be plain-Jane. Look to kiwi and star fruit to make your fruit bowl pretty and enticing; add margarita mix and tequila and you have a grown-up fruit cup.
No picnic would be complete without sweets but they don’t have to be messy or require extra paper plates or utensils. S’more Cookies take chocolate chip cookies to a new level of decadence and Pie Pops are a fun way for youngsters to enjoy apple pie.
So pack up your picnic basket. These recipes will make your next outdoor outing not just safe but spectacular.
Grown-Up Fruit Cups
Out-of-the-ordinary fruit livens up traditional fruit salad. Carve a watermelon into a homemade bowl. Then spice things up with margarita mix and tequila.
1 watermelon, hollowed out for a bowl
2 cups cantaloupe, cut into balls
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into balls
2 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup red grapes
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup blueberries
1-2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 star fruit or other exotic fruit, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
½–1 cup gluten-free margarita mix,* optional
¼-½ cup tequila, optional
1. Cut watermelon into a bowl or basket. If you carve out a handle, support it by inserting toothpicks, as needed.
2. Place all the fruit except lime in a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup margarita mix (if using). Taste and add more mix to suit your palate. Then stir in ¼ to ½ cup tequila (if using).
3. Squeeze lime wedges onto fruit to help keep it from browning. Stir well.
4. Carefully scoop fruit into hollow watermelon.
5. Serve salad directly from watermelon bowl or spoon into individual glasses and garnish each one with a lime wedge.
Each serving contains 79 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 15g sugars, 1g protein, 6Est GL.
*TIP We used Tres Agaves Margarita Mix with organic lime juice and agave syrup.
Fresh Spring Rolls with Grilled Chicken
MAKES 8 TO 10 ROLLS
These rolls taste as light and breezy as summer itself. Soft and easy to hold, they’re filled with crunchy cucumber and carrots and punctuated by fresh mint and basil. Vary ingredients to suit your taste.
14 ounces boneless chicken breast or extra-firm tofu (pressed)
¼ cup Sriracha hot chili sauce
¼ cup kefir or cultured coconut milk
1 (6-ounce) package rice vermicelli noodles
4 shiitake mushrooms
2 small cucumbers
1 package rice papers
1 cup shredded lettuce
-Fresh mint leaves
-Fresh Thai basil leaves
1. Cut chicken or pressed tofu into 6 strips, approximately ¼-inch thick. (To press tofu, wrap it in paper towels and press between heavy plates; replace paper towels and press again, as needed, pressing 30 minutes to drain.)
2. In a small bowl, combine Sriracha and kefir.
3. Place chicken or tofu strips in a single layer in the bottom of another bowl and pour in enough Sriracha mixture to cover strips. (Reserve some Sriracha mixture for brushing strips while cooking.) Roll strips in marinade to thoroughly coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. Once marinated, generously spray grill with oil and preheat to medium hot. Lay marinated strips directly onto hot grill. Brush tops with remaining marinade, if necessary, to keep strips moist. Grill until golden brown; flip to cook briefly on the other side, brushing with marinade, if necessary. Alternatively, pan-fry strips in a non-stick pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Turn to fry both sides until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Once cooled, cut each strip lengthwise into 3 or 4 thinner strips.
5. To prepare rolls, cook rice vermicelli according to package directions. Rinse and drain. Then cut into 3-inch lengths.
6. Boil shiitake mushrooms in a large pot of water for 5 minutes. Then dice. (If using dried mushrooms, soak them 15 minutes in cold water to rehydrate before boiling.)
7. Cut cucumbers and carrots into very thin strips, approximately 3 inches long.
8. Fill a flat-bottom pan with very warm water. Dip rice papers into water one at a time, soaking 5 seconds or until soft and pliable. (Use a pan with a large enough bottom so paper lies flat while soaking; try not to let the paper wrinkle.) Gently remove papers to a plate and spread them flat.
9. To construct rolls, imagine paper circles as a clock face. At 12 o’clock, vertically place a small amount of cut vermicelli noodles, mint and basil leaves, lettuce, mushrooms, cucumbers and carrots. Top with 2 or 3 strips chicken or tofu. Cover chicken or tofu with more ingredients. Pick up the paper at 6 o’clock and bring it up toward 12 o’clock, folding it over ingredients. Then take the paper at 9 o’clock and wrap it tightly around the ingredients. Roll up the wrap all the way to 3 o’clock. The rice paper will stick to itself in this tight roll shape. Serve chilled.
Each roll contains 236 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 16mg cholesterol, 416mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g sugars, 8g protein, 28Est GL.
Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cups
MAKES 48 MINI CUPS
Mac ‘n’ cheese is even more fun as bite-size poppers. This healthier version of the kid-favorite food will make grown-ups happy, too. Vegan, gluten-free and full of hidden vegetables and other nourishing ingredients (nutritional yeast adds terrific flavor and nutrients), your family will love this recipe.
1 (16 ounce) package gluten-free macaroni noodles
2 white potatoes (½ pound), peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup water, divided
¼ cup sunflower butter or nut butter (if tolerated)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup vegetable oil of choice
½ teaspoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast, more for sprinkling on top, optional
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
-Dash of black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Generously grease 4 nonstick mini-muffin tins (12 cups each), covering entire baking surface.
2. Prepare macaroni noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cool water and drain.
3. In a large non-stick skillet, place potatoes, carrot, onion, olive oil and ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If needed, add ¼ cup additional water as vegetables cook to keep them from drying out. Once vegetables are fork-tender, transfer them to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
4. Add sunflower butter, salt, garlic, vegetable oil, mustard and mustard powder, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (if using) and peppers. Pulse until ingredients are fully integrated and mixture is smooth. Taste and add more of any particular ingredient to adjust taste to your preference. Thin with a bit more hot water, if necessary.
5. Pour sauce over cooked macaroni noodles, stirring to coat evenly.
6. Spoon macaroni and "cheese" mixture into prepared muffin cups, packing them in a bit to compress. Sprinkle extra nutritional yeast on top (if desired).
7. Place in preheated oven and bake 10 minutes or until sizzling. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of each cup to loosen. Remove with a spoon or rubber spatula.
Each serving contains 61 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 51mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 5Est GL.
TIP This nutritious "cheese" sauce is great as nacho cheese for chips or dip. Thin the sauce with hot water until it’s the consistency you desire.
Italian Panzanella Salad
Panzanella is a traditional "bread salad" hailing from Tuscany, where cooks used every last morsel of bread by soaking it and stirring in fresh local vegetables. In this incarnation, gluten-free white bread combines with farmers’ market produce for delicious results.
3 cups stale (or previously frozen) gluten-free bread (about 8 slices)
4 large diced tomatoes or 2 (14-ounce) cans, preferably oven-roasted, drained
1/3 red onion, diced
1 artichoke or 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 cup canned chickpeas
2½ tablespoons lime juice (about ½ lime)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black truffle oil, optional
-Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Cut previously frozen or stale gluten-free bread into thick slices. Cut each slice in half and soak all slices in a large bowl of cold water 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, dice tomatoes and onion. Chop artichokes and basil. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Measure out liquid ingredients. Mix all together in a large bowl and set aside.
3. After bread has soaked, squeeze out the water and add bread to the bowl of dressed vegetables. Toss everything together until it is the consistency you prefer. The more tossing/stirring, the less defined bread chunks become.
4. Place salad in the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours or ideally overnight. Serve cold.
Each serving contains 234 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 199mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 7g sugars, 5g protein, 23Est GL.
MAKES 3 DOZEN
There’s nothing like s’mores for delicious summertime fun but an open fire is not always handy. These cookies have the flavor without the fuss. They are egg free, made with gluten-free Ener-G egg replacer instead of eggs.
6 tablespoons butter or dairy- free butter alternative
6 tablespoons shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated cane sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacement powder mixed with 4 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2½ cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend of choice
1¼ teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if already in your flour blend)
10 ounces chocolate chips or chunks, more for topping cookies
1½ cups mini marshmallows
1. Bring butter and shortening to room temperature. Beat together with sugars and salt for several minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla extract and egg replacement mixture and beat until combined.
3. In another bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, flour blend and xanthan gum (if using). Gradually stir dry ingredients into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop dough into a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate or freeze until very cold. (Overnight is ideal.)
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
6. Scoop rounded tablespoons of chilled cookie dough onto prepared sheets.
7. Place in preheated oven and bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1 or 2 chocolate pieces and a sprinkling of marshmallows on top of each cookie. Return to oven and bake another 1 to 3 minutes. Remove when cookies are lightly brown around edges and marshmallows are softened or melted to your liking.
Each serving contains 153 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 93mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 14g sugars, 1g protein, 16Est GL.
Apple Pie Pops
MAKES 6 POPS
Easy-to-eat is the theme of this picnic recipe. These simple pops are little grab-and-go apple pies.
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice
½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if already in your flour blend)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free butter alternative
2 tablespoons shortening
2-3 tablespoons cold water (or 1½ tablespoons vodka + 2-3 tablespoons cold water)
- Milk of choice, for brushing crust
Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
Demerara sugar or sugar, for sprinkling
2-3 crisp apples
⅛ cup granulated cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, more for soaking apples
1. To make dough, whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter and shortening using a pastry cutter or the flat paddle attachment on a stand mixer or food processor. Add water gradually to make the consistency you need to form a ball. (Err on the side of wet rather than crumbly but dough should not be sticky.) Form dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside on the counter for 30 minutes while you make the filling.
2. To make filling, peel, core and slice apples. You should have about 2 cups.While slicing, place cut apples in a bowl with cold water and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice to keep slices from browning. Drain apples and toss with remaining filling ingredients. Set aside so juices form while you roll out the crust.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
4. Dust work surface and rolling pin with cornstarch or potato starch. Roll out dough to ⅛ to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut shapes in dough and place them on prepared cookie sheets. Gather dough scraps and roll out more shapes. For each pie pop, you should have 2 matching cut-out shapes.
5. Place a dollop of fruit filling in the center of one of each pair. Allow a ½-inch border between filling and edge. Dampen border with a moist finger and lay matching shape on top, pressing down on the center gently with the palm of your hand and gently pressing edges to seal.
6. Brush with milk of choice. Sprinkle demerara or granulated sugar on tops. Cut a small slit or two in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape during baking.
7. Place in preheated oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove to cool before constructing pops.
8. To make pops, gently insert a popsicle stick into the seam where crust comes together. Insert stick 1 to 2 inches or until pop is stable.