Gluten-free, Dairy-free Menu for Outdoor Dining


Out to Lunch

Dust off the picnic basket! A special diet doesn’t mean the end of your favorite picnic foods. These tasty recipes for outdoor dining classics add a delicious twist to traditional fare.

Go ahead and pack up that picnic basket! Any meal becomes more memorable when it’s enjoyed outside. You don’t have to travel far. Dining al fresco – at the beach, a neighborhood park or in your own backyard – reconnects you with nature and makes a meal more like an event. For an added touch, bring a handful of fresh flowers, light a couple of candles and play your favorite tunes.

Here’s a simple yet delicious picnic menu – a recipe for sure success, wherever you happen to spread your blanket.

Old-Fashioned Fried Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

Fried chicken was the only dish my mother could make when she was a new bride. This gluten-free, dairy-free version of her recipe remains a family favorite.

Whole chicken cut into pieces or 8 to 10 pieces chicken (bone-in)

11/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (see sidebar)

1 teaspoon dried chervil or dried tarragon (crush leaves between fingers)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 quart vegetable oil, expeller-pressed coconut oil, or palm oil

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry.

Mix flour blend and spices together in a shallow bowl or gallon-size plastic bag.

Pour oil into skillet until it is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Heat oil over high heat (400 degrees if using an electric skillet) in a large heavy-bottomed skillet with a tight fitting lid.

* While oil is heating, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, coating well. Tap off excess flour.

Using tongs, carefully place chicken pieces, skin side down, in hot oil. Cover pan. After ten minutes, turn pieces over. They should be nicely browned. If not, cook until browned. Turn pieces and cover pan for 8 to 10 additional minutes or until second side is browned.

Remove chicken from oil and place on a rack to drain. Set rack inside a larger pan and place in a warm oven until ready to serve. Or cool in refrigerator and serve chilled.

*TIP For fried chicken that’s crisp on the outside and moist (not greasy) on the inside, use tongs to turn the chicken and maintain proper oil temperature. To test if oil is hot enough, dip a small piece of chicken into it. Chicken should sizzle immediately.

TIP Make sure that fried chicken has cooled completely before packing or condensation may make the crust soggy. Try packing chicken in a large plastic container. Put a clean cotton dishcloth under the lid to absorb any condensation.

Sweet Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

This is a crowd-pleasing alternative to traditional potato salad. Sweet potatoes are high in beneficial antioxidants and low on the glycemic index.

4 large sweet potatoes, (peel if desired),

cut into 1⁄2-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

8 ounces (about 8 slices) turkey bacon

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1⁄4 cup minced cilantro

Additional salt and pepper, to taste


1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar*

1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place sweet potatoes on a lightly oiled, large rimmed baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Potatoes should be in a single layer.

Roast potatoes for approximately 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooking, sauté turkey bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Chop and reserve. SautÈ onion and bell pepper. Add additional oil if necessary. Cook only until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

To prepare dressing, whisk balsamic vinegar, honey or agave and spices in a large bowl. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to create an emulsion.

Toss potatoes, bacon, onion, bell pepper and cilantro with dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to pack in cooler. Serve chilled or room temperature.

*TIP Agave nectar is a low-glycemic alternative to honey. It can be found in grocery stores next to the honey or in the natural food section. You can also purchase it on line at

Creamy Lemon Dill Coleslaw

Serves 6

Eat the colors of the rainbow with this nutrient-rich coleslaw. Be creative and vary ingredients according to your particular taste.

1 medium green cabbage, finely shredded (about 6 cups)

1⁄2 medium red cabbage, finely shredded (about 3 cups)

4 large carrots, finely shredded

Juice and zest of one lemon or lime

1⁄3 cup mayonnaise*

1⁄2 cup nondairy sour cream or plain yogurt**

1 teaspoon dill weed, dried or 1 tablespoon fresh

1⁄2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 tablespoons chives, chopped, optional

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix cabbages and carrots in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and zest and toss.

To make dressing, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream substitute, dill, celery seed, chives, salt and pepper in a separate bowl.

Fold dressing into cabbage mixture, tossing to coat. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Pack in an insulated serving bowl or in a covered bowl placed inside a large bowl of ice. Keep cool in a well-insulated cooler until ready to serve. If coleslaw won’t be kept cool, use homemade or bottled vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing.

TIP Mix it up! Use grated jicama, grated celery root or finely minced bell pepper in place of part of the cabbage.

*TIP For a dairy-free, egg-free alternative to mayonnaise, try Vegenaise. It’s available at

**TIP If using nondairy yogurt, try Silk or Stonyfield Farm brands. You can also substitute mayonnaise for the sour cream or yogurt.

Key Lime Squares

Makes 24 squares

This sweet-tart dessert is a great finish to a summertime picnic. It’s also delicious made with lemon juice.



1⁄3 cup key lime juice, bottled or fresh squeezed

2 large egg yolks

2⁄3 cup granulated sugar

1⁄4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder*

Zest of one lime

Crumb Mixture

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend

1⁄2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

1 teaspoon gluten-free double-acting baking powder**

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup plus 3 tablespoons gluten/casein-free shortening

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup quinoa flakes or certified gluten-free oatmeal***

Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×12-inch pan that’s lined with aluminum foil.

To make filling, add enough water to lime juice to equal 11⁄2 cups of liquid. Whisk juice together with egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and zest in a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened and there are no lumps. Set aside to cool slightly.

In separate bowl, sift together flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Set aside.

Cream shortening. Add brown sugar and mix well.

Add flour mixture slowly to sugar mixture, scraping bowl often. Do not over-mix; mixture will be crumbly. Add quinoa flakes or oatmeal.

Firmly pat about half of mixture into bottom of prepared pan with your fingertips, making a smooth layer. Spoon key lime filling over crumb layer. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top of filling. Some filling will show through.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly colored. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Pack squares in a tightly covered plastic container.

TIP – One Potato, Two Potato: Potato starch and potato flour are two different products. Potato starch is similar to cornstarch in consistency and can be used in place of cornstarch for thickening and in baking. Potato flour is made from ground dehydrated potatoes and is heavier in consistency than potato starch.

*TIP Bob’s Red Mill ( makes arrowroot powder. It’s also available in bulk in the nutrition section of Whole Foods stores.

**TIP Gluten-free, non-aluminum baking powder can be purchased at

***TIP Purchase quinoa flakes at and certified gluten-free oats are available at

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

Makes 11⁄2 Cups

1⁄2 cup sorghum flour

1⁄2 cup tapioca starch

1⁄4 cup potato starch

(not potato flour)

1⁄4 cup rice flour

Mix ingredients together. Store in tight-fitting container until used. For premixed flour blends, visit