From picnics at the park to backyard BBQs, from family reunions to the ballpark, everyone who eats gluten-free picks up a few tips and tricks to surviving summer’s social scene—and all the outdoor eats that come with it.
In our June subscriber-exclusive email, we asked you to share one secret, tip, trick, or gluten-free hack you’ve picked up that could help other Little Northern Bakehouse email subscribers enjoy a safe—and deliciously gluten-free!—summer.
And WOW did you deliver!
Here are some of the most useful, tried-and-true tidbits and go-to gluten-free tricks you shared to make navigating summer’s picnic pitfalls easier for gluten-free eaters like you.
Bring Your Own Gluten-free ＿＿
Of all the gluten-free summer survival secrets subscribers shared, BYOGF (Bring Your Own Gluten-free ___) was the most universal theme. Here are some of our favourite variations:
“Bring your own favorite dish to the party! That way you know what you’re getting yourself into!”
– La’Tice Levert
“BYOD = bring your own dish. I make a dish I know I can eat and that will be filling so that at least I have one option I can trust.”
– Missy K.
“I have 2 [tips] that I live by! No matter who invites or plans an event, I make sure to bring my own treats / supplies / baking etc.. Never assume you can eat everything! And if it’s a pot luck situation I label my dish with potential dietary info (i.e.: GF, Vegan, Dairy-free etc.) so no one has to figure out who to ask and can simply enjoy. Another hack for when you’re on the road and forgot snacks? Grocery stores everywhere most likely have authentic Mexican style tortilla chips – 99% of the time these are GF Vegan!!”
“Always offer to bring something to the picnic as it ensures there will be at least one thing gluten-free! I always offer to bring sandwiches because a good GF’wich on Northern Bakehouse is satisfying and provides excellent source of carbs and fibre. I typically bring 2 – 3 GF and dairy-free options and the rest are not GF. Whatever type of sandwich, I use hummus on one slice and Dijon on the other … if it will be outside and I am concerned with heat/sun, [fill it with] roasted veggies (zucchini, eggplant and peppers)…..dill pickles, olives and raw carrots on the side! And extra hummus for dipping :)”
– Terri M.
“My best advice is to make it a potluck or offer to bring a dish/side dish of your own. Not only does it ensure you have something safe to eat no matter where you are, it has the added benefit of being something you can share with others! And one less thing for your host to worry about. I enjoy baking and cooking for large groups of people, so I always love preparing for a potluck LOL!”
After BYOGF, the plan-before-you-go approach was the next survival secret our gluten-free subscribers shared.
“Plan ahead! I think planning ahead by preparing what you are going to bring is key to success. You know what you are bringing, what is in your food and you won’t need to worry about things such as cross contamination. This way you can also enjoy food with others and not have to skip out on eating because you don’t know what is in the already prepared foods.”
– Julie L.
“Ask host what is on BBQ & bring the same GF food so I don’t look ‘special’; my food blends in with the crowd!”
– Cottage People
“Always call ahead! I am gluten-free and vegan and always either chat with the party host or call the restaurant ahead of time to see if they can accommodate. If not, I ask if I can bring my own dish (to a party/BBQ) that I know will be a hit or eat beforehand and bring some snacks so I don’t go hungry. Be proactive and a problem solver, rather than putting it on others and going hungry.”
– Living Free Ashley
Another almost universal theme? The snack-sized version of Bring Your Own Gluten-free ___! We love how your go-to snacking assortment ranges from homemade bites to packaged treats, from nuts to fresh fruits and veg—and how your snack packing prowess often includes plans to share with other GF friends in need!
“I always carry back up snacks just in case there is nothing available. But love making a GF pasta salad to share with friends.”
– Mom to 6
“I always have a gluten-free snack bag ready to go at the door for impromptu picnics or fun outings. I fill it with nuts, fruit, granola bars, cookies and other treats so I’m not tempted to indulge in unsafe convenience foods while I’m out with friends.”
– Christa D.
“I always pack homemade protein balls just in case there is nothing I can eat at a summer party. Often, I will share them with other GF friends who find themselves in the same situation.”
– Jen Sibley
“Keeping chilled watermelon, cherries, lemons, limes, fresh mint and berries on hand to snack on and to add to our water bottles, makes us feel spoiled and the colors are gorgeous and just sipping on it keeps hunger at bay when we’re out and about.”
– Darci P.
“Nuts are my go-to snack. [And] Veggies & Dip with Hummus.”
– Lois K.
Be the Host or Hostess with the Mostest
Plenty of subscribers said their favourite Gluten-free Summer Survival Secret was to bring the party to you! Being the Host or Hostess with the Mostest means having full control of the menu—and making everyone feel welcome at your table!
“Host the foodie gathering and make it all GF; then I know I eat safely & others can’t tell now that the selection of products is sooo much better (like Little Northern Bakehouse) than [it was] 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with C[eliac] D[isease].”
– Summer Party Time Host
“If we BBQ at home, 90% of the food is gluten-free except buns for other guests. Most sides are plant-based corn on the cob grilled with olive or avocado oil, salads with multiple dressing options, fruit, etc. pasta salad we make both gluten-free and “regular.” All gluten-free items are allergen-free as well and kept in the kitchen in a designated space or labeled. Clean and safe utensils designated for specific items. Desserts are gluten-free as well such as cookie dough pie, cookies, or brownies. In the past I have made signs reminding guests to wash their hands. I also make an announcement if we have new company.”
Some Little Northern Bakehouse subscribers have more than their own gluten-free needs to look after. Here are two tips to make sure your kids have a safe and delicious summer, too!
“…When traveling to another event I pack safe food options for my daughter who has multiple food allergies including gluten. Making sure to keep EpiPens/Benadryl close at all times. I usually call ahead to see what is being prepared. If it’s someone I trust, they know how to keep my child safe. Going to new events (places/homes) we always bring food/desserts. I also try to make similar food items, so my child isn’t feeling left out. When people try what we prepare they’re shocked it’s gluten-free [and] allergy-friendly. The cookies dough pie is a big hit. We haven’t had an issue in almost 12 years.”
“This is our second summer with our son being celiac and our new life with gluten-free so we are still trying to figure out tricks but for now my tricks are to always pack gluten-free snacks no matter where we go! And for parties also have a gluten-free cake or cupcake for him not to be left out! Also pack the night before if you can so you don’t forget anything, especially gluten-free snacks! It’s harder for them then it is for us to just grab whatever we want. Make sure they always feel included and try not to make it look much different or harder to do. It’s a life change for sure but you get better at it being the new normal. Pack tons of healthy fruits also! Can’t go wrong with fruits! 💚”
– Kayla Pullen
Summer isn’t just backyard barbecues, beaches, or ballparks close to home. Try this travel trick for summer adventures that take you to unexplored territory (and unknown menus).
“I have travelled the world with Northern Bakehouse bread. I lightly toast a few slices and they last several days. I then order sliced avocado at a restaurant for a lovely bite to eat.”
– Laurie K.
Some of you went all the way to sharing your secret recipes for go-to gluten-free sides and snacks!
“A favourite food to take to a picnic or eat in the backyard is Little Northern Bakehouse roll ups. Cut the crust off Cinnamon and Raisin bread and use a rolling pin to flatten each slice. Spread with peanut butter then put a whole banana on the peanut butter. Roll up the slice around the peanut butter. Slice and enjoy. Save the crusts and make French toast slivers. Delicious!”
– Cool GF Grandma
“Peeled and diced large russet potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder, diced onion, curry powder, roasted at 400℉ in the oven or on the BBQ! Great side always a hit with company!”
Why Didn’t We Think of That?
Little Northern Bakehouse subscribers also shared an assortment of smart and surprisingly simple hacks sure to leave some readers wondering why they didn’t think of that first!
“A great picnic food is a vegetarian chili kept warm in a soup thermos. Eat it as is, or in a gluten-free hot dog as a chili dog.”
– Donna M.
“Summer is great because SO many classic treats are naturally gluten-free, or can easily be made GF! Fresh fruit, corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw…the list goes on. As survival secrets go, my #1 lifesaver has been tin foil. Want some grilled corn on the cob or kabobs without the cross-contamination? Wrap it in foil and throw it on the grill. It’ll be safe AND delicious!”
– Heather M.
“Offer to supply the bread for the sandwiches so everyone sandwich is made with gluten-free bread.”
“Using BBQ/grill mats when using communal grills to avoid contamination.”
– Ben P.
“Don’t use paper straws from restaurants. The glue may contain gluten!! Bring your own metal ones just in case.”
– Kristelle Sawatzky
“My hack is to always toast my bread before packing it up to take to whatever social gathering it is. This way that is a sure way to ensure your burger or hot dog etc. will be ready to fill up. You won’t have to worry about it crumbling or falling apart before your first bite! I also try to make a dish (even a small one) and take it for everyone to enjoy. A go to is a simple salad that I make is a kale salad with pine nuts and mandarin oranges. It’s always a hit!”
– Robyn Huereca
“Any time I want to bring dessert to a gathering, I have many go-to recipes and always use gluten-free flour so I can indulge as well. The trick is not to tell anyone it’s GF as some people would be reluctant to eat it.”
We hope you loved reading these deliciously fun and savvy Gluten-free Summer Survival Secrets from Little Northern Bakehouse subscribers as much as we did! Keep your eyes on your inbox for more subscriber-exclusive gluten-free content to come!