One of my favorite ways to spend a summer (or fall or spring, for that matter) night is to invite some friends and family over, open a bottle of wine or two, fire up the grill, put on some good tunes and have a barbecue. Now, considering that I’m gluten intolerant, and I have family members who are dairy-free, plus friends who are vegetarian, sometimes the planning of the food of said barbecue gets … well … kinda complicated.
But it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve put together our best tips and tricks to help you to host a healthy barbecue, no matter what dietary preferences your guests have.
1. Write out your guest list.
This doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as it might sound. Simply jot down everyone who’s coming to your grill-fest, and then highlight and make notes on anyone with food restrictions or specific dietary preferences.
2. Plan your meal.
Start by thinking of what sounds really good and yummy to you. (We mean, you are the host, so enjoy yo’self!) To keep things relatively simple and stress-free: pick one main dish, a couple of veggie-based and dairy-free sides (that’ll keep your Paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free peeps happy), a couple drinks (beer, wine and sparkling water are good places to start), and a dessert or two. You can plan to buy these, make them or request your guests bring them. Your party, your choice.
3. Go back over your guest list and make sure everyone can eat most things.
All of your guests don’t have to eat all the things, but is there a side they can eat? A main dish they can at least tweak to eat (like, having a veggie burger instead of a bison burger)? How about dessert (when in doubt, grilled fruit or sorbet is pretty darn great)? Change your meal plan accordingly.
4. Condiment it up.
Everyone loves condiments — we mean, there’s nothing better than ketchup and mustard on a hot dog or veggie dog. But what are in those condiments, really? Look at the labels on most of your mainstream condiments and it’s easy to find hidden stuff in there like sugar, gluten, soy, dairy and other fillers. Recently we’ve been trying out uber clean versions of your basic condiments from Primal Kitchen (they also have AMAZING salad dressings that double as awesome marinades), Fody Foods (low FODMAP), and Chosen Foods (plant-based mayos for the win!), and have been really impressed with the flavor and the ingredient lists.
5. Have fun. (Duh.)
Don’t over think it: it’s a barbecue! Be sure to find the fun by seasoning foods with flavorful herbs and spices that everyone loves. They compliment grilled veggies and meats so well.
When you grill for a crowd, what do you like to throw on the barbie? —Jenn