By Rachel Begun, MS, RD
Beautiful vistas, a vast array of hiking trails, meals around the campfire—with all the landscapes our country has to offer, camping is a summertime favorite in the United States.
But what if you have celiac disease? Can you partake in the communal festivities? Of course, you can. Just keep the following tips in mind:
Volunteer to be in charge of food. If possible, plan an entirely gluten-free menu. If that won’t fly, purchase as many gluten-free staples as the group will find acceptable (see below).
Bring two sets each of coolers and dry goods containers, one for gluten-containing foods and one for gluten-free. The latter should be clearly labeled in large letters so no mistakes are made. Another option is to bring your own.
Purchase personal travel sizes of condiments. Not only will they be safe for you, but it is a more hygienic option for all. They may not be available at the supermarket, but you can call the manufacturer to purchase from their foodservice offerings.
Bring your own set of eating utensils. It can be difficult to clean them thoroughly in the great outdoors.
Stock up on aluminum foil. If using a community grill at the camping grounds, have aluminum foil or a tin dish on hand so your food doesn’t have to touch the grill directly.
Bring your own oral care products. This includes toothpaste and mouthwash.
Tell the group about your gluten-free needs prior to the trip. This way they know the precautions you have to take and will be mindful when handling and cooking food around you.
Campfire meals are just as much camping tradition as fishing, hiking and rock hopping. To keep the fun and tradition alive:
- Purchase gluten-free versions of the following camping staples, as there are options acceptable to even those who don’t have to eat gluten-free: coffee and hot cocoa mixes; pancake/biscuit mix; certified gluten-free instant oatmeal packets; canned chili and soups; bread crumbs for a crunchy coating on fresh-caught fish; and chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers for s’mores.
- Bake a large batch of gluten-free granola or energy bars to stay fueled on long hikes away from camp.
- Make endless amounts of gluten-free GORP, the camper’s word for trail mix. You can tailor the ingredients to your liking, and it’s much less expensive than buying pre-made mixes.
Now that the menu is set, where will you be camping this summer? My husband and I are off to Colorado!
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness offers Vitacost.com website visitors weekly recipes and blogs about living the gluten-free lifestyle. For more information about celiac disease and gluten-free living, visit www.celiaccentral.org.