What to Bring to the Bonfire?: Living Gluten-free

Photo by Autumn Mott on Unsplash

As you all probably know, Fall is my favorite season:  warm sunny days, leaves changing bright colors, cool nights, which I can wear my vegan leather bomber jacket, leggings, and boots (my outfit if I were a cartoon character à la Jane from the show, Daria). Fall also is the beginning of what feels like a mystical time of the year that unleashes the creativity and romance within. Additionally, Fall is for pumpkin patches, corn mazes, pumpkin spiced everything (I don’t put that shit on everything), and the best part—bonfires! My birthday is the beginning of October, which I am planning an “Altoberfest” (the name needs work), but you get my drift:  German-style food on my charcoal grill, fire pit, toasted marshmallows, the works. Another favorite of Fall fans is football season, which means…tailgating! Yes, tailgating, the easy way to get drunk and eat within the confines of a small space in a parking lot. However you like the party, I am not here to judge:  I am here to help. So, what do you bring to the party?
You could bring all sorts of things, but if you are like me, you might be so sensitive that if gluten was caught looking at something I ate, I would be sick for quite a bit. I have made the joke countless times that I require “exotic pet food,” or otherwise I will “die,” but I digress. I know I have mentioned I have some other weird food issues going on, so if you have to live in a bubble like me when it comes to food, here are some Certified Gluten-Free (CGF) suggestions. If you don’t know what CGF is, it basically means that companies legally adhere to strict guidelines that their products have 10 parts per million or less gluten (which is extremely small, but still can make someone sick) in them (due to cross-contamination, what have you). It is the best you are going to get besides making your own condiments, growing, or buying whole foods, yourself.

In my opinion, these are best CGF products I have had (you can click on the names for links):

Hot dogs and hamburgers:

  • Thumann’s Hot Dogs (if you can find them anywhere, they are amazing!)
  • Sabrett’s Hot Dogs
  • Organic (preferably grass-fed) beef (80-85% is the best meat to fat ratio I have found so far). Grass-fed beef typically is organic, too. You can find organic grass-fed beef in the dreaded Wal-Mart (or a local store or farm)
  • For vegans, I enjoy Dr. Praeger’s or Hillary’s vegan burgers. They are both CGF, but some of Dr. Praeger’s are not gluten-free, so be careful.

Hot dog and Hamburger Buns:

  • Canyon Bakehouse (a little pricey, but still good)
  • Udi’s (okay in a pinch, but the hot dog buns are huge and can be a little dry…I suggest their hamburger buns instead)
  • O’Dough’s sandwich thins (I believe they are vegan, too and their Everything bagels are amazing by the way…also difficult to find)


  • Inglehoffer mustards (the Applewood Smoked Bacon is my favorite flavor, but not all flavors are gluten-free)
  • Organicville mustard and ketchup (they also have great dressings)
  • Sir Kensington’s mayonnaise (I prefer the Fabanaise, which is vegan and you can’t tell the difference)
  • Stubb’s barbecue sauces and marinades (not sure if all are CGF so check the labels to make sure)

Gluten-free beers and ciders:

By the way, if you’re not super sensitive as I am, Wegman’s is a great store that makes their own non-certified gluten-free products.

I can’t forget about the smores:


al-man's fire
Al Man’s “All Summer Long” fire

Some good tips:

  • Bring with you little foil pans (like the ones you get in the dollar store for baked goods) to cook your own food with to avoid cross-contamination or confusion of whose food is whose
  • Pack your ingredients in a cool bag (I buy random totes at Dollar-Tree, like Star Wars themed or whatever)
    • I also like to put my condiments in tiny Tupperware containers
  • Bring your own beer or cider (a key-chain bottle opener is always a good idea)


Now onto the good stuff.  I make a killer potato salad, which you can use eggs or not. I think if you make a good enough potato salad, people will enjoy eating it all year-round.

This is my gluten-free (easily vegan) potato salad based from a Hellman’s potato salad recipe:

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes (5-6 medium sized potatoes, which I boil for about 20-25 minutes and let cool down) cut into 3/4th inch chunks
  • 1 cup of Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise (or any mayonnaise you choose)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is one of the best)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper (be careful with spices, because they tend to have gluten cross-contamination… I use Dion spices, which are cheap and organic)
  • 1 stalk thinly sliced celery
  • ½ cup of chopped red onion
  • 4 hard-boiled organic eggs (boil eggs for 5-6 minutes then put them in an ice bath for about 10 minutes…or leave the eggs out if you want a vegan option)

Throw ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spoon (don’t over-do it as not to mash your potatoes).

And there you have it!  Check in with me next time for my favorite Fall dessert recipe. Live life, have fun, and don’t overthink anything! Enjoy!


Yours truly,


A. Dawn


Author: Ali Pica

I am an avid writer and eclectic artist. I have spent years harnessing my skills of observation in my writing and embellish the ordinary in my work. I created my blog to share my unusual and interesting experiences with the world, to inspire people, or simply to make them laugh.

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