• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Holidays Are Designed for Eating: Labor Day Weekend

Being gluten-free on a holiday can be tough, even if it's just Labor Day.

Friends and family members try to accommodate your dietary restrictions, but there will always be that one delicious looking dish that's full of gluten. This weekend, I attempted to navigate around glutenous foods by going to A Taste of Colorado and a potluck. I know what you're thinking: How did I avoid gluten at A Taste of Colorado AND a potluck?! It was easier than you'd think.

A friend and I left for TOC around 10:30 a.m. Traffic and parking wasn't as atrocious as I anticipated. We parked in the first available lot that wasn't charing over $5 and made our way to the main event. In order to eat at TOC, you have to buy tickets. 15 tickets cost $10. We started out with 30 tickets each, and each bought another 15 so we could purchase a full entree.

My first taste was from Barbed Wire Reef. We gave four tickets for a taste of chipotle wild boar carnitas. The boar was mouth-melting. Although I ate many things that day, this one remained my favorite. I contemplated getting an entree of just the meat.

Stop number two was Rocks Grill. On their booth was a sign indicating they had won an award at TOC. How could I not try their elk sausage jambalaya? I approached the stand and asked the man if the jambalaya was gluten-free. He insured me that it was and that they were trying to cover their bases with the "gluten-free fad." Although slightly annoyed with his extended answer, I wasn't going to deny myself a taste. It was spicy and full of okra and elk. If the day hadn't been so hot, I would have eaten more.

Number three, Albert Bartlett potatoes, gave away their potatoes for no tickets at all! I enjoyed a little taste of potato wedges.

We can't forget cupcakes! Stop number four was Gigi's Cupcakes. I jumped four joy when I saw they had gluten-free cupcakes, even though they weren't dairy-free. I decided the dairy in the icing wasn't going to kill me. I got a double chocolate taste. Their tastes were a full, mini cupcake. Although all the tastes were enough to experience flavors, Gigi's taste seemed like the perfect size. The cake was delicious. It was moist and didn't taste like garbanzo bean flour (my least favorite gf flour). The frosting was fudgy and full of chocolate. I contemplated getting a second but felt that the dairy in the fudge frosting was all the dairy my body would tolerate for the day. We moved on.

Stop number five was the Italian ice stand. I had a taste of the creamsicle and later tried the green apple and had a small blueberry. The ice was refreshing after wandering and eating all morning.

Despite tasting for a solid hour, my friend and I were hungry for a full-sized entree. We both settled with a choice from Barbed Wire Reef. She got a rattlesnake sausage and I ordered a camel burger on a gf bun. This was the slightly disappointing moment for the day. The camel burger was 15 tickets. To have it on a gf bun, the ticket price increased by 6. If I'd been thinking, I would have eaten it without a bun, but I was too excited by the prospect of eating camel to remember I could go completely breadless. The burger was pretty lean and tasted, well, like a burger. I should have eaten a plate full of the chipotle boar instead.

We wandered around a bit longer and sat in the shade, giving our digestive systems time to do their thing.

After dropping my friend off at home, I made a pit stop at Peet's for some coffee. All of that eating makes a girl tired! Caffeinated and ready for the rest of the day, I wanted to bake. Crazy, right? I pulled out one of my favorite (mostly) gluten-free cookbooks: BabyCakes. While trying to decide what to bake, I received a text from another friend inviting me to a potluck. Perfect! I could whip something up and bring it with me. I decided on the brownie bites.

This recipe is flawless. The first time I made them, I ate equal amounts of batter and bites. I decided to make a double batch. I've finally gotten to the point in my gluten-free baking where I don't have to go to the grocery store every time I want to bake something. This is a small, but fulfilling, victory. The ability to bake on a whim is something I've always enjoyed.

I mixed the batter and began the baking. I had two or three more rounds of baking to go when I realized I had to get ready to head out. I put the rest of the batter in the fridge and packed up the brownie bites.

Completely gluten-free, vegan, and nut free, they were a hit (or at least my friends said they were rather enjoyable). Upon arriving at the potluck, I helped make stuffed peppers and jalapeño poppers. The stuffed peppers were full of delicious veggies and were gf. I opted out of the poppers. We breaded them in regular flour and stuffed them with a spicy cheese. I'm told they were ridiculously hot. My hands can attest to that (I wasn't wearing gloves and for the rest of the night, it felt like the tops of my hands were on fire).

I baked the rest of the bites after they'd be in the fridge for 24 hours. This is something I've never done before. I took the batter out and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes. It was still cold. I was hesitant to begin the baking process, but I wanted more bites. I spooned the cold batter into the mini cupcake wells and hoped for the best. What I got was something more fudgy and delectable than the first round.

The bites bake for a total of 8 minutes (5 minutes, rotate, 3 minutes), but with cold batter, they needed to bake for about 11 (5 minutes, rotate, 3 minutes, check, 3 more minutes). I was worried they would be dry, dense, and not as satisfying. The bites were fluffier and did not fall at all. I've noticed vegan baked goods fall sometimes. Perhaps chilling the batter is the solution.

Overall, navigating A Taste of Colorado and an impromptu potluck as a gluten-free eater was not as difficult as you might think. Get out there and enjoy tasting events at your local establishments!

#babycakes #browniebites #friends #glutenfree #holidays #potluck #TasteofColorado #vegan


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