It’s 6 a.m., and the sun is rising on a cool August morning. As 150 campers are just starting to wake up, our kitchen staff is already working hard, flipping 500 pancakes, frying 400 slices of bacon and preparing a tremendous amount of food needed for the day ahead.
Imagine an 800-square-foot space overlooking a lake in the beautiful woods of Rhode Island.
For one week each year, this kitchen becomes a safe place for 150 gluten-free campers and volunteers from around the world.
It’s Camp Celiac.
A full year of planning goes into menu creation and requires rigorous hunting for food donations and careful logistical planning. It is a week of camping fun, complete with an all-you-can-eat pizza party, pasta night, dessert buffet, tons of cookies and even a doughnut breakfast that most people living gluten-free might think to be impossible.
Camp Celiac’s kitchen staff consists of an amazing group of formally trained chefs, including some former campers. They all suffer from celiac disease and are experts in creating an extremely safe gluten-free space.
Camp Celiac is a non-profit that is fully dependent on volunteers as staff, counselors, nurses and directors.
Food constitutes most of Camp Celiac’s focus. Unfortunately, gluten-free products are not cheap, and Camp Celiac oversees a team of people to partner with over 30 gluten-free certified companies willing to donate bread, pasta, cookies, baking mixes, sauce, cheese and so much more. The work pays off—campers often have an opportunity to sample food that is new on the market.
Sample some of Camp Celiac’s favorite dishes at home with three fun recipes below.
Making eggs for a big group is never easy, but this recipe keeps it simple to feed the crowd.
Nut free, soy free, gluten free
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 cup cheese
½ cup cooked and chopped sausage
½ cup diced ham
Preheat oven to 350° F. Start by beating the eggs in a large bowl with milk, salt and pepper until frothy. Add half the cheese and all of the meat to the eggs and fold together. Pour mixture into a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Uncover dish, add remaining cheese to the top and cook an additional 15 minutes or until fully cooked. Use a toothpick to check if the center is fully cooked and firm.
Taco in a Bag
Camp meals are supposed to be fun! This is a “grab bag” meal that is a twist on the traditional taco night.
Nut free, egg free, gluten free
1 small onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
6 snack bags of Fritos or preferred corn chip
⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 15-ounce jar salsa
½ cup sour cream
Start by browning onions and ground beef in olive oil over medium heat. Once meat is cooked, drain fat, then add water and taco seasoning. Continue to cook over medium heat for a few minutes, then remove meat from heat. Open each bag of chips and equally distribute meat in each bag on top of the chips. Then either add the remaining ingredients or serve the toppings family style.
A campfire with s’mores is what makes camp truly camp! Being able to provide gluten-free graham crackers for s’mores is really special. This recipe allows you to enjoy the gooey fun of s’mores with no need for a campfire.
Nut free, vegetarian, corn free
1 stick melted butter plus 1 tablespoon
8 gluten-free graham crackers
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup gluten-free flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup chocolate chips
1½ cups regular-size marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350° F. Start by buttering the bottom of a square baking dish with the extra 1 tablespoon of butter. Then use the graham crackers to form a single, spaced-out layer on the bottom of the dish. Leaving space around each cookie will allow the brownie batter to fill in all the space. Next, combine melted butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and flour, then mix until combined. Add three eggs and continue to mix. Finally, add cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Mix to combine and pour over layer of graham cracker. Bake for 3 minutes in preheated oven. Remove the brownies and top with the marshmallows. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes and then broil for 30 seconds to 1 minute to help lightly brown the topping for a toasted marshmallow look. Marshmallows can burn very easily. Be attentive once they are added and make sure the broiler is far enough from the topping. Allow to cool and enjoy.
Interested in learning more about Camp Celiac?
Visit campceliac.org or contact the camp directly at [email protected]. Please also consider a donation to help provide a Camp Celiac experience to as many campers as possible.