Happy 4th of July: Ideas and Recipes for Enjoying the Weekend

•Keep it simple

•Condiment creativity

•Fruits are treats, too

•BYOB: bring your own bbq

•Replace candy with party poppers

Bar-b-ques, fireworks and red-white-n-blue. The 4th of July is fast approaching, but how do those with allergies enjoy it? Food is such an important part of our daily routine, especially when holidays roll around. What better way to celebrate our country’s independence than with burgers, hot dogs, s’mores and soda? Well, when you’re dairy-free, gluten-free, corn-free, beef-free, chicken-free, etc. this involves getting creative. Some ideas that come to mind are, once again, keeping it simple. It’s always amazing to me how good food tastes without doing much to it. Seasoning with sea salt and pepper may sound really plain and boring, but it’s actually really good. Other spices to incorporate, if their tolerated, include garlic, ginger, kelp granules, fresh basil or onions.

Get creative with condiments. If you have a corn-free ketchup, use it (when I checked, Safeway ‘O’ Organics was reported as corn-free). Try out the mustard recipe I have on here; mix it with honey to make it into a honey-mustard dipping sauce. If you’re tolerating soy, try grapeseed Vegenaisse. I think it’s delicious and you can add some different things to it to make dips (mustard, vinegar, etc.). Olive oil and sea salt is always a good dipping sauce, especially with some vinegar added.

When it comes to desserts, remember that even a big bowl of fruit is a sweet treat. Blueberries, cherries and coconut whip cream gives you your red, white and blue and happy smiles! You can also try the blueberry pie I have posted here or Real Chocolate Cake. Watermelon fruit bowls are also fun- scoop out the meat of the watermelon and dice it up, then mix together a variety of fruits inside the watermelon bowl. You could use grapes, mangoes, melons, berries, etc. Top each serving with a dollop of canned coconut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

If you’re going somewhere to bar-b-que, think about picking up a cheap (or not so cheap) small bar-b-que, just for cooking ‘safe’ foods. We got a pretty nice and portable Weber Q, that can actually cook a lot of food, and we don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. We also have a little bar-b-que basket, where you put the food in between two metal pieces and then you can cook the food right over the open fire. Of course if there were hot dogs Ry could have, that would make it easier. We use to give him buffalo ones, but he doesn’t seem to tolerate that meat anymore and the turkey ones I’ve seen have potato starch in them, which we can’t do. Oh well.

Another fun thing are those little party poppers that have been in the stores lately. You pull back the string and some confetti pops out. They are nice and small and good replacements for candy. Any holiday or special occasion can be a challenge because food plays such a central role; it sometimes gets depressing and overwhelming, but realizing the multitude of alternatives out there makes it a little bit easier. However, also recognize when it won’t be a healthy situation for you or your child and don’t be afraid to say no. There have been times when we don’t go to events, such as a brunch because Ry reacts so strongly to eggs, we can’t even cook them in the house. It scares me to think of him being around a lot of eggs in the air. On the other hand, it’s good to get out because we don’t want to feel any less “normal” (whatever that means...) for living with allergies, eczema, asthma, etc. I hope these tips and ideas are helpful and any other ones, please feel free to comment!

Food Ideas:

• turkey burgers (ground turkey mixed with sea salt and a couple tablespoons teff or sorghum flour)

• pork chops or turkey drumsticks bar-b-qued with sea salt and pepper

• shish kebobs (chunks of meat, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus, etc. season with oil or shortening, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic)

• salmon filet cooked with lemon juice, garlic, sea salt and pepper

• vegetable bar-b-que packs (place zucchini and onions in the middle of a piece of tin foil, sprinkle with oil or shortening, salt and pepper, then fold up corners to seal veggies in, bar-b-que until done...you can use any veggies you’re tolerating- carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.)

• fresh veggie pasta (cooked rice noodles mixed with basil and sauteed zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, onions, etc., mixed with olive oil and sea salt and pepper)

• sweet potato fries (slice sweet potatoes in fry-like pieces, spread around on a baking sheet, sprinkle with oil or shortening, sea salt and pepper, bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until done)

• fruit bowl or fruit kebobs

• fresh watermelon, sliced

• blueberry pie with teff crust

drinks: sparkling water; La Croix (sparkling flavored water, ingredients say natural flavors, but I’ve called the company and the natural flavor is the flavor of the soda ie: lime La Croix natural flavors is lime); punch made with seltzer water, orange juice and cranberry juice, throw some fruit in it to float around (strawberries and blueberries); 100% pure juice (Tree Top Apple Juice in 1-gallon jugs is all juice, some Cascade Farms is pure, frozen Minute Maid without calcium or anything else added/fortified)

I intended this list to be a few ideas but my brainstorming went a bit longer than planned...oh well, enjoy!