Posted in Bread/Muffins, Newly-Diagnosed, Tips and Tricks

A Summer of Cookouts

Summer has unofficially arrived. The pools are open, the sno-ball stands are back in operation, farmer’s markets are back in full swing, and of course the sweet aroma of BBQ is back in the air. That’s right…it’s BBQ season. From Memorial Day on, the invitations are in full swing. Cookouts become a regular part of the weekend routine. They’re great little gatherings where friends, family, co-workers, etc.  share in laughs, fellowship, and delicious food.  Of course you’re nervous: doesn’t your entry into the world of food allergies make these laid-back, joyous gatherings a source of great stress and anxiety?? Isn’t the simple joy of a summer BBQ a thing of the past for you?? Don’t worry, the answer is absolutely not. It just takes a little bit of planning and you’ll be ready to go!

Here’s a tip: grill ahead. Yes, you can bring your own meat and foil and spatula and barbecue along with the resident grillmaster. However, I personally would still be a bit nervous about that. Your burger will be in awfully close proximity to bread-crumb-filled burgers, swiftly melting cheddar cheese…not to mention those toasted burger buns. In my mind, it’s just a recipe for disaster. In the end, it’s your call but I personally prefer the “grill ahead and pack a lunchbox” option 🙂
Katie’s 5 Simple Steps to a Summer of Fantastic “You-Safe” BBQs:
  •   A few hours prior to BBQ time, cook something delicious. However, I would suggest you always pose the following question to yourself, “Self, how will this taste reheated later??” If it won’t reheat well, choose a different entrée. I don’t actually have a grill at the moment, apartment living only allows for so much. However, I did recently discover the joy that is a broiler. That’s right, in the 28 years I’ve lived on this earth, I never used a broiler until a few weeks ago. (in my defense, our house growing up had an electric oven and thus no broiler)…and I can tell you my life will never be the same. Burgers, roasts, chicken: I’ve found a multitude of ways to put my newfound toy to good use. 🙂 
  • Make  a side dish: Take it from me, there’s nothing like getting to a cookout and seeing a vast picnic table full of side dish options for the other guests while you sit with just your lonely (albeit delicious ) entrée of choice. Yes, potato chips can suffice in a pinch…but really try to treat yourself. It will make the whole afternoon far more enjoyable.

These are amazing and SO simple! Just chop up small red potatoes, mix them in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, sea salt, and pepper, then bake at 450 until browning 🙂
  • Learn to to love lettuce! Yes those delectably satisfying hamburger rolls are a thing of the past…but take it from me, a decent lettuce wrap really can be an acceptable substitute. Just choose your lettuce carefully (I always go for the romaine) and DON”T skimp. You have to use a lot to give it an effective bun-like quality. And seriously, it’s lettuce; whether it’s money or calories you’re counting, it won’t put much of a dent in either category. 
  • Pickles. They’re amazing, they’re delicious, they’re cheap.  Always have a jar in the fridge. That’s all I have to say about that.

  • Dessert  is easy! AS I’ve said time and time again, don’t sell yourself short and decide to skip dessert. It may seem like a great idea when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking yet another thing for yourself in advance…but trust me, you’ll feel much differently when dessert time arrives and you’re sitting with an empty plate. Additionally, in summer, dessert is even easier! Fruit salad is always a perfect default option. Buy some grapes, watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries, cut them up and toss them in a bowl! You’ve got and allergy-safe (and somewhat patriotic) dessert that you can share with the group! Just make sure you dig in first before those contaminated spoons have a chance to do so. Heck, bring some whipped cream for other guests to add to their fruit serving and you may be the new hero of the BBQ.  It’s that simple!!  
    • And for those gatherings where you’re feeling slightly more ambitious, you’ve got to try this recipe. I think I’m still on Cloud-9 from eating these and it was over 3 weeks ago! (Remember: end of year craziness = no time to share great recipes) 
Perfect Summer-Time Lemon Bars
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free) 
Squeeze 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice.
Mix with agar flakes (3 Tbsp. flakes with 3 Tbsp. water)
(unless you’re fortunate enough to eat egg whites…then I’d say stick with those!)
Mix lemon juice, agar paste, 1/4 cup grapeseed oil, 1/4 cup agave.
Seriously, mini food processor = best kitchen device ever.
Meanwhile bake crust at 350 for 15 minutes:
(1.5 cups almond meal, 2 Tbsp. grapseed oil, 1Tbsp. agave, 1 Tbsp. vanilla, salt to taste)
Pour topping over the baking crust. Continue baking for 15 minutes then remove.
Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.
And they were so good that I forgot to take an “After” picture before they were all gone! Trust me, they’re delicious!! Or just invite me to a summer cookout and I’ll bring you a batch myself 🙂
Here’s to a fun, safe, and relaxing summer! May your cookouts be filled with laughter, friendship, and delicious/you-safe foods. Anxiety, stress, and ants just don’t deserve a place at the table 🙂
This is what a summer BBQ is all about: friendship, laughter, and joy:-)

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