Summer is about to jump off the hook. We’re just a few days away from the numero uno, all-American, let’s-have-a-giant-food-fest-in-the-name-of-patriotism holiday. I’m joining in the new Whole30 that starts on July 1, so I’m shoring up my commitment to help me navigate our social calendar, which is currently bursting at the seams with get-togethers, travel, cookbook photography… and yay! guests on Fourth of July weekend.
I have a ginormous soft spot in my heart for the Fourth of July. My family always had a reunion at Happy Holiday Pavilion and Pool with all the Italian relatives, and I experienced many Significant Moments at those reunions: heart palpitations when my cousin brought the biggest heart throb at our high school to the picnic and he SAW ME IN MY BATHING SUIT, the thrills of setting off illegal fireworks with my dad that we’d bought at South of the Border in South Carolina, the realization that my uncles weren’t kidding when one of them suggested they have a “Who Has The Biggest Beer Belly” contest (they slouched in lawn chairs and took stock them with a tape measure)… ah, good times.
But we are different, friends. We don’t use the calendar as an excuse to mistreat ourselves with food, right? Right!
So here’s a list of the recipes from my archives that I believe you can take to a picnic or a potluck without tipping anyone off that they’re eating “paleo” or “healthy” or “clean.” They will just nosh and celebrate – and so can you, knowing that you’re taking care of yourself AND participating in a great American tradition of eating food while sweating and enduring/enjoying relatives. Cooking and eating quality food is among the most caring things you can do for yourself and others.
I chose two recipes that can (and should) be made in advance, are easy to cook in large quantities, and will travel well. Plus, it’s hard to go wrong with a big pile of spicy meat.
For salads, I recommend the ones that are the most colorful and will catch peoples’ eye on a potluck table loaded with snack foods.
A giant platter of beautiful raw veggies — jicama, carrot, and celery sticks; snap peas; red and green pepper strips; cucumber coins; whole scallions, mushrooms, and radishes — can be paired with different dips so even committed chip eaters might consume something green or red or orange that came from the earth and not from a package.
Nibbling is a big part of potlucks and picnics, so make sure you have dino-chow snacks on hand, too.
Just in case you find yourself on dessert duty, I recommend my new go-to treat: Sweet & Salty Fudge Bombs. (Unless you’re doing the Whole30. No fudge bombs for strict Whole30 compliance. Eat some Carmelized Coconut Chips instead.)
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