Holidays can be tough for Feingold Families. Cousins, friends, and neighbors have appealing-looking artificially-colored cupcakes and tasty-looking hot dogs. Fortunately, there are products out there that provide decent substitutes.
The ol' Fourth of July red-white-and-blue salad with strawberries and blueberries might turn into something a bit more Christmasy when you substitute kiwi for strawberry and forget about those salycilate-containing berries. But kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple make a tasty (red, yellow, and green) fruit salad. Add some mango or passionfruit and you've got quite a variety of tastes.
One of my favorite salads is ambrosia, but maraschino-cherries are the epitome of NON-Feingold-safe food. Marshmallows are not out of the question, though, as I will reveal later...
Most Fourth celebrations include a BBQ. Regular meat for hamburgers is fine (I really like turkey-burgers although Husband just made a red meat-onion-garlic burger that is so divine) but the hot-dogs can be tricky with all those nitrate/nitrite containing brands. Similarly, the hamburger buns and hot-dog buns can be a challenge since many breads contain BHA and/or BHT to keep them fresh.
We use Wellshire Farms hot dogs (and are also big fans of their deli-sliced ham; it comes in several types of which the Turkey-Ham is our most frequently-bought.) For buns, we've used both Rudi's and the Whole Foods Market-made brand. Oroweat also has Feingold-safe breads and these are available at traditional grocery stores.
What do most folks put on their dogs or burgers?
And what is in ketchup?
Tomato. Which is unfortunately a salycilate, and one of the Cat's biggest triggers, at least when he was younger.
Fortunately, Feingold has an "Un-Tomato Sauce" recipe and an associated "Un-Ketchup" recipe. See the end of this entry for both.
What about dessert?
Many holidays have festively-shaped chocolates associated with them. The Fourth is not one of them, but I imagine the summer atmosphere might inspire some s'mores. Either way, I'd like to mention an excellent site that is my source for candy and baking needs: The Squirrel's Nest.
Nancy of the Squirrel's Nest (please read her history; she's the real deal) creates Feingold-safe candies for nearly every holiday. I've gotten some adorable white-chocolate ghosts and dark-chocolate cats for Halloween. I've purchased chocolate Christmas Trees and Stars for Christmas (she also has Hanukkah candy.) The Cat has gobbled up maple-sugar leaves and beautiful sugar-sticks, both from the Squirrel's Nest.
Through the website I've purchased the India Tree sprinkles that are Feingold-safe (not all of them are,) and the Let's Do Organics "Sprinklez" (in chocolate and rainbow colors.) These baking products look just like their artificial counterparts, but they are all-natural. Amazingly, there are candy canes that have RED stripes, yet don't contain that horrid "FDA-approved" red dye found so prevalently in children's food. (The "FA1" on the listing indicates that it is safe for Feingold Stage 1.)
When a classmate has a birthday party, I can easily create a rainbow-sprinkled cupcake for the Cat (although our school district has a wellness policy, so that whole cupcake-notion is hypothetical, though it wasn't in our old district.) For the holidays, I can easily hand the Cat a Feingold-safe candy cane, and nobody can tell the difference. Time and time again, I've created homemade food that "looks store-bought" for the purposes of "blending in." (When the Cat is older and his friends are chewing gum, fear not, I know where to get Feingold-safe gum!)
The Squirrel's Nest also sells Feingold-safe marshmallows (including some chocolate-dipped ones, YUM!) This is so useful. Yes, I have a serious love of marshmallows, but really they are the basis of some great things: homemade fudge, "Rice Krispie" treats (we use EnviroKidz Organic Koala Crisp Cereal,) and the aforementioned s'mores. Do not underestimate the power of having Feingold-safe mini-marshmallows around the house! (Or pack 'em away to camp where you know the s'more making will be a-plenty!)
Similarly, Sunspire makes a pretty convincing M&M substitute, "Sun Drops." Pull out just the red ones (there are no blue) and you could have at least a red-and-white sundae for the Fourth!
We use Trader Joe's Midnight Moo as our chocolate syrup of choice for sundaes or chocolate-milk-making, although we've also used AH!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup (which also makes a Feingold-safe hot-chocolate mix: again, a good summer camp staple!)
Last but not least, the Squirrel's Nest also has various food colorings. Since the Cat doesn't really like the "Un-Kechup," I made him "green sauce" which was really green food coloring in mayonnaise. Yes, I know I shouldn't encourage him to eat mayo, but when he was younger we used the "green sauce" to help him try new foods. (Green is his favorite color.) These days, he prefers his food without the "green sauce," though.
Most of the time I use the food colorings for cookies or to color frosting, although with the festive colored organic all-natural sprinkles, it has become less of an issue that the base frosting or cookie is white. I've admittedly gotten lazy about trying different colors there. Also, my favorite food coloring, made by Dancing Deer, is hard to find. Some Whole Foods stores carry it, but apparently the market was not strong enough to keep much in stock. As the food coloring is perishable, this is a tricky proposition. (I had purchased tons awhile ago, but it went bad) Such is the downside of wanting by definition preservative-free foods!
Homemade food-coloring is possible: spinach for green, tumeric for yellow, cabbage for purple, beets for red. Refrigerate the colored frosting overnight to depend the color. Small amounts of these ingredients don't really alter the flavor, but these colors should be used for decorating rather than frosting the entire cake! (White base, colored lettering / designs.)
In sum, there are many products out there, particularly through The Squirrel's Nest, that can create a great holiday treat.
Oh, did I hear you say you wanted some beer?
Sam Adams is Feingold-safe. How do you feel 'bout that?
Anyway, it is possible to have a BBQ and associated festive cupcake on the Feingold Diet!
And here are the "Un-Tomato" recipes (which I prefer in recipes like meatloaf rather than as a stand-alone sauce or condiment, but try it out to your taste!) These recipes are from The Feingold Association:
1 1-pound can beets, drained well
2 1-pound cans carrots, drained
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 C. water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp sugar
Puree completely in processor or blender (no chunks of carrot left.) Let sit for several hours in the refrigerator for flavors to blend. Onion, garlic, spices, mushrooms, and cooked hamburger may be added to taste for spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, etc.
1 recipe Un-Tomato Sauce
2 sticks celery, diced fine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 C. onion chopped
1/2 C. Heinz white vinegar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 tsp. sugar
Add all ingredients to pan and boil until reduced and thick. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. This usually takes about one hour. Strain sauce. Freeze whatever will not be used within one week. Makes about 3 cups.
None of the products mentioned here have sent me any free samples, paid me to say anything nice about the product, or otherwise encouraged me to write about their product. Similarly, the majority of other products I mention in the "Feingold Tips" section are simply those which our family happens to use. I share them here just as information to other families interested in the Feingold Diet and all-natural alternatives to "popular" brands.
(And NO, the Feingold Association has not paid me to say great things about them, either; after all, it was Dr. Feingold's Diet that made such a difference in my life so many years ago that really I don't need any official compensation because I've already gained so much... both for my life and for the Cat's.)