Foil Pouch Grilling for Memorial Day

Consider foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day. As we all look for ways to interact with friends and neighbors, some thoughtful preparation can make everyone feel safer and more comfortable. If you’re not in a quarantine bubble and are grilling with friends this Memorial Day, you may want to consider individual meals rather than shared plates. Foil pouches are a great way to package food so that it’s only touched by one individual after it’s cooked.

With experts recommending that gatherings stay outside as much as possible, foil pouches are an easy delivery system whether you’re cooking on the grill or baking inside for delivery to the porch or yard. If you invite picky eaters or want to offer your guests flavor choices, pouches can be tailored to individual tastes. This is a great option for those with food intolerance or allergies as well.

When creating individual pouches, the key is making sure you have a way to identify who each pouch belongs to. I like to draw a grid on a sheet of paper that matches the arrangement on my grill or pan. Once the food is done, I put the corresponding name on each pouch with freezer tape. If you’re less messy than I am, you can also use a marker.

Your protein choice may be limited to whatever is available this year. Flexibility will be key to keeping the experience positive. If you’re not sure what flavors to combine, a resource like The Flavor Bible can come in handy.

For the kids, pouches filled with frozen tater tots and meatballs, hot dogs, or burgers are great options. You can top with cheese or dairy-free cheese and provide condiments in individual packets.

Mac & cheese is a kid favorite as well. You’ll want to cook the mac & cheese before creating a pouch. If you have a gluten-free or dairy-free child to consider, look for small portions of microwaveable mac & cheese to keep it simple. Bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, and hot dogs go great with mac & cheese. If you have pizza sauce handy, create pizza flavored packs with mac & cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni.

Deconstructed kebabs are easily adapted to individual tastes. Beef kebabs with bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms will appeal to the more traditional grillers. You can also consider Greek flavors combining chicken, red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese; or go another direction with chicken satay and coconut rice. Choose Thai beef with quinoa, or barbecue chicken with pineapple. The combinations are really limitless and easily adapted to the items available in your area.

Shepherd’s pie can be baked in foil pouches. You can also combine mashed potatoes, fresh spinach and browned breakfast sausage for a variation on this theme. Whatever the flavors, cooking in foil keeps the meat moist and the food warm until you’re ready to serve.

For the comfort of your family and friends, provide drinks in individual cans or bottles rather than pouring from shared bottles and pitchers. Choose prepackaged individual snacks containing nuts, fruit, cheese, trail mix, or chips to accompany your foil pouches. Offer individually packaged condiments, salt, and pepper. You may also want to provide masks, and hand sanitizer (if you can find it) or hand wipes.

There are many different levels of comfort regarding social interactions at this moment. If someone chooses to decline your invitation, wear gloves, bring their own food, or not eat at all, please remember it is not necessarily about you or your food. It is most likely about their understanding of risk and the level of risk they are willing to assume.

We are learning. Recommendations change. Studies will be replaced by larger and better studies. No one will know what facts are supported by the most meticulous science for a great while. And getting it exactly right at this moment may not be as important to someone as feeling safe. (Being safe may be the penultimate goal, but is somewhat elusive without complete isolation.)

Tolerance is a precious gift. I wish it for you and I wish it from you. For me, at multiple moments in March and April, tolerance has been as hard to find as toilet paper. This feels personally sad and culturally worrisome. We can do better.

We have been offered a great opportunity to learn in the form of unavoidable change. We can choose to resist or to grow. Surrendering to change is required for both resiliency and growth. While you relax and enjoy foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day, please remember that now is the time to choose thoughtfully and carefully.

Healthy, Easy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu

This year I need a healthy, easy gluten-free Thanksgiving menu. In the past two weeks, my family has lost two members. We have traveled to visit relatives in hospice care and to plan and attend funerals. We are weary from the travel, the organizational details, and the loss. When I was a child in a small town, the community would have been feeding us. Now we’re spread out everywhere with no central place to deposit casseroles. At moments, it is hard to function through the sadness. There’s no way I can face a full fledged Thanksgiving production in less than two weeks.

Conventional wisdom might be to buy prepared food, but I still prefer homemade and with four gluten-free and family members, the research to find appropriate prepared food sounds exhausting. My solution is to create a healthy, easy gluten-free menu.

I often use holidays as an opportunity to test a recipe. That’s off the table this year. I want to serve dishes that can be prepped, or possibly prepped and cooked, in advance so that I can do a little each day for a week rather than have a marathon kitchen session.
green beans
With that in mind, here’s my menu:

Turkey – I’m going to stick with turkey because the cooking time may be long, but the prep time is minimal. I use a roasting bag to keep the turkey moist. That means there’s no need for continual basting. I flour the bag with sweet white sorghum or gluten-free oat flour and stuff the turkey with a halved apple, celery sticks, and a halved orange. The only other prep is to remove the neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, pat it dry, and lightly oil it with olive oil. You can add herbs or seasoning as well, but I don’t bother and the result is always delicious.

Green Beans and New Potatoes – Green beans are available during any season. I wash them. Then I break the beans into smaller pieces using three containers (washed beans, prepped beans, discarded ends) and the footstool in front of my couch. The lack of need for other tools means I can binge watch while prepping. That makes it seem less like work. These can be cooked in advance and rewarmed Thanksgiving Day.

Baked Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are traditional and healthy when served baked rather than candied. Baking can be done in the oven or the microwave. I like to eat these with nothing but butter added, but I will serve them with a bowl of brown sugar in case someone else desires a sweet topping.

Corn – Rather than cleaning corn on the cob, I’ll use frozen corn. It can be cooked in a matter of minutes and only needs a dash of salt and a pat of butter to be ready to serve.

Orange Cranberry Relish – The only ingredients in this are oranges, cranberries, and sugar. My grandmother served it every Thanksgiving and my sister is usually willing to make it.

Rolls – This is not the year for extensive baking. A local bakery sells frozen Brazilian cheese rolls (Pão de Queijo) that we can pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes just before the meal.

Dessert – I haven’t settled on dessert yet, but I’m considering a version of orange pecan cake. It’s simple, low carb, and delicious.
orange cake
Optional
Cornbread Stuffing – I live in the South where cornbread stuffing is the traditional version. It’s easy to make it gluten-free and the cornbread can be made days in advance. Nonetheless, I haven’t decided whether it will make the final menu. I’m going to wait a few days and see how I feel. It complements the turkey and we all love it, but with rolls on the table, it isn’t essential.

Appetizers – On a normal year, I’d have appetizers to snack on while we visit before our meal. Those might include stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, sausage balls, party mix or something else that requires cooking. If I offer appetizers this year, they will consist of a relish tray or antipasto with gluten-free crackers.

While I realize there’s no green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, corn pudding, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, or pecan pie on this menu, many of the flavors of the most common Thanksgiving dishes are represented. The preparations I’ve chosen for those flavors are more simple and appropriate for a difficult year.

For me, taking this approach is less stressful than trying to purchase appropriate pre-cooked, gluten-free food. I will order groceries through an online app minimizing my shopping time and further streamlining the process.

Whether you choose an elaborate production or a meal in a restaurant, I wish you a peaceful and happy holiday!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

https://www.reynoldskitchens.com/products/cookware/oven-bags/

https://www.oceanspray.com/en/Recipes/By-Course/Sauces-Sides-and-Salads/Fresh-Cranberry-Orange-Relish

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/does-flourless-cake-have-to-be-chocolate/

ad

Super Bowl Party Food That’s Good for Your Vision

As we count down the days to the big game, let’s explore some Super Bowl Party Food that’s good for your vision. If you saw the Rams/Saints game last week, you know how important vision can be.
eyes
When you think of food that’s good for your eyes, you probably think of carrots. I’m pretty sure that’s the only food my parents and grandparents touted as vision enhancing. Carrots are high in beta-carotene that your body turns into vitamin A that is essential for good vision.

Preformed vitamin A or provitamin A carotenoids can also be found in red bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, pistachios, cantaloupe, mangoes, grapefruit, kale, spinach, egg yolks, tuna, and beef liver. My grandmother thought I should eat liver, but she said it was for the iron.

Since you’ll want a clear view of the plays, calls, and commercials next week and next year, Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect time to create a menu high in vitamin A. Here are five items to consider adding to the menu:

Melon Kabobs
For a light touch, skewer cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon balls with fresh mint leaves in between. If you want something more substantial, add balls of fresh mozzarella and folded pieces of prosciutto and drizzle with basil vinaigrette. If you prefer no dressing, alternate leaves of basil and mint between the fruit, cheese, and meat on the skewer.

Greyhound or Salty Dog
If you can find good grapefruit in the winter, serving up vitamin A is no harder than shaking a cocktail. I always use fresh grapefruit and I rarely bother to squeeze them in advance. I just squeeze the fresh juice right into my martini glass. I prefer mixing with Grey Goose® Vodka, but you can use gin if you prefer. The addition of a salted rim turns these Greyhounds into Salty Dogs.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are already popular Super Bowl fare, so you can’t go wrong serving them. Everyone has a favorite version. Whatever yours is will provide vitamin A so there’s no need to vary.

Mango Salsa
The great thing about choosing mango salsa is that it can include red bell peppers to make it even higher in vitamin A. You can dip it with the same tortilla chips that are on the table to dip into cheese dip, guacamole, or layer dip.

Chocolate Pistachio Popcorn
Popcorn is fast, easy, and cheap. Add pistachios, dried apricot and/or dried pineapple pieces and a dark chocolate drizzle and you can add decadent to the description.

If you don’t like dark chocolate, use white chocolate. Just melt the chocolate and drizzle over the top of popped popcorn, dried fruit, and nuts that have been spread out on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Place in the freezer a few minutes to let the chocolate harden then break into chunks and serve.

Any of the five can be served along with the ever-popular chicken wings. No need to upset your party guests by eliminating a favorite before an emotionally charged game.

I can’t really predict who will win or even who will have the most effective commercial. I can predict that I’ll be having a good time and some good food! I hope you do as well!

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/where-is-2019-super-bowl-location-date-time-tv-channel-streaming-everything-to-know-about-patriots-vs-rams/

https://www.therams.com/

https://www.patriots.com/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/finally-learned-pop-popcorn/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”