Holiday celebrations are traditionally based around sharing food with friends and family. This can get a little tricky when you’re eating Paleo. The 4th of July tends to be dominated by barbeques, hamburgers, hot dogs, booze, explosions, setting things on fire, and other American favorites.
Whether you’re navigating a non-Paleo party this year or throwing your own 4th of July celebration, these tips and recipes that will help you to celebrate Paleo-style!
10 Ways to Stay Paleo at a Party
If you’re going to a party that won’t be fully Paleo, but you want to stick to your food plan, here are 10 expert suggestions to have some fun without going hungry.
1. Bring a dish to share.
This is a great idea when a party is a carry-in. You’ll have a dish that you know you can eat, and you’ll also introduce people to a new dish and maybe even a new dietary concept. Write out a label for your dish, listing the name of the dish and the ingredients. This is especially helpful for other folks who might have food allergies.
2. Bring a dessert.
Even if you bring a main dish or a side, throwing in a dessert as a thank you gift for the hosts can be a great way to show appreciation for being invited. Better yet, bring a dessert to share, too!
3. Bring your own meat.
If the party is a barbecue, bring your own meat so that you’re able to control what’s in your sauce or marinade since most contain non-Paleo ingredients like gluten, corn, soy, and excessive sugar. You can marinade meat in a glass dish or bag overnight, or you can simply take your own Paleo-friendly burger or hotdog, ready to throw on the grill. If you really want to get creative, make your own Paleo kebobs in advance. These grill up quickly and will become a party favorite, so be sure to bring extras to share.
4. Skip the bun.
If you know your host is grilling burgers or hotdogs that don’t contain any non-Paleo ingredients (asking ahead of time is a good idea), then make it Paleo by skipping the bun and opting for Paleo-friendly toppings like lettuce, tomato, and onions.
5. Eat before you go.
Even if you know you’re taking some Paleo-friendly foods, eating before you head to a party can ensure that you’ll make it for the long haul with energy to spare. Having a full stomach to begin with will make you less likely to fall into the trap of eating non-Paleo foods.
6. Take your own condiments.
Whether I am going to a questionable restaurant or to a party, I will often tote a well-sealed spice jar full of Paleo-friendly dressing, like olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Non-Paleo ingredients and vegetable oils dominate the majority of commercial salad dressings, condiments, and spices. They can be hard to avoid, so bring your own sets you up for success. While pickles, ketchup, mustard, and mayo can sometimes be Paleo-friendly, in many cases they contain corn syrup or other non-Paleo ingredients, so taking your own to a party can ensure you won’t have to eat a dry burger.
While beer isn’t actually Paleo, people are often shocked to discover that certain kinds of alcohol are allowed on a Paleo diet. Of course moderation is important, but having said that, let’s chat about the best booze to choose.
Not all alcohol is created equal and in general you should shoot for lighter-colored (clear) spirits over darker spirits (which contain more sugar). Just say no to beer since it’s never Paleo (even gluten-free beer is made from grains). Wine can be a Paleo-friendly option. I personally opt for organic, sulfite-free red wine, certified gluten-free vodka, and silver tequila. Speaking of tequila—we have an amazing Paleo Margarita recipe.
8. Pack your own cooler.
If there are too many potential food contaminants, or if you have food allergies or sensitivities that could result in getting sick from cross-contamination, just keep things extra safe and pack a cooler. Take some nuts, a power bar, and some pre-made food and just pull from your food stash when you need to eat. While this approach may get more questions, it’s a good way to explain why you’re eating the way that you are.
9. Stay hydrated.
Dehydration slows us down, zaps energy, and makes our skin look dull and saggy. Keep sipping water all day and moderate your time spent in the sun to avoid heat exhaustion. Also keep in mind that thirst is commonly confused with hunger, but food alone won’t deliver the quantity of hydration you need to feel great. I generally bring my own water bottle to parties. After losing three of my favorite stainless steel water bottles this way, I now buy a large disposable water bottle to bring with me, so I’m not sad when I misplace it.
10. Stay positive.
Whenever you do something that’s against the grain, you may get questions and even some disapproval. People may pressure you to eat the way that they are, or they may not be understanding of your dietary restrictions. Remind yourself why you chose the Paleo diet in the first place, and stay positive. People won’t always understand.
44 Paleo Recipes for a Paleo 4th of July
Whether you’re hosting your own party or looking for the perfect dish to share at an event, these recipes are sure to shine.
Summertime Paleo BBQ
Pre-marinate your meat in advance (overnight or longer) in a Paleo-friendly marinade to maximize its flavor. Make sure to sear your meat on the hottest spot of the grill, and then place it on a medium-hot spot to finish cooking. Try not to pierce the meat to avoid losing precious juices and running the risk of drying out your meat.
Nothing beats a good burger in the summer. Here are several Paleo twists on this classic dish.
Appetizers and Sides
Tantalize your guests with these mouth-watering appetizers and sides. They make perfect snacks, too!
Here are some festive dessert ideas that will blow your guests away—red, white, and blue style!
While certain kinds of alcohol aren’t Paleo, some can be Paleo-friendly. Try a Creamsicle or a margarita for a refreshing summertime cocktail that won’t bust your Paleo diet.
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Paleo Drinks