The Key to Achieving an Allergy-Friendly Barbecue Party
When the word “barbacoa” first appeared in print in 1526, it described a way of smoking meat outside. While today we can barbeque our meats indoors or out, there are still few things as enjoyable as an outdoor barbeque party with friends. However, with the incidence of allergies on the rise, your neighborhood get-together could give your guests a headache or worse if you do not take a few preventative steps to protect guests who may have health issues associated with your menu or venue.
Top Common Allergens At A Barbecue
If you are having an outdoor BBQ, your prime sites for potential allergens will be the menu, or the food you are serving, and the venue, meaning the physical location of the barbecue. Allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, with more than 50 million Americans experiencing symptoms each year. For children, the odds are even higher, with nearly one in 10 reporting seasonal hay fever according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Fortunately, there are ways you can “have your outdoor barbecue and eat it too” even if you are hosting right in the middle of allergy season.
If none of your guests have seasonal allergies, they may have some sort of food allergy. While most people think of peanut allergies when they think of food allergies, which are often immediately symptomatic, there are actually seven common food allergies that have nothing to do with peanuts. Many food allergens cause mild discomfort rather than asphyxia, so being aware of potential problems and provide your guests with edible alternatives that can still make their BBQ experience enjoyable.
Proactive Party Planning
Ready to just throw in the towel and move your barbeque indoors? Don’t give up just yet. The first step is becoming aware of potential allergies your guests may be dealing with. Once you know you can easily accommodate them, you should then consider the season.
Spring and fall are the most popular times of year for outdoor parties in most areas of the country. However, spring in particular is also the most likely to present problems for those with hay fever or who have mold allergies, since rain and mildly humid weather may exacerbate these symptoms. The day before the party, cut your lawn as short as your grass can handle to keep pollen to a minimum the day of your party. If you have compost bins in your yard, move them out of the area entirely since they are a prime source of mold spores.
As far as food allergens go, the best way to handle these potential issues is to offer a variety of items on the menu. For example, serve both chicken breasts and red meat, or offer a fish option. Since fish can be hard to grill if you are a newbie, you might want to ask guests in advance if they prefer a pescatarian option. Also, keep your grill clean and your foods separate, since some food allergies can be triggered simply by foods touching.
The great thing about taking a little time to prepare for an allergen-free outdoor barbeque is that once it begins, you have peace of mind. You can enjoy your guests, your yard, and, of course, your cooking completely, knowing you have done everything to optimize the evening’s fun for everyone in attendance.