Cooking for Special Diets: Sipping Up Summer
It's a good season to be on a special diet, so bottoms up.
Special dieters rejoice – it's a good season for some really good food and some cool, refreshing drinks.
Peaches are starting to ripen in Michigan and markets are brimming with freshly grown produce. My garden is starting to produce tomatoes and broccoli, and basil and lettuce are large bunches of leafy goodness right now. It's time to get outdoors, enjoy our bounties and all that nature has to offer.
This time of year, there are plenty of options.
Even at a summer get-together, a gluten-free burger can be thrown on the grill, a garden salad can be tossed and plenty of vegan/gluten-free/allergen-free dishes can be sliced, diced and dipped into.
Just be careful of cross contamination at summer parties. Make sure serving spoons are separate, no one is dipping the wrong crackers into the hummus and a clean grill or tin foil is used.
But, for the most part, summer snacks can be crowd-pleasing and special-diet friendly. Cut up some watermelon slices, make a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade or visit A Pinch of Spice at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale for organic spices to season your favorite summer dishes.
Don't forget to stay hydrated during all those barbecues and summer festivities.
My big guy can't eat much on the run, but that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy a mug of root beer from A&W or a Slurpee from 7-Eleven. It's kind of a family tradition to stop for a cool drink and special treat on the way to the beach, an outing or a trip to the pool. At home in the backyard, we adults fill our glasses with ice and do some summer sipping of our own while the kids frolic through the sprinkler and dunk their feet into buckets of water.
During a recent trip to Catching Fireflies, I netted a quick summer drink idea: Funky iced tea. Catching Fireflies carries Petals instant iced tea packets in such flavors as Mojito Mint, Lime-Infused Green Tea and Peach-Infused Black Tea. I picked up a few packets to share with my dad on the way to grandpa's house to jump in the pool that afternoon. Sweetened with organic sugar and made with all-natural ingredients, those drinks were no sweat.
And, as I peeked over the side of the pool into the garden, more ideas started to bloom.
Here are a few recipes I brewed for some back yard sipping. They can easily be doubled if you are having some guests over:
Sweet Peach Tea
- 3 large peaches, sliced with skin still on
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 cups brewed tea
Wash and slice peaches, then place in pot with water and sugar. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 1 hour. Pour mixture through a coffee filter over a glass jar or pitcher. Makes about 2/3 cup simple syrup. Brew tea and combine with syrup in pitcher. Cool for 1 hour in refrigerator and pour over ice. Makes about 1 quart. This tea was really sweet. To reduce sweetness, use ¼ cup of sugar or less.
According to Michigan Peach Sponsors, peach season extends from early July to mid-September.
Strawberry Iced Tea With Honey and Vanilla
- About 12 fresh strawberries
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup succanat
- 4 cups brewed vanilla honey tea
Use the same method as Sweet Peach Tea. For some reason, however, the syrup wasn't running through the coffee filter very well in this mixture and it made less syrup. My guess is the succanat made the syrup thicker. I just scooped out the strawberries and poured the liquid into the pitcher. I added 4 cups brewed Stash Organic Vanilla Honeybush tea and succanat. The succanat turned the syrup a deep brown and I used less sweetener because the honey in the tea already made it pretty sweet.
Tea is easy, refreshing and fits in with most every diet. Experiment with tea flavors for your own summer drink concoctions. Here are some places to go for some great tea selections:
- Western Market in Ferndale has a wide variety of teas and honeys. Check out this blog entry on Western's website.
- The Coffee Beanery in Berkley doesn't stock tea bags for sale in its stores, but you can order a cup of Republic of Tea varieties. The barista offered to special order tea for me if I wanted.
- Tea shops in Berkley include The Victorian Tea Parlor and Kristea's Tea Room, which will be closed until July 11.
- The Natural Food Patch in Ferndale has a large variety of teas that don't contain any artificial colors, flavorings or sweeteners.