Kids’ parties require a bit of planning and preparation to ensure all attending are catered for and not left feeling alienated due to a food intolerance, or worse a child falling ill due to a food allergy.
In previous articles I have covered food and drink options and a little research will find any number of good healthy options for a successful party. With the number of children having allergies and intolerances ever increasing it is worth having a look at the background of party foods. Traditional options are now for many no longer an option.
It was only two generations ago that intolerances were few, so what has happened in that time? Many things have changed, more than just foods, but as this is about parties and foods, food will be the focus. Wheat, dairy, eggs and sugar are the basis of many party foods. Two generations ago, cows ate grass and were grazing in minimal numbers per hectare. Two generations ago, wheat was wheat. It was grown on large, naturally fertilized fields. The wheat was harvested, milled into flour and went off to the consumer. Two generations ago sugar was unprocessed, sourced from cane, again from large natural acreage. Two generations ago, eggs were from your own chooks that were running around feeding on whatever nature provided. Two generations ago, we did not have food technology that was profit driven to feed the masses using the least raw product. Or, indeed technology-created foods, ie. foods that do not occur naturally.
Oh dear, didn’t that just take the fun out of the party?! Food for thought though!
For this generation, the consumption of dairy, as an example, means consuming a product that may not even be whole milk. It may be hydrogenated, standardised, homogenised, reconstituted and certainly pasturised. Down line products such as cheese and yoghurt etc will be also affected. Cattle will be affected by the stress of high numbers of stock per hectare, which also makes it necessary to supplement feeding. Stock feeds are often not fit for human consumption, bi-product, or non-human grade grains. Stale bread, lollies, biscuits and chips, for example, that are less than consumer perfect also go into stock feed. The net result of this is that you may have a reaction to dairy more so from what comes through the milk from what cattle are being fed, than the milk itself. The other food groups mentioned earlier have gone through a similar progressive change to the point where it is easy to lose sight of the original natural food source.
So back to the party…
Where possible, source foods that are additive free, unprocessed and not scientifically hybridised or GMO. “Unprocessed” is the key word here. Keep sugars to a minimum and hydration to a maximum. Throw in some digestive foods such as paw paw, papaya and pineapple. Fermented foods are a great way to help little tummies cope with party excesses. Dress things up a bit. As an example, serve fresh grape juice garnished with mint or sweet lemon in a chilled cocktail glass (preferably a food grade plastic glass). Most importantly keep it light and fun, with activities that suit the age group you are catering for.