Juneteenth – A Celebration of Freedom by April Walker in the June 2013 issue of CarbSmart Magazine.
Imagine being born into a life of servitude, a life without freedom of choice, freedom of love, or freedom of work. Your life is not yours to live. Your children are not yours to keep. From one minute to the next, you or your loved ones could be subjected to brutality at the hand of your overseer. After generations of living under brutally deplorable conditions, one sweet day it is announced that your enslavement is over. You are free. You and your descendants will no longer be subjected to government-sanctioned slavery. Can you imagine the joyous celebrations held in honor of such a momentous occasion?
Provided by Moorland Spingarn Research Center:
“Juneteenth,” “28th Day of May”, and “Emancipation Day” are just a few of the colorful names given to the modern-day freedom celebrations held across the United States and within the District of Columbia. These celebrations are not commemorating the date of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued on January 1, 1863. Except for the District of Columbia’s observance, these celebrations commemorate the dates of the first readings of the Emancipation Proclamation within each Southern state. These are hugely significant dates, as these readings were only able to take place after each state was under Union control. One by one, Union troops moved in and regained control of each state, then read the Emancipation Proclamation to the citizens.
Unfortunately, it took over two years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation before these readings occurred. Even more unfortunate was the sad realization that slaves within non-Confederate states would have to wait a little longer before receiving their freedom. Finally, in December 1865, all slaves were freed with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery and indentured servitude. At last, freedom rang throughout the United States, and the celebrations were underway.
The original festivals commemorating these freedom days featured a wonderful array of delicacies, joyous music, lively dances, and glorious games to be enjoyed by all. They were awash with the joy of new-found freedom. Families came from far and wide to enjoy the events. The tattered rags from their enslaved pasts were gleefully tossed into the rivers and streams never to be worn again. All generations partied together, celebrating in unison. Today’s festivals are surprisingly similar, but as one would assume, they are on a larger scale — more people, more food, more music, more dancing, and more games than ever.
All this celebrating may seem innocuous, especially considering the physical activity that abounds at these festivals. Of course, the dancing and game-playing would be a terrific addition to any low-carb lifestyle. However, most of the delicious dishes offered at these celebrations could easily throw any low-carb lifestyle for a loop. Much of the fare served at these jubilant celebrations is a colorful display of what is wrong with American dining, including many carb-laden hallmarks of Black American cooking: floured and fried, flour-filled, and/or sugar-filled. Do not let yourself become a rider on a low-carb train headed for derailment. With a few suggestions, you can easily enjoy the Freedom Day celebration without missing a beat, while having a deliciously good time.
Foods to Avoid (Not Low-Carb)
- Anything battered, including most fried foods.
- Items with hidden sugars, especially barbecue sauces.
- High-carb vegetables – corn, white or sweet potatoes, legumes
- Items with hidden flour or high carb thickeners, including cream soups and casseroles (and casseroles including cream soups!)
Foods to Enjoy (Definitely Low-Carb)
Check out our Low-Carb Recipes.
- Simple grilled meats without bread and sauce.
- Slow-smoked ribs or turkey – without sugary sauce.
- Naked fried high protein items, such as chicken.
- Pickled offerings such as eggs, pig’s feet, cucumber pickles, or okra pickles (watch out for sweet pickles).
- Low-carb veggies prepared without sugar or flour
- Turnips/Collard/Kale/Mustard Greens
- Green Beans
If you are afraid to tempt yourself with the carby side of soul food, sure to be found at those celebrations, you could always have your own freedom celebration at home. Barbecue is the most authentic food to simulate the historic celebrations from long ago. You could provide a wide selection of grilled and smoked meats, as well as carb-reduced sides and low-carb veggies. Caulitater salad could be prepared in lieu of potato salad. (Editor’s note: I have made well over a dozen different potato salad recipes using cauliflower instead of potatoes and I have never had a failure!) Coleslaw can be made with sugar substitute, stevia, or monkfruit instead of the usual sugar. Deviled eggs are a great traditional addition to a barbecue and are naturally low in carbohydrates. Do not forget to purchase or prepare your choice of sugar-free barbecue sauce.
Although the fried foods at public festivals are off-limits, you can include them in your own personal celebration. Pork rind crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan makes a fabulous substitute for breadcrumbs to batter meats and veggies. It is quite simple to prepare fried foods the low-carb way: Dip the meat or veggies for frying in an egg wash, adding your preferred seasonings (I love using a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce). Place breading mixture in a plastic bag and shake the meat and veggies in it a piece or two at a time. Allow food to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to frying. Fill a skillet halfway with peanut oil and preheat over medium heat. Fry over medium heat until done. Enjoy. For okra and fish frying, I prefer almond flour because it is similar to corn meal in texture. If using almond flour, check the temperature more often; almond flour tends to burn easily due to the high protein content.
“Juneteenth”, “28th Day of May”, or “Emancipation Day.” No matter what you call it, these initial days of freedom are more than worthy to be celebrated and passed down for generations to come. Being on a low-carb plan does not have to stop you from enjoying the celebration. So, feel free to join the party, while still paying homage to your low-carb plan.
More Low Carb Articles by April Bradford
A Celebration of Freedom by April Walker from CarbSmart Magazine Issue 4. Whether you celebrate freedom with just family or with the whole community, we give you the secrets to keep it down-home delicious and nutritious.
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