Memorial Day marks a time for reflection, honoring those who have served, and coming together with loved ones. But for individuals living with food allergies, social gatherings often come with the added layer of caution and concern for their dietary needs. This Memorial Day, as you host or attend picnics and barbecues, it's important to remember that creating a safe and inclusive environment starts with something as simple as the food you serve.

Whether you're managing a gluten intolerance, nut allergy, or any other dietary restriction, these recipes and tips ensure that everyone can enjoy the holiday feast without sacrificing on flavor.

The Importance of Inclusive Dining

For the food allergy community, every menu presented is a potential minefield of allergens. Cross-contamination, miscommunication about ingredients, and unidentified allergens can turn a joyous occasion into a medical emergency. By crafting a menu that is clearly labeled and free from common allergens, you're not just catering to a 'special diet'—you're showing empathy and respect to all your guests.

Inclusive dining is about more than just avoiding certain ingredients. It's a commitment to awareness, preparation, and community. With this mindset, your Memorial Day gathering stands out as a safe haven for everyone, where the focus is on fun and fellowship, not dietary dangers.

The Common Allergens to Avoid

Before we jump into the recipes, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the most common allergens that you'll want to steer clear of. These are:

  • Peanuts and Tree Nuts: These can be hidden in numerous dishes and their oils, as well as as an ingredient in many pre-made goods.
  • Milk: An ingredient found in a wide variety of foods from main courses to desserts.
  • Eggs: A common binding agent in recipes from baked goods to burgers.
  • Soy: A versatile ingredient that's often used in processed foods like pasta sauces and as a meat substitute.
  • Wheat: The main culprit in many types of flours and pasta.
  • Fish and Shellfish: Often served in specific dishes, but their derivatives can show up unexpectedly too.

By reading labels carefully and preparing dishes from scratch as much as possible, you can avoid these allergens and minimize risk for your guests.

Safety Tips for Memorial Day Gatherings

To ensure that your Memorial Day gathering is a safe one, here are some general safety tips to follow:

  • Open Communication: If you're a host, reach out to your guests in advance to ask about their dietary needs. If you're a guest, never hesitate to communicate your allergies clearly and in detail.
  • Labeling: Have a clear labeling system for allergen-free dishes. Word it clearly as 'nut-free' or 'dairy-free' so it can't be confused.
  • Ingredient Awareness: Learn to recognize ingredients that are synonymous with common allergens. For example, casein is a milk derivative, and many people don't expect to find it in 'dairy-free' labeled dishes.
  • Cross-Contamination: Prepare and serve allergen-free dishes before anything else. Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and serving platters to avoid cross-contamination.

By adhering to these tips and remaining diligent, you can be confident in the safety of the food you provide or enjoy at your next gathering.

Allergen-Free Recipe Ideas for Memorial Day

Transform your traditional Memorial Day menu into an allergy-friendly feast with these mouthwatering recipes.

1. Allergen-Free Coleslaw

A quintessential side dish, coleslaw is a hit at any barbecue. With this recipe, tailored for those with dairy and egg allergies, everyone can indulge in the creamy goodness without worry.


  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free milk (use a thicker variety, like oat milk, if you prefer a creamier slaw)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and grated carrot.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, dairy-free milk, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

This allergen-free coleslaw is guaranteed to be a hit and offers a fresh, tangy counterpart to your Memorial Day spread.

2. Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken (Gluten-Free)

Marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a zesty blend of herbs and lemon for a gluten-free, protein-packed star of the grill.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper to make the marinade.
  2. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and turn to coat the chicken. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving.

This herby delight celebrates the season's fresh flavors and is a safe, satisfying option for all your gluten-free guests.

3. Vegan Sweet Potato Salad

Swap traditional potato salad for a heart-healthy, vegan version that features roasted sweet potatoes and a light, tangy dressing.


  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced dill pickles
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss the sweet potato cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the dairy-free mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and maple syrup to make the dressing.
  5. Add the roasted sweet potatoes, celery, red onion, pickles, and parsley to the bowl and toss until well combined.
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

This vibrant vegan salad will add a burst of color and nutrition to your table, while keeping the allergens at bay.

Sweet and Savory Desserts for Everyone

No Memorial Day gathering is complete without a selection of sweets. Here are two allergen-free dessert recipes to cap off your celebration on a sweet note.

4. Fudgy Vegan Brownies (Nut-Free)

Indulge in a classic chocolate treat that's both decadent and nut-free. These vegan brownies are sure to be a hit with all your guests.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, combine the dairy-free milk, applesauce, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan before cutting into squares.

These fudgy brownies are rich and satisfying, providing a perfect ending to your Memorial Day meal.

5. Allergy-Friendly Fresh Fruit Sorbet

For a refreshing, allergy-friendly dessert that's as simple as it is tasty, whip up a batch of fresh fruit sorbet. This icy treat is naturally free from the top allergens and is the ideal way to cool down on a warm day.


  • 4 cups mixed fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a blender, combine the mixed berries, cooled syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until smooth.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, if desired.
  4. Transfer the strained mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Enjoy the sorbet immediately as a soft-serve or transfer it to a container and freeze for a firmer texture.

This sorbet captures the essence of summer in every spoonful and is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser for guests of all ages.

Communication is Key

Remember, the most important ingredient in any allergy-friendly gathering is communication. Always keep a dialogue open with your guests, listen to their needs, and make them feel welcome and understood. Your effort to accommodate their dietary restrictions will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

By following these tips and recipes, you're well on your way to hosting a memorable and inclusive Memorial Day celebration. And remember, safe dining doesn't have to be bland or boring. With a little creativity and consideration, you can create a spread that is as delicious as it is allergy-friendly.

This Memorial Day, your table will be a source of joy for everyone, not just those without dietary restrictions. Happy hosting, and may your gathering be a time of camaraderie, good food, and great memories.


Team Flouwr