Healthy Desserts for Juneteenth Food Festivities

I have a confession, I had not heard of Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the abolition of slavery in the United States, until recently. I was flipping through the newspaper and saw a photo of a stunning Strawberry Slab Pie, along with a reference to Juneteenth food festivities.

Healthy Summer Desserts For Juneteenth Food Festivities

The text that went along with the pie photo stated that red summer desserts are ideal for the Juneteenth celebration. Since I wasn’t familiar with the holiday, I decided to do a bit of research. The intersection of food and history is a great way to get the wheels of my brain turning.

What Is Juneteenth?

The word “Juneteenth” is a portmanteau, in that it combines the meanings of two other words. Take for example the term “brunch,” which blends “breakfast” and “lunch.” In our case, Juneteenth combines the words “June” and “nineteenth” which I think is pretty cool.

When Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is not just any day in the teens of June, it is June 19th. This holiday celebrates freedom and is rooted in Texas. Juneteenth marks the day in 1865, more than two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, that slaves in that state were freed.

Soul Food

Juneteenth Emancipation Anniversary Celebration

Adrian Miller: writes in his fabulous book Soul Food:

Juneteenth is an Emancipation anniversary celebration. It commemorates when federal troops, under the command of General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans that they were free. However, the troops arrived on 10 June…1865 –a full two and one-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. The planters delayed the news for obvious economic reasons.

Cel-Liberation Day or Freedom Day

The Juneteenth holiday is also known as Cel-liberation Day, Freedom Day, or the Black Fourth of July.

A Tale Of  Two States

The story of Emancipation in the United States is a complex one that winds on for more than a century. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, while the United States was embattled in the Civil War. If we compare the formal abolition of slavery in two states, West Virginia and Mississippi, we see that their approaches were very different.

Emancipation In West Virginia

West Virginia was created when the western part of Virginia seceded from the Confederacy in the midst of the Civil War on June 20, 1863.

On that date, it became the 35th state and the last slave state admitted to the Union. A year and a half later, on February 3, 1865, the West Virginia legislature ratified the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the state. This was just prior to the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865.

Emancipation In Mississippi

Did you know that Mississippi did not officially abolish slavery until 2013? It was the last state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment and did so on February 7th of that year, when it submitted the required documentation to make slavery officially illegal in the state. Essentially, it took 148 years to submit the paperwork, since the Thirteenth Amendment was passed on December 6, 1865.

Lift Black Voices

I took a bit of a pounding from All Lives Matter proponents and Candace Owens fans in the comments of this blog post, and I am guessing someone here will call me out for calling out the above. So be it. Nothing I can’t handle.

Juneteenth And Passover

Now, back to Juneteenth food festivitiese and healthy red desserts for it. With their common themes of freedom and food, for me, Juneteenth brings to mind the Jewish holiday of Passover. I’ve updated our Passover menu to be incredibly healthy and low-carb and provide similarly healthy recipes below for Juneteenth.

Low-Carb Strawberry Lemonade

Healthy Red Summer Drinks For Juneteenth

In Soul Food, the book mentioned above, Miller states that “Juneteenth is now the closest thing to a national Emancipation celebration.” He discusses the tradition of consuming red drinks and provides a hibiscus tea recipe –you’ll have to buy the book to get that. In the meantime, try my Low-Carb Strawberry Lemonade.

Strawberry Crisp

Healthy Red Summer Desserts For Juneteenth Food Festivities

The New York Times points out the culinary tradition of eating red desserts at this celebration, “On Juneteenth, the picnic table overflows with summertime pies and red foods, a symbol of perseverance,”1 and also states, “Red foods are customary for Juneteenth, the crimson a symbol of ingenuity and resilience in bondage.”2 My Keto Strawberry Crisp recipe above makes a great Juneteenth dessert.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Healthy Desserts For Juneteenth Food Festivities

Another beautiful red dessert you can try for Juneteenth food festivities is the low-carb Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp from Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cake For Juneteenth

I’ve also seen that red velvet cakes are a Juneteenth tradition. On that note, you can serve the Red Velvet Cupcakes from my second book Gluten-Free Cupcakes for the holiday.

Juneteenth Celebrations

Holidays are potent symbols of the obstacles we face and hopefully overcome. Like Passover and fleeing Egypt, this one is, Juneteenth shares the theme of freedom from enslavement. It’s easy to get excited about the Passover Seder and all of the great food that goes along with it. Likewise, it may be easy to get caught up here in Strawberry Lemonade recipes and Red Velvet cupcakes. But let’s not forget what we are celebrating, and how very far we have to go to Lift Black Voices and create true equality in this country.

Resources For Social Equity

I have more for you here on the blog when it comes to Resources for Social Equity and Inclusion and plan to continue writing about food, health, and social justice.

Have You Heard Of Juneteenth?

Leave a comment and let me know if you are as ignorant as I was when it comes to the Juneteenth holiday.

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paleo cooking from elana's pantryGluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

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40 responses to “Healthy Desserts for Juneteenth Food Festivities”

  1. Elana, thank you for your recent blogs and your thoughtful reflection. I found them to be thought provoking. I’m a visible minority that has experienced racism but also privileges as there are different degrees of acceptance in society. People of African heritage are subjected to the greatest degree of prejudice. I’ve shared your post with many friends as you so eloquently wrote about racism and white privilege (privileged non-blacks). And highlighting that we need to speak up to support BLM.

    • Judy, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience here, grateful we can support BLM together, and take good care!

  2. Thanks for your continued blogs on systemic racism. I have been shocked and saddened by some of the hateful comments you have received in response to your writings. Equality for all was the basis for the creation of this country.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Unfortunately, our Founding Fathers had a different interpretation of “all men”, but this principle, nonetheless, is one we must continue to strive for.

    I appreciated your mini-history lesson with “The Tale of Two States” and on the background of Juneteenth. I’m somewhat embarrassed to acknowledge that I was not aware of the importance of this date. I’ve always considered myself to be well-educated and enlightened, but this just shows that learning never ends. Thanks again.

    • Nancy, thanks for your comment, I think we may be twins in both our ignorance of Juneteenth and our hunger to learn more. Glad to be on the path with you and thanks for citing the Declaration of Independence and for your astute analysis of who it included at the time. Grateful for you.

  3. I have seen the angry replies on Facebook and they truly make me sad. Personally, I’m getting tired of the people who say they don’t want to see anything about it because turning our minds away from it is a big part of the problem.

    I shared this post on my Happy Gut For Life page because I love what you said. I had heard of Juneteenth before but only probably within the last years. I hadn’t really given it much thought until now though. I do hope it becomes something we all celebrate.

  4. Hi Elana!!!
    I’ve been following you for almost 7 years now when I changed my diet to Paleo and needed gluten free recipes for cupcakes and cakes. All of your recipes are delicious! And because of that I keep sharing them and recommending people to follow you and buy your books. So thank you!
    About Juneteenth, I didn’t know what it was until this year. Every time I changed my monthly calendar I saw this date on my iPhone and had no clue. After learning from it I made sure I wrote it down and I’m being conscious of it as well as talking about it with my kids. I’m so happy that you are comparing it to Passover and being empathic with our black brothers and sisters. Thank you for using your platform to make a change. We need to keep doing it because it’s not enough to say “I’m not racist” but to “fight or call out racism” when we see it.
    I wish you the best!

    • Tania, thanks for your support and for spreading the good word about my books! And more important, thanks for being on this healing path with me in pursuit of racial equity and justice. Take good care :-)

  5. thank you for your comments and article and great recipes. Juneteenth is something I need to learn about as well!

  6. Thanks for posting this research and recipes Elana. I recently learned about Juneteenth too and was interested in more information about it. We are celebrating tonight with Hoppin’ John (made with cauliflower rice :) and Cherry pie made with your coconut almond pie crust! I will share the history you provided with the family over dinner tonight. Be well.

  7. Elana thank you for your recent articles and the work you are doing. I have followed you for almost 15 years and many of your recipes are standards in my kitchen. I am a naturopathic doctor and I have a newsletter that I send from time to time. I recently wrote about systemic racism and white privilege. Although I am a long-time activist, it was the first time I had written about anything besides health topics in my newsletter. I received some very angry replies. It can be a jarring experience and so I want you to know that I support you and your vision. I agree that it is past time for us to speak out more widely. I figure it is time for me as a white woman of privilege to take on more of the burden of society’s problems and do what I can to make things better. Thank you Elana.

    • Dr. Michelle, thank you for your incredible comment. So amazing that we’ve been on this healthy eating path together for nearly 15 years, and glad that we are now on the path to racial equity together, using our platforms to speak out about health for everyone.

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