Entertaining all diets

This article was originally published in December 2013

While it can be frustrating to accommodate conflicting dietary needs and preferences when preparing a feast for extended family, it’s worth the effort. And though family traditions are important, if they don’t work for current generations, it’s OK to change things up.

 

If you’re not sure about your guests’ dietary requirements, ask!

Some people can’t have cow’s milk, but would love a dish with goat cheese. Gluten and soy hide in numerous condiments, and anyone who has to avoid those ingredients can give you pointers. If you’re feeding a diabetic, some carbs might be on the no-fly list, and a cheese plate set out with the desserts could be a hit.

Make a list of everyone in your group, with their allergies or special diet noted.

This will serve as a reference guide when you plan the menu. Does the dish you have in mind work for everyone, or just a couple people? Even if it’s your personal favorite, it might be better to make a single serving for a private treat if it isn’t edible by the majority.

Rethink your proteins.

A beautiful salmon might accommodate more diners than roast beef. Omnivores have been known to happily dive into Field Roast, although they might appreciate a small slice of ham on the side. It’s more welcoming to offer a mix of festive entrées rather than one splendid roast for everyone but the lone vegan.

Happily agree to anyone’s offer to bring a dish to share, but do request that their contributions are labeled with allergens or animal-based ingredients.

And make sure to avoid cross-contamination of allergens with clearly separate serving utensils. If one pie is gluten-free, it defeats its purpose if sliced with the same knife that just cut a gluten-full crust. Careful planning, combined with some creative flexibility, can work wonders.

 

Simple substitutions

Gluten-free crackers

The original flavor from Mary’s Gone Crackers is vegan and gluten-free, and has a terrific nutty flavor and good crunch that makes it appeal to a broad spectrum of tastes; it works on its own or with dip.

India Tree Nature’s Colors

These vegetable-based food colorings tint icing a range of natural shades and are a critical cookie component for kids who need to avoid artificial dyes.

Evaporated Goat’s Milk

A creamy shelf-stable milk that can be used in dessert and casseroles (or as coffee creamer) if you have family members who enjoy dairy but can’t digest cow’s milk.

Millet

This tiny, gluten-free grain from our bulk department adds a crispy crunch to baked goods while letting you avoid tree nuts. Plan on using about half the recipe’s volume of nut meats.

Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend

A versatile gluten-free mix blended from rice, tapioca, potato and sorghum flours, it can be substituted for wheat flour in almost all recipes.

 

Related Reading

Smart holiday feasting

During the holidays it’s easy to overindulge given all the festive foods surrounding us at home, at work and at parties. If you are worried you may be overdoing it and would like to better control the number of delicious calories you consume at your next holiday feast, here are my top five tips for smart holiday feasting.