Holiday Dinner Guests and Dietary Restrictions
If you are hosting get-togethers in the next several weeks have you dared to ask your guests if they have any diet restrictions? A friend was telling me about her family gathering that included vegetarians, a family member with a wheat allergy, and another with a dairy allergy. Oh, and a couple of family members with diabetes.
What to do with so many dinner guests and their diet restrictions?
- Ask! When you invite people over, especially if they aren’t family, or are new family members, ask if they have diet restrictions that you should know about. Even with your usual family, double check – you don’t want to forget that your niece has the nut allergy and cook the chestnuts in the stuffing inside the turkey. Then she might not be able to eat the stuffing or the turkey due to cross-contamination.
- Bring a dish to share. Not sure how to make a gluten-free pie crust? When your guests say, “what can I bring?” invite your guest that is now eating gluten-free bring his or her own pie so they can have some dessert too and so everyone can see how tasty it is. And now, one less thing for you to worry about.
- Integrate the “special” food into the meal. Rather than making the mashed potatoes with the “usual” butter and milk or cream, try it with olive oil (instead of butter) and soymilk (instead of milk or cream). This will fulfill the needs of both the vegetarian and the dairy allergy. And, don’t make two separate batches, just the one for everyone will do. We don’t need to make our guest feel like they have “special needs.”
- Include veggies! Whether someone needs low-fat, wheat-free, dairy-free, diabetic-friendly, or all of these, fresh or steamed seasoned veggies will fit the needs for everyone (green beans are always safe!) and it will help balance out the carbohydrates of the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing.
- Offer soda and alcohol-alternatives! Stay in the Thanksgiving mood with cranberry juice, a squeeze of lime and seltzer and even the kids will think they are toasting with the adults. Also, plain water will do just fine.
While we want to accommodate all of our guests, we don’t want them to feel left out either. Make everyone fit in as best as you can and try not to have the separate dishes for someone unless it is absolutely essential. Just keep in mind that some people do have very specific diet restrictions, and they aren’t all in their head (usually).
If you are hosting anyone for the holidays this year – good luck to you. And enjoy the time you have with your friends and family however many you have coming over. And, please, leave the cleaning to someone else!