We all have our holiday favorite foods. Foods that bring back memories of cooking with our mother, father, grandmother or even friends. We value recipes handed down over generations that we cannot wait to see at our holiday table when it is time to sit down to a delicious meal with family and friends.
However, there are many people that choose to eat alternatively or have difficulties, such as gluten and dairy intolerance, and/or the need to cut back on fats and salt. So, how do we have a meal where we can accommodate as many people’s dietary needs as possible and still have some of the foods we love?
First, start by asking your guests if they have any special dietary needs. Are they allergic to anything? That is an especially important thing to know. You certainly do not want to feed nuts to someone with a nut allergy. Some other things to consider are guests that cannot tolerate gluten or white or wheat flour, or they are allergic to soy or dairy. Are any of them vegetarians or vegans, or are they are on a Keto diet?
Now that you know these things, how do you incorporate all those things into one meal?
It is helpful to ask your guests if they mind providing at least one major thing they can eat and bring plenty to share. For example, a vegetarian may have a great recipe for an alternative main course to replace turkey or ham, such as portabella mushrooms stuffed with rice, spinach and cheese.
Other main course ideas for vegetarians can be bean-based soups or a delicious chili made with veggies. Black beans can mimic the feel and taste of meat, and black bean meatballs covered in a delicious mushroom sauce can be an appetizer or a main dish.
Someone with a gluten allergy may have a great gluten-free bread they could bring, whether homemade or purchased from a gluten-free bakery or in the local grocery store. There are many gluten-free broths and gravy mixes so you can still have a moist turkey and gravy that is tolerated by even your gluten-free guests.
Some ideas to replace dairy are dairy-free cheeses made from soy, coconut or even almond or cashew milk. I have even seen some dairy-free recipes that use nutritional yeast and/or butternut squash to give the feeling and taste of cheese.
Having many options in vegetables is always a clever idea. Mashed potatoes are great, but so are mashed cauliflower or parsnips. Sweet potatoes do not need to be covered in marshmallows to be delicious. Slice them thinly and coat lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper and layer in a shallow pan and roast for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. If you really want some more sweetness, glaze with organic maple syrup at the end of cooking.
Green bean casserole can be substituted with a much healthier, gluten and dairy-free alternative by taking fresh green beans and gathering into bundles. Tie some with nitrate-free bacon strips for those who eat meat and tie other bundles with chives. Add olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees for a delicious, colorful and healthy side dish.
Desserts are always a favorite. There are lots of recipes for gluten-free pie crust. Just add some fresh berries for a delicious gluten-free pie, and you can substitute dairy whipped cream with full-fat coconut milk whipped up just like whipped cream with a delicious coconut flavor. Or, one of our favorites is pumpkin pie. You can still make a gluten-free crust, and the filling can be pumpkin and coconut cream for a delicious, gluten- and dairy-free pie.
Pinterest has a ton of alternative recipes for gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, vegan and Keto recipes. And many local grocery stores have sections for ingredients you will need to make things yourself or even have whole dishes that just need warmed up.
I hope you find some inspiration to try some new dishes this holiday season and create some new food memories!