5 Tips + 5 Recipes for Holiday Hosting if Your Guest Have Dietary Restrictions
Hosting a holiday shindig can be one of the highlights of the season. And, it can also be stressful–coming up with games, making sure your house is clean…and food, don’t forget the food! One stress can be finding out a guest has food allergies or a dietary restriction, when you’re not used to cooking for those type of diets.. We’ve gathered 5 tried-and-true allergy-friendly recipes and 5 tips to help you–the hostess with the mostess–pull of the best party, as well as help your guests feel safe and included.
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If there is one thing I understand–it’s the stress of what to feed someone with a different diet. My name is Megan and I blog at AllergyAwesomeness.com. At just one years old, my son was diagnosed with over 30 food allergies and a rare allergic disease called EOE (eosinophilic esophagitis). I literally had to throw out every recipe I had ever enjoyed and start acting like a mad scientist in the kitchen. Since finding I don’t have to eat just rice the rest of my life, I’ve made a dedicated site with over 200 recipes that are allergy-friendly to save others from that awful feeling of “what in the world do I feed them?” I can’t wait to share some tips and recipes to help you navigate this as well! Because as I’ve found out since sharing my journey–almost everyone has a neighbor, cousin, friend or nephew that has food restrictions, and we all love to come together to eat.
There are a whole host of reasons people eat differently than mainstream. It may be for religious reasons. It may be for intolerances. It may be for ethical reasons. It may be for diagnosed medical conditions like Celiac Disease or food allergies–which can have serious complications. For example, if you use a knife to cut regular bread and then use that same knife for their gluten-free bread it can cause a reaction (also known as cross contact or cross contamination).
So, how do you keep it all straight?
Here are my five tips to pull off the ingeniously inclusive holiday soiree:
- Ask the guests before they arrive! Nothing is worse than finding out someone can’t eat what you’ve made AT the party. When getting RSVPs, ask if there are any dietary restrictions you need to be aware of, so that they’re not sprung on you, and the person being invited feels that there is an easy way to broach this topic. When planning with your guest–ask if what their comfort level is. No matter how much you might be willing to take on, some people who have the chance of serious side affects just may not feel comfortable eating public food–especially from someone who is not used to reading labels for a particular diet. For example–did you know that just milk alone can have over 20 different names on a label? The biggest take away here is that they are doing it to keep themselves safe, and not to cause hurt feelings. Be sure to not take it personal if this is the case.
- Ask if there is something store bought you can buy. Perhaps buying a certain brand of crackers, or a certain type of cookie from the store will give your guest peace of mind knowing that there was no cross contamination and that it’s a brand they trust. When doing so–always keep the packaging or box it came in, so they can read the label when they get there just in case the recipe has changed since they last bought it and they confirm it’s still truly safe.
- Drinks are often allergy-friendly. Did you know you can buy Soy Eggnog, Flax Milk Eggnog, Coconut Eggnog, Rice Milk Eggnog, or Almond Eggnog? Or, that most sodas are gluten and dairy free? Or, that apple cider can be very diet friendly? In fact, here’s a homemade version! Often times if the food can’t be safe, it still feels nice to have something in your hand to sip on, so you don’t feel like the only one not participating in the eating and drinking.
- Remember–as much as you might feel nervous to cook in a new way, your guest may feel nervous too. Most people don’t like feeling like a bother, or asking for special accommodations. Empathy can go a long way!
- If you’re not sure–ask! Asking just upfront may still leave you wondering. Once you get to the store, you may realize you’re not sure what type of flour, or if a certain oil will work–with the ease of social media and being able to get a hold of anyone instantaneously in ten different ways thanks to smart phones–don’t be embarrassed to ask follow up questions. This actually instills confidence in the person you’re cooking for and shows how much you care to get it right.
Now, what if you’ve gone through those steps and you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and try baking in a whole new way? First off–good for you! Think of it as if you’re on a Food Network competition and they’ve just taken ingredients away. It will be an adventure!
All of the recipes below are free of the typical no-no’s you’ll hear from people. These recipes are all free of: gluten, dairy, egg, peanuts and tree nuts. And remember, since I myself have zero food allergies–I remember what good food tastes like–so I make sure it’s not just enjoyable for my food allergic child–but things I actually enjoy too!
For my top 5 holiday recipes I’ve included one of all the typical things you might want: a cookie, a no-bake treat, a food craft, a drink, and a baked good.
In closing, I’d love to hear who in your life has a special diet…I know we all know someone. Comment below with their relation to you, and what diet they have. It’s always so interesting to see how eating differently can really touch all of our lives.
Here’s to helping everyone enjoy the holiday a little bit more! If you have any questions–shoot them to me either on my Facebook page, my Instagram Page. Or, follow me on Pinterest to see more recipes like this! Plus!! I have a cookbook launching in April that will have 60 dinner recipes, all free of the top-8-allergens. Pre-order your copy now!