A Holiday Dinner to Accommodate Every Guest

It can feel daunting when someone with very different food needs is showing up at your holiday table. Maybe they are vegan, or maybe they have food allergies or sensitivities that prohibit them from eating a full range of foods. There are some simple and generous ways of dealing with the situation so that everyone feels well cared for at your table.

Have the conversation with your guests well in advance to find out what they can and can’t eat. Even if they insist that they don’t want to put you to any trouble, there are ways to provide for everyone at the table without sacrificing your meal plan or making a fuss.

For most people, the centerpiece of the meal is the main dish, which is usually the meat. No surprise that this is not so for vegans and vegetarians. If you wish, you can add a protein dish to your table that is legume-based—and the non-vegetarians will also enjoy it. This lentil salad can be made a day in advance because it is served at room temperature, and it is absolutely delicious. Just make enough for everyone because it is a lovely addition to a dinner table.

Meatless Meats
Another option is to purchase a prepared meatless product for your vegetarian guests. A Torfurky has a festive quality that speaks of holiday tables. It is a blend of wheat protein and tofu that is stuffed with rice and comes with gravy. Field Roast makes some great options including their sausages and Sunflower Country-Style Katsu Cutlet which is battered, breaded, and seasoned. And, from Gardein, we carry both their Chipotle-Lime Crispy Fingers and Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes. These could make great appetizers, too.

Now, because many of these products are made with wheat protein they are definitely not gluten-free.

Vegans do not eat products that come from animals as well as not eating meat. (For many vegans this includes honey, too.) So, dairy is something you might consider avoiding in your dishes that are also vegetarian. These products are also helpful for guests with dairy allergies or intolerances.

If you are doing a cheese plate, you can include some vegan options. A delicious hummus or bean spread adds variety. There are some vegan cheeses from Miyoko’s Creamery, of Marin County, that are great additions to any cheese plate. They are made with fermented cashew cream (live cultures) and have great depth of flavor. The only trick is putting enough out so that your non-vegans don’t gobble it all up. We carry their Sun-dried Tomato Garlic (hard cheese style) and Double-Cream Garlic Herb (cream cheese style).

Butter! This is where dairy can slip into a dish in disguise—and that can cause problems for your guests (especially those with allergies). Luckily, Miyoko’s Creamery makes a cultured vegan butter that is made with organic coconut oil. Again, this stuff is rich and yummy. Nobody will have a problem with you using it. In fact, slathering some on a bowl of veggies adds another variety of flavor to your dinner table. You can also use it in sauces and in baked goods (Christmas cookies, too.)

And a good-quality olive oil is a great substitute for butter in many savory dishes.

And, speaking of sauces…this is a place where your gluten-free guests can run into trouble because the wheat is not apparent. Many of us reach for flour as a thickening agent. The tiniest bit of gluten can trigger a reaction, so we recommend using Cup 4 Cup as a substitute for all the wheat flour at the table—especially if someone is celiac.

Milk and Creamers
If you are doing coffee or tea after dinner you might want to pick up a container of Califa Farms Barista Blend Almond Milk. It holds its own in hot beverages and makes them nice and creamy. We also have a wide variety of nutmilks on our shelves for adding to dishes where milk is called for, pouring over cereal in the morning, and drinking.

Salad Dressing
Don’t forget the dressing! If you are choosing a creamy variety of dressing, offer it on the side along with a nice vinaigrette.

Desserts are notoriously filled with butter, eggs, and wheat. Perhaps the simplest idea is to pick up a dedicated dessert that is both vegan and gluten-free. Almond Glory makes a delicious gluten-free, Sweet Potato Pie with an almond flour crust. Such a simple solution.


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