Food brings families and friends together. All cultures celebrate holidays and special occasions with food. That is why having food intolerances, allergies, or sensitivities can be so isolating for those who suffer from them. If you frequently host gatherings, then you may feel hesitant or nervous when inviting people who have dietary restrictions.
Although cooking for food intolerances, allergies, and food sensitivities can be difficult, it isn’t impossible. As a host, you can invite guests to bring a dish that they are able to eat as part of a potluck. This is a good idea when cooking for a crowd, such as those at a Thanksgiving gathering. Most people are happy to help, and they will feel nurtured because their dietary restrictions are being considered.
As a host, feel free to inquire about any dietary restrictions when you invite your guests. If you discover any special eating needs, it is nice to be able to provide at least one dish that people can enjoy. Be prepared to name all of the ingredients that are in a dish, so that your guests can make their own decision as to whether or not they can eat it.
Here’s a cooking cheat sheet for guests with special needs:
- Gluten-free products can be found at many supermarkets, and you can even find premade items to serve. It’s often safest to go premade or use a mix, but you can find gluten-free flour mixes if you feel like making items from scratch. For thickening sauces, try using potato starch in place of flour. Just be sure not to cross contaminate.
- For lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, and vegans, try substituting unsweetened and unflavored almond milk for baking recipes. Almond milk has the closest consistency and the mildest flavor similar to cow’s milk. To replace cream or whipped cream, coconut cream can help, or you can go for whipped toppings which use chemicals instead of food ingredients. Oils and margarine are often good substitutes for butter.
- In place of eggs, for vegans or those with allergies, you can often find egg replacements by using food items that have a similar consistency. Sometimes a combination of ingredients is your best bet, and you can find recipes that do the work for you.
Whether you are a guest or a host, the best way to overcome dietary restrictions is by asking about potential issues ahead of time. This way you have plenty of time to research, shop, and prepare. The Internet is a great place to start.