In the time of food allergies, sensitivities and diet frenzies, being the one to cook a meal that suits every guest can be a challenge at best. Simply having the holiday turkey and ham along with a few vegetarian dishes no longer meets the ever-increasing dietary demands. Some of us have made food choices based on personal preference, but others have medical conditions and severe reactions. Being the excellent host that you are, it also feels good to make food that you know will nourish your guests and help support each individual. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a celebration for everyone, and you want to serve up a feast that leaves your friends and loved ones happy, healthy and well.
Christmas Meat and Non-Meat Eaters
For the meat lovers, skip the ham and opt for lean turkey or roasted chicken. It may be tempting to put all your stuffing inside the bird but support your non-meat friends by leaving some aside to be baked on its own. This goes for the vegetables as well. They may taste delicious roasted in the same pan, but those who do not or cannot eat meat will not be able to enjoy these either. Whatever you prepare to cook in or along side your meat, simply leave a portion out to be prepared as a vegetarian option.
Sugar and Fat
Consider the sugar and fat levels in your food as well. Skip the fried. This goes for any dish that has fried toppings like a green bean casserole to deep frying your turkey. Your health and your gut will thank you. Sugar is the more dangerous culprit and is rapidly becoming a food substance that millions cannot tolerate. Make a hard pass for added sugars to your yams and sweet potatoes and limit the sickeningly sweet desserts to your favorite one or two depending on the size of your dinner party. This doesn’t mean there cannot be something delicious at the end of the main course. Consider roasted nuts, warm fruit salads and cutting the sugar out of holiday favorites like pumpkin or apple pie. Both are sweet enough without the sugar.
What about gluten?
Unless you prepare a traditional Italian Christmas dinner, this one should be easy to leave out. Gluten free breads and rolls are easily found in supermarkets or opt for a paleo nut and seed loaf freshly baked in your oven. Online recipes are easy and abundant! Make your stuffing with gluten free bread, vegetable broth and assorted spices. It will be equally delicious. When it comes to pie crust, find nut or gluten-free oat crusts.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Allergies get into an entirely new realm of food prep when you may have a guest that can’t eat dairy, nuts, eggs, soy or any number of other ingredients. Be sure to contact everyone who is coming over and ask about their dietary needs and those of their plus one! Dairy can be substituted easily with the large variety of dairy-free milks available. If nuts are an issue, try coconut, rice or oat milk. Eggs are also an easy substitute as you can use ground flax seed and water, applesauce, mashed bananas, soaked chia seeds and store bought vegan egg replacers. We don’t recommend whipping up a quiche with these, but for holiday baking and dinner, they will work wonders. If you need gluten-free, nut-free pie crusts or breads, consider the abundance of seeds! Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia, hemp and many more will make delicious breads and crusts.
Gut Healthy Dinner
Once you have a set of ingredients you can work with, it’s time to consider your menu. When preparing a dinner that tastes amazing and leaves your insides happy, think about a rustic table. Cook a meal that would have been found on a country table 100 years ago. Spices become your best friend as platters of roasted vegetables rough chopped, sit along with hot seed bread, oven roasted meats and warm vegetable stew. Respect your gut biome by cooking without boxes, cans and pre-made ingredients. Choose whole foods that stay as close as possible to their original taste and form.
Slip in a little extra health by adding bone broth powders to your non-vegan gravies, veggie glazes and stuffing mix. The collagen will help keep everyone’s digestive tracts happy and moving while preventing gastric discomfort. For a mocktail that heals and nourishes, mix up a pitcher with Terra Origin Healthy Gut Mint or Healthy Skin Boost in citrus or acai berry. Your guests will not only feel satisfied and well on the inside, they will also be filled with gratitude and joy for all your efforts to honor dietary restrictions and prepare a holistic meal that brings flavor and healing to Christmas.