Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanksgiving For Food Allergies

I know it's a little early, but I can not believe that Thanksgiving is 2 months away. And all this talk of food allergies suggests I should give away some of my secrets for a successful Thanksgiving meal for you and all your restricted diets friends and family.

Every year my boyfriend and I do Thanksgiving for a bunch of our, "orphan" friends. About 14-16 people in our small apt and even smaller kitchen. We cook all but the desserts ourselves. Here's the challenge:
  •  I'm allergic to wheat, milk, eggs, and chocolate.
  •  I have 2 friends lactose free.
  •  1 friend who doesn't eat pork.
  •  at least 1 vegetarian.
  •  We've had a vegan join us one year.
  • And a vegetarian friend who was on a sugar free diet.

When the email invites go out, I ask for all food restrictions. Then we work around what we can and can't do, making sure there are plenty of food choices for everyone.
 The turkey gets made without butter. Just oil.
 We make 2 kinds of stuffing (one Gluten Free, one not). The prep is the same and then divided into 2 pans with different bread.
 My boyfriend made homemade ravioli for the vegetarians, whole wheat for the Sugar Free one.
 One year, we made 3 gravies: 1 regular, 1 gluten free, 1 vegan from mushrooms (make ahead).
 He makes homemade crescent rolls, white and wheat. I eat a gluten free version.
 I made a ton of vegan veggies and salad, to make up for the uber fattening ones he makes with a ton of butter and sugar. (I like roasted veggies like brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus).

That way, you have plenty of choice, no one feels deprived, and if you want to eat healthily, you can. The guests bring desserts and by the time I'm done eating, I'm not tempted by the chocolate...I'm too full.

Some party tips:
  • If you're making a buffet table, the day before, line up the hot pads and utensils with a little post it saying each dish. Then you know where each dish will go, what utensils you need, and if you have enough room. 
  • Do prepping in stages. Our kitchen is tiny, so I make all veggies the night before, cooked to about 90%. Then at the last minute, I microwave them to heat them through, cooking the rest of the way. That way, I'm not using the oven when my boyfriend needs it and everything's hot at once. 
  • On the buffet, always put healthy items first. That way people fill up on the good stuff, and hopefully only eat a little of the more decadent food. 
  • Throughout the year, we save the take out containers so that at the end of Thanksgiving, we can give away some leftovers to our guests, and the container doesn't need to come back. Otherwise, freeze some if you have too much. Don't eat the same dishes for a week! 
  • and the biggest tip: MAKE LISTS! Make time lines for cooking and setting up. Leave room in your schedule to prepare so you're not stressed out. And always allow for extra time.

If you haven't seen my 1 minute pitch on youtube, please watch here!
share, comment, LIKE and spread the word please.
And please read the ingredients of your food. If you don't know what something is...don't eat it. 

I think it's important that someone with food allergies tells the host, in advance (for Thanksgiving, at least 2 weeks in advance) what the allergies are. No one wants to hurt someone else, or limit them, or embarrass them. So email or call them and offer to bring dishes for everyone, that you know you can safely eat. Communication is key. And education is important. So eat up! And very happy Thanksgiving. 

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