Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies
By: Stacy Wein, Librarian, Copley Health Sciences Library*
During the holidays we often get together with others for parties or large family dinners. Planning the menus and cooking can be great fun until you remember Aunt Sally has a nut allergy and John has a gluten allergy. There is sure to be someone who is vegan or diabetic. How do you prepare a delicious and safe feast for all? Don’t worry, it can still be fun to plan a menu.
Hosting a festive gathering should be welcoming to all. Some of your guests may have dietary restrictions by choice, religion or culture, lifestyle choices, or it might be a matter of life and death. Make sure your guests know you are aware some might have dietary restrictions. Since you want everyone to enjoy themselves and you want to provide a safe menu, here are some suggestions and links to online resources to assist you in creating a deliciously safe feast for all.
- Get to know your guests’ dietary restrictions. They might be able to make some suggestions or provide helpful information.
- In the menu, be sure to list the ingredients for each dish. You might want to save the labels of the purchased items for the dish for reference.
- Simplify! Keep recipes very basic. Stick to a little salt and pepper and provide other seasonings and ingredients, like nuts, to be available so guests can season their own serving.
- Remember to wash hands, cooking utensils, and surfaces often. This prevents cross-contamination. You might also prepare dishes on different days.
- And there is always the buffet or “build your own” option (like a taco bar) where people prepare their own from available options.
- If you want to know more about food allergies, you might try the FDA and MedlinePlus
- FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has some good tips for in the kitchen
- Information about food and culture are available from EthnoMed and Culture Care Connection
- Visit MedlinePlus food and nutrition page for information about a variety of diets and dietary restrictions
- Information about handling raw cookie dough is available from the CDC
*This article was modified with permission from an article written by Carolyn Martin, MLS, AHIP, Consumer Health Coordinator with University of Washington Health Sciences Library.