As people are becoming more aware of health issues connected to diet, they're pursuing ways of eating that vary from your standard meat-and-potatoes fare. Those dietary differences may affect how families get together for traditional holiday meals like the Thanksgiving feast, but that doesn't have to complicate things for the host.
Welcome family members with dietary considerations with ease by remembering these five tips:
- As you're extending your holiday dinner invitations, ask: "Are there any dietary considerations I need to know about?" The worst situation is to learn of a guest's restrictions only when they walk in the door. You'll avoid surprise and last-minute scrambling to find something for them to eat if you have that information as you're menu-planning.
Take it seriously
- An acquaintance of mine has a child with a serious nut allergy, yet the child's grandparents think my friend is just being overdramatic about the issue. If someone in your group has a health condition that restricts their diet — or if they've adopted a vegetarian or vegan way of eating — acknowledge their needs with grace.
Make it a potluck
- Some holiday hosts think they need to create two separate menus: one for the omnivores and one for everyone else. Instead, invite guests to contribute a favorite dish to the table — something they can enjoy. Who knows? You'll probably discover a bunch of new recipes and flavors when others help out with the cooking.
Make a side dish into a main
- A gorgeous, seasonal salad made with a foundation of whole-grain farro or barley, quinoa or lentils is hearty enough to satisfy as a main attraction on a Thanksgiving plate. Here's a quick how-to:
- Cook 2 cups of pearled farro in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. While grain is still warm, toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature. On a large baking sheet, combine 2 medium zucchini, diced; 1 large onion, diced; and 1 butternut squash, diced. Toss with olive oil and roast at 375° for 25–35 minutes. Combine the roasted vegetables with the farro; add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Finish with a handful of toasted walnuts and a shower of chopped fresh parsley.
Offer something for everyone
- At my family's Thanksgiving gathering, two of the group avoid gluten due to serious health concerns. So there are gluten-free crackers on the appetizer table, gluten-free desserts, a stuffing made from gluten-free bread, and gravy thickened with cornstarch instead of flour. And those of us who do not avoid gluten can enjoy all those things, too.
- Here's a delicious apple crumb bar that is perfect for Thanksgiving; it can be made with all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour.
Apple Crumble Bars (makes 24)
- 3 cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter or plant-based butter substitute, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten (or equivalent egg replacement)
- 4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 375°; grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the flour, sugars, bakig powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add the butter or butter substitute and use your fingers to work it into the dry ingredients, creating a clumpy mixture. Transfer about 3/4 of this mixture to the baking dish and press firmly into place. I a bowl, toss the apple slices with cornstarch. Arrange them over the crumb base. Use your fingers to squeeze the remaining crumb mixture into clumps and scatter them over the apples. Bake for 35–40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Check out these other tasty and healthy food blogs by Bryn.