How to Host the Holidays with Food Allergies
There are two sides to this and I will cover both. I have been the hostess and I have also had many successful dinner’s at others homes. Whether you are going to someone else’s home, or hosting the holidays at your house it can cause anxiety and be very stressful. It doesn’t have to be though. Here is how to host the holidays with food allergies…
If you are hosting someone with food allergies…
First of all, open communication is key! Contact the family and ask about their restrictions, what dishes they want to bring and how you can make them feel comfortable. The last thing you want as a host is for your guests to feel worried or anxious and not eat.
- Make the main dish free of allergens. This isn’t as difficult as you might think it will be. You can easily substitute the ingredient you normally use for a “safe” one. No one will even taste the difference.
- Cross contamination is real. If you have a guest with severe allergies or celiac disease you need to be very conscious of this. It is important to use safe cooking dishes and utensils. Gluten can hide in scratches in non-stick dishes, toasters and cooking utensils. My Grandma keeps a set of dishes at her house to use if she is cooking things for us. Using the aluminum disposable baking trays from the store is a great way to make sure its in a safe dish.
- Make 2 free of allergen side dishes or ask your guest to bring a dish to share.
For Thanksgiving I made our own stuffing and made a huge tray of sweet potatoes to share with everyone. Mashed potatoes and a vegetable are great options to keep everyone happy and healthy!
- Ask your guest to bring a safe dessert and their own bread if they would like to have some. This is an easy way to make sure they get everything they want to have while staying safe. Your guest will more than likely be happy to bring some of their safe food.
- Have an allergy free zone. All of the safe food will be placed here. Make sure you wipe it down and you do not allow any food that could make your guests sick in the allergy. Feel free to add a sign.
- Let the guests with the food allergies make their plate first. This ensures that there will not be a problem with cross contamination.
- Depending on the severity they might need to eat at their own table. If there is a severe nut allergy they should not be placed in the same area as any nuts. In this instance it might be best to have a nut free dinner.
Most of all, remember to have fun and ask your guests questions! We are MORE THAN HAPPY to educate and inform, in fact we are incredibly grateful for your hospitality!
If you have food allergies and are hosting in your home…
This is a very great way to keep control over your meal and your health. In the beginning of our journey I simply did not feel comfortable eating in other people’s homes. It was too risky. Having everyone at my home and cooking all of the main dishes is a lot of work, but worth it!
- Make the main dish and almost everything you plan to be eating. If someone is coming that is educated on how to cook allergen free, or has the same allergy, then ask them to bring something!
- Ask your guests to bring their own bread and ask someone to bring dessert. If there is a dish that you are making and you know everyone will complain about your “free of” version then ask someone to bring that. One big example of this is stuffing. I want my gluten and dairy free stuffing and everyone wants their poisonous stuffing, so I ask someone to bring that for everyone else.
- Have 2 separate stations. A safe station and non safe station. Keep a disposable table cloth until the glutinous area. You can simply ball it up and throw it out. I usually make my husband do this for me. Feel free to delegate this chore out to one of your glutinous guests.
- Educate anyone who is new to this. Before you get the eye rolls and butter knives contaminating your safe food, explain to them why it is so important. Having a sick host on the holidays is never fun.
No one complains anymore about it and they get used to this fast. In fact most of my guests want my gluten free and dairy free food, especially the desserts. Bread is still hard for them, but that’s ok I don’t want to share anyways!
Furthermore, remember to enjoy yourself and have fun. Because, those who are naïve simply are not educated, so don’t take it personal, and use this opportunity to inform them. I hope this helps you to enjoy your hosting and teaches you some tricks on how to host the holidays with food allergies.
In conclusion, as time goes on this becomes an easier process. Once your friends and family get the hang of things you don’t need to explain as much. Don’t be surprised if people poke fun at it. There is always someone. Sometimes it makes me mad, but I just let it roll off. You will probably learn some witty come backs.
Some of my favorite recipes for gatherings:
There are also lots of recipes in my cookbook that I love to serve for crowds. My favorites are lasagna, stew, chili, fish tacos, jambalaya and minestrone soup.
You can get lots of delicious recipes in my cookbook that are perfect for hosting! There are over 100 gluten and dairy free recipes that everyone will love!