Whether the cause for celebration is a holiday or just for the heck of it, hosting a party these days requires a bit more thought with the apparent rise of allergies. I was born with Celiac disease, my kids avoid gluten and my youngest was born with a serious milk-protein allergy. I think about our food consumption often (because I need to). When I host a dinner party, there is no exception to this. I try to be inclusive and create a meal that everyone can enjoy and love.
This is not second nature to everyone though. With a few simple tips you’ll get through it with ease. You may also receive a lot of appreciation and praise from those with allergies, just because you took the time to include and think about their needs. It will warm their hearts.
Ask your guests
If you don’t already know if your guests have allergies, ask. Growing up with Celiac, I wish people would have asked me. I was too embarrassed to call ahead and mention that I cannot eat gluten, but if someone were to ask, it would have meant a lot to me.
So, this is the hard part if you don’t already do this on a daily basis. It can be a lot to wrap your head around a gluten AND dairy free meal (as an example). To make it easy on you: most any flour can be replaced with a gluten free all purpose flour (look for one with Xanthan Gum, as it replaces the binding nature that gluten usually provides).
For dairy, you can replace butter with a vegan butter or milk with Almond / Coconut / Cashew milk. Almond milk is our staple, but we will use coconut milk when making something that we want a bit sweeter. The hardest substitute for me is cheese – still working on a good substitute there, but my son loves the Diaya brand.
For nut allergies, it is best to avoid the nuts all together. I am not as familiar with this allergy but they can be very serious.
You could also search out the specific allergy friendly recipe (gotta love Google) you are looking for, but I think substitutions work just fine so that you can still prepare your favorite meals.
Prepare the kitchen
Clean, wash and wipe everything down before preparing this meal. Cross-contamination can be serious for someone with allergies. As an example, if someone with a gluten allergy eats a piece of gluten free bread that was cut with a knife that was also used to cut gluten bread – they could get sick.
When you lay out the food you can also label each allergy friendly dish and reserve that dish it’s own utensil. This will take all of the questions away.
Serve the people with allergies first
It’s not that I just want to eat first, I promise 😉 . You are in a safe place if you can be sure that cross contamination has been avoided. This way there is a lot less chance of serving utensils being mixed from dish to dish.
Seriously, you are going to do great. Most people with allergies are not used to people thinking ahead about their dietary needs. Any little gesture will feel help them to feel welcome. If you go through the effort to ensure that there is something for them to eat, your allergy guest will forever be grateful.
I am thankful for the rise of awareness and thankful for the hosts who have taken the time to ensure that we too can eat. We have attended birthday parties, house parties, school parties and holiday meals where the hosts have thought about our needs. The experiences have been gracious and refreshing. A bonus: my kids and I were able to eat without worry.
I am also thankful that you took the time to read this, perhaps you’ll warm someone else’s heart with a worry-free meal.