Setting your food on fire might be high on the list of dinner party fails but nothing compares to sending a guest home hungry because you made something they couldn’t eat. No one wins! With a dramatic rise in ingredient intolerance and food sensitivities over the last few years, restaurants and home cooks alike are facing dilemmas when it comes to creating a menu.
Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, and the number is rising. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the many who are changing what’s on their plate in order to feel their best. Throwing a dinner party with multiple food sensitivities in the mix can feel daunting and complicated.
With this challenge in mind, here are our four steps to hosting a successful dinner party that sends everyone home well-fed and cared for.
1.Identify all the restrictions.
Don’t guess—ask your guests what they need to avoid before you set your menu. Is it a food preference or an allergy? You want this answer unambiguous. If an individual is restricting gluten out of preference, you can have options for both gluten and gluten-free eaters to pick and choose. If one of your guests has celiac disease, for example, you will want to make sure no trace of gluten is in your kitchen area while prepping and serving for the night.
2. Search for recipes with whole foods.
Aim for a main course recipe that has multiple parts or options. Picture your guests dishing up grains, veggies, protein from meat or legumes, greens, fermented foods, and hot or cold sauces to top it off. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free? No problem. Each of these ideas could inspire your next dinner party, and all of them have options you can add or subtract.
Veggie Noodle Bowls with 5-ingredient Peanut Sauce – Vegetarian
3. Put yourself in your guest’s shoes.
Cross-check your main dish recipe with your food restriction list. Put yourself in every guest’s shoes and imagine what person A and person B might eat for dinner. Are there gaps? Go back to the drawing board, add an extra side of roasted vegetables or a second protein.
4. Fill in all the blanks.
Pick appetizers and desserts for the person with the most restrictions and build from there for the whole group. Can one of your guests only eat whole fruits and vegetables? Make a veggie-heavy appetizer and a fruit plate for dessert. Add in our Beet Hummus or Brazil Nut Pesto for dipping raw vegetables. For dessert, set out bowls of whipped coconut and heavy cream, berries, and dark chocolate bars or truffles.
Want more recipes for all kinds of eaters? Check out these warm breakfast ideas to boost your energy.