How to make the dietary issues of guests easy to cater for
December 12, 2017
Have you felt that sense of dread, confusion or momentary panic when one of the people invited to an event you are catering for announces dietary requirements?
Hopefully this doesn’t happen right before you begin serving! It is a good idea to contact any new guests to see if there are any dietary requirements you need to be aware of.
I used to get that sinking feeling when vegetarian friends were visiting, now that seems very easy! I don’t feel dread now but I do witness it when I outline the dietary requirements I have to comply with on my SIBO diet, or my son’s intolerance to egg, dairy and gluten. I see the panic hit and the eyes of the person begin to dart around the room while they try to work out what the heck they can make for us to eat when the traditional entertaining favourites that are pastry or cream based are off the cards.
1. Get specific and write it down if you are not used to dealing with dietary needs.
Ask for a description of the exact requirements. What are the food issues that cause a problem and what is the degree of the problem. Eg: is there an intolerance, an allergy or a disorder? Is the response to these foods life threatening? Or is it a severe or mild discomfort?
This is important in the instance medical assistance is required during a holiday period.
Some people can eat egg white but not yolk, some can eat cooked egg, but not raw. Many people with gluten intolerance can eat other flours such as buckwheat, coconut, rice or millet flour. Ask for specifics and what they CAN eat.
Ask if their food needs to be prepared separately to avoid cross-contamination from food they are not going to eat but that may contain the high risk ingredients.
Find out the specific details so you can be prepared and everyone enjoys the day.
2. Ask for alternatives and preferences
If you are stuck for ideas ask the person what they like to eat and for them to share some of the strategies they use when they eat out – eg: dressing on the side only, no marinates on the meat, or sauces.
The person will have developed ways to help them eat out safely. For me it is easiest to have a plain piece of protein or seafood, cooked in olive oil or coconut oil and a salad with no dressing, or with olive oil and lemon juice.
If the person is unable to eat garlic, they may use celery as an alternate to create a flavour base in meals. Maybe kidney beans and chick peas are off limits but cannelloni beans are ok.
If you are not used to sourcing the ingredients you will need to cater for them ask if they are readily available, or if a specialty store is needed to find them.
If you are completely modifying the menu to cater for the person or people impacted allow yourself time have a practice run if possible. Cooking with ingredients you have not used before can take some trial and error. It may be easier to make the menu you had planned and a modified version for the guest with dietary requirements. I have added some recipe inspiration below.
Butter –> Nuttalex, coconut or olive oil
Milk –> Almond, soy, coconut milk
Ice cream –> sorbet, non dairy alternative such as coconut, soy or almond ice cream
Egg –> Egg replacer, mashed banana, mashed cooked apple or pumpkin
Soy Sauce –> Tamari is a Gluten free option. Coconut Aminos is a Soy free option and low sugar
Biscuits (for dips and cheese) –> rice crackers unflavoured, vegetable sticks
Garlic and onion —> celery, spring onion, chives
Chocolate –> cocao, carob
3. Stick to non processed, non packaged foods.
This means using herbs and spices for flavour – eg: ginger, turmeric, basil, mint, fresh vegetables, fruits, olive oil, honey, lemon juice and non marinated, non processed and non coated meats and seafood (unless vegan or vegetarian)
The following foods commonly contain allergens. Do follow tip 1 before serving foods that are, or contain these ingredients:
Free IBS e-book
If IBS is the dietary problem of your guest grab a copy of this free e-book for recipe inspiration by Nutritionist and IBS specialist Glenda Bishop. Get a copy here.
Healthy kebabs ditch the yogurt for dairy free
Sides, Salads and nibbles
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