Pulling together a feast for a large group can be a daunting task never mind having to create alternative options for friends and family as well. At Community Natural Foods we specialize in specialty diets so you can trust us to help you create a meal everyone will enjoy no matter their diet. Look below for the definitions of the different diets and tips on how to create a plan for your holiday meal that will have everyone sitting back in their chair, satisfied.
Dairy Free – Can be a choice or due to allergy or lactose intolerance
Definition – No products made from cow’s milk including cheese, yogurt etc. Eggs are not considered to be dairy. (There is some confusion about that because it is found in the dairy case)
Gluten Free – Can be a choice or due to allergy, intolerance or Celiac Disease
Definition – No products made from wheat, rye, barley or oats. Oats do not contain gluten but tend to be contaminated with gluten through processing. You can find “wheat free oats in Canada”
Paleo – Can be a choice or for other health reasons
Definition – The Paleolithic diet is a modern nutritional diet designed to emulate, using modern foods, the diet of wild plants and animals eaten by humans during the Paleolithic era. Proponents of the diet therefore recommend avoiding any foods that they claim were not available to humans at that time, including dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar.
Vegetarian – Can be an ecological and or ethical choice or for health reasons
Definition – the practice of abstaining from eating meat including beef, chicken, fish and other types of animal flesh. There are semi-vegetarian diets where fish and or chicken may be eaten.
Vegan – Can be an ecological and or ethical choice or for health reasons
Definition – the practice of abstaining from eating any animal flesh or by-products including dairy, eggs, gelatin or honey.
Tips for preparing a menu for someone with special diet concerns:
- Contact them directly and ask them for direction about what they can have or not have.
- Ask them for ideas of something to make.
- Let them know what else is on the menu to find out if anything you have planned works for them.
- Ask them to bring something they can have at the meal.
- Read the labels before you purchase an item. If you are not sure google the ingredients or don’t purchase it.
- You don’t need to modify your whole plan. For example, if you are making a pasta substitute regular pasta for rice pasta for a gluten free option. Pastas’ can be vegetarian or vegan by just leaving out the animal products.
- Check out the multitude of great websites and blogs for all diet categories.
- Check out your local health food store and ask the staff for ideas.
- Vegetables and salads work for everyone if all else fails!
- Respect their wishes even if it seems high maintenance. You may learn a thing or two and find some great new recipes.
By Nicole Boisvert - certified holistic nutritionist, community engagement coordinator, mom