COOK­ING FOR A CROWD

Hol­i­day meal hosts may have sev­eral di­etary re­stric­tions to con­sider

The Boyertown Area Times - - COMMUNITY - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twit­ter

Hol­i­days meals this time of year of­ten in­volve cook­ing ap­pe­tiz­ers, side dishes and baked goods for a lot of peo­ple. It’s not un­likely that guests will have dif­fer­ent di­etary re­stric­tions to con­sider such as be­ing ve­gan, di­a­betic or gluten-free.

A dish as sim­ple as sweet pota­toes can in­clude in­gre­di­ents that many peo­ple can’t or don’t eat such as but­ter or marsh­mal­lows, said Cierra Rob­bins, Hat­field Sho­pRite reg­is­tered di­eti­tian.

She said it’s pos­si­ble some­one at the din­ner ta­ble has a dairy al­lergy, is di­a­betic or ve­gan. “All those peo­ple can’t eat that (sweet potato) dish even though it ap­pears to be okay,” Rob­bins said.

Rob­bins has di­etary re­stric­tions her­self and said she re­ally ap­pre­ci­ates when the in­di­vid­ual host­ing a din­ner finds out what those are ahead of time. She said with a lit­tle plan­ning, the host doesn’t have to end up feel­ing bad when they seat their guests and find out there’s some­one who can­not eat the foods they pre­pared.

“I would ask if any­one has any spe­cial di­etary needs ahead of time so that you can be well pre­pared as the host­ess or the host,” Rob­bins said.

An­other good way to help plan the menu is to send out recipes to in­vited guests and ask if the dishes are some­thing they would be able to en­joy. The guests may rec­om­mend swap sug­ges­tions for cer­tain in­gre­di­ents.

“It just makes ev­ery­one, I think, feel more com­fort­able and in­cluded when you can re­ally share with them what you’re ac­tu­ally putting in the food that you’re pre­par­ing,” Rob­bins said.

She said those in­vited to the din­ner or party will be so grate­ful that their diet was taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. Also plan­ning for di­etary re­stric­tions is very im­por­tant when it comes to food al­ler­gies be­cause not ask­ing a guest be­fore­hand can lead to some­one hav­ing to go to the hos­pi­tal.

Be­low are things din­ner hosts should keep in mind for guests that have the fol­low­ing re­stric­tions.

VEG­E­TAR­I­ANS

Robins said there are sev­eral sub­groups of veg­e­tar­i­ans. Some veg­e­tar­i­ans eat eggs, some eat chicken and some eat fish so it’s im­por­tant to know the spe­cific diet of each guest. Veg­etable stock can eas­ily be used to re­place chicken stock. Dishes made with meat can be re­placed with grains like quinoa or other pro­teins.

“If you ac­tu­ally chop up mush­rooms, they mimic meat and the tex­ture of meat very well,” Rob­bins said.

VE­G­ANS

“Ve­g­ans are a plant-based diet which means they don’t eat any­thing de­rived from an an­i­mal so no meat, no dairy and no eggs. Some ve­g­ans will even elim­i­nate honey from their diet be­cause honey is a byprod­uct of bees,” Rob­bins said.

Lo­ri­ann Wade owns the plant-based restau­rant Fire­fly Café in Boy­er­town along with her hus­band Michael Martinez. Wade said milk and but­ter are in a lot of tra­di­tional hol­i­day recipes in­clud­ing even veg­etable dishes. She said reg­u­lar but­ter can be sub­sti­tuted with ve­gan but­ter. Dairy milk can be re­placed with al­mond, soy or co­conut milk. There’s even a sub­sti­tute for eggs called flax eggs.

“Which is ba­si­cally just ground flaxseed and wa­ter but you can use it as a re­place­ment for eggs in a lot of baked goods,” Wade said.

GLUTEN FREE

“If some­one’s gluten free, there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween them choos­ing to be gluten free, be­ing gluten in­tol­er­ant and hav­ing celiac dis­ease,” Rob­bins said.

She said the words “gluten free” are used so much that some­times it takes away the se­ri­ous­ness of celiac dis­ease. Rob­bins said a guest with the con­di­tion can get ex­tremely sick from in­gest­ing gluten even it’s just through cross con­tam­i­na­tion such as us­ing the same knife to cut bread and onions.

“If they say they have celiac dis­ease that’s when you re­ally need to work with that guest and ask what can I do to make you com­fort­able,” Rob­bins said adding that a host may even sug­gest the per­son brings their own bread or helps pre­pare the meal.

TYPE 2 DI­A­BETES

“Di­a­betes is ob­vi­ously very preva­lent in our coun­try,” Rob­bins said.

She said hav­ing di­a­betes doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar at all but that you have to pay at­ten­tion to por­tion sizes. Hosts can it make it a lit­tle eas­ier by pro­vid­ing sugar-free baked goods such as pump­kin pie or cook­ies. When it comes to side dishes that have sugar, the recipe doesn’t need to be changed as long as the di­a­betic mon­i­tors how much they eat.

Rob­bins said Sho­pRite Su­per­mar­kets have a di­a­betic course se­ries through­out the year that can help di­a­bet­ics and their fam­ily mem­bers learn how to han­dle hol­i­day meals.

“It’s so they can go to par­ties and they can have that knowl­edge to be con­fi­dent in their choices so they’re not wor­ried about what their blood sugar may be like the next day,” she said.

HIGH BLOOD PRES­SURE

“We have a lot of peo­ple in this coun­try that have high blood pres­sure and they’re watch­ing their sodium,” Rob­bins said.

She said even peo­ple with­out high blood pres­sure are be­com­ing more aware of the amount of sodium in their food. When watch­ing the sodium amount in dishes, it’s very im­por­tant to look at food la­bels. Canned prod­ucts like beans can be rinsed prior to us­ing to de­crease the sodium.

There are also lots of sea­son­ings with no salt added.

“There are many herbs and sea­son­ings you can use to fla­vor your dishes. You don’t al­ways have to re­sort to the salt shaker,” Rob­bins said.

If you have a ve­gan guest at­tend­ing your hol­i­day meal, con­sider us­ing the fol­low­ing recipes.

FIRE­FLY VE­GAN SHROOMY GRAVY IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 large minced

15 large crem­ini or shi­take mush­rooms, sliced 4 cloves gar­lic, minced 4 cups or­ganic veg­etable broth 1 tea­spoon dried thyme 2 ta­ble­spoons nu­tri­tional yeast

2 ta­ble­spoons tamari

4 ta­ble­spoons chick­pea flour (or other gluten-free flour)

1 cup milk

Salt and pep­per, to taste Vi­dalia plain

IN­STRUC­TIONS

onion, gluten­free non-dairy

Sauté onions un­til very ten­der then add gar­lic. Sauté un­til both be­gin to brown. Add mush­rooms, stir well and con­tinue to cook un­til ten­der, mak­ing sure to stir of­ten. Add veggie broth, tamari, nu­tri­tional yeast and thyme. Add non-dairy milk/flour mix­ture (just whisk flour into milk in sep­a­rate bowl). Sim­mer for 20 min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Add salt and pep­per to taste. Blend with hand blender, leav­ing a few non-blended pieces of mush­room for tex­ture (can be blended smoothly if pre­ferred).

VE­GAN CHIK’N WILD MUSH­ROOM SOUP IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 pkg of Meal Starters Morn­ingstar Farms Chik’n Strips

3 cups fresh oys­ter mush­rooms or white mush­room, sliced

2 cups fresh shi­take mush­rooms, sliced

1 ta­ble­spoon bot­tled minced gar­lic

1 ta­ble­spoon grated gin­ger­root 2 tea­spoons veg­etable oil 3 cups veg­etable broth 2 ta­ble­spoons sake or dry sherry

½ tea­spoon coarsely ground black pep­per 2 ta­ble­spoons cold wa­ter 2 ta­ble­spoons corn­starch 1 cup cooked wild rice

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Coarsely chop Morn­ingstar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips. Cover and re­frig­er­ate un­til needed. In non­stick Dutch oven cook oys­ter mush­rooms, shi­itake mush­rooms, gar­lic and gin­ger­root in hot oil for 4 to 5 min­utes or un­til very ten­der. Stir in broth, sake and pep­per. Bring to boil­ing. Re­duce heat. Sim­mer un­cov­ered for 2 min­utes.

Mean­while, in small bowl stir to­gether cold wa­ter and corn­starch. Stir in mush­room mix­ture. Cook and stir un­til mix­ture boils and thick­ens. Re­move from heat. In food pro­ces­sor, puree about half of the mush­room mix­ture un­til nearly smooth. Re­peat with re­main­ing mush­room mix­ture. Re­turn all to saucepan. Stir in chik’n strips. Bring to boil­ing, stir­ring fre­quently. Re­duce heat. Sim­mer un­cov­ered for 2 min­utes. La­dle into soup bowls. Top each serv­ing with some of the rice.

Note: Re­move and dis­card mush­room stems be­fore slic­ing.

For more healthy liv­ing sto­ries and recipes, visit the Fit for Life web­site www.pottsmer­c­fit4l­fie.com. 1180 Ben Franklin Hwy, Dou­glassville, PA 19518 610-385-5002 • Key­stoneVilla.com

METRO CRE­ATIVE GRAPH­ICS

Let guests make sug­ges­tions that in­cor­po­rate their di­etary re­stric­tions and choices dur­ing hol­i­day meal plan­ning.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Shown are dairy, nut and soy free choco­late chips and gluten free bak­ing flour. Some of the guests at­tend­ing a hol­i­day gath­er­ing or meal may have di­etary re­stric­tions like al­ler­gies or be gluten sen­si­tive.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Dif­fer­ent col­ored sweet pep­pers in a bowl are dis­played. Veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and ve­gan­ism may be di­etary re­stric­tions that hosts of hol­i­day din­ners have to plan around.

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