How to Cook for Guests with Dietary Restrictions

How to Cook for Guests with Dietary Restrictions
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How to Cook for Guests with Dietary Restrictions

Go Gluten-Free, Naturally

Please guests with gluten allergies with this dish, while being hearty enough to serve as a main entree for vegetarian guests.

Try this recommended dish: Roasted Seasonal Root Vegetables over Quinoa with Yogurt Sauce by Cathy Elton of the blog What Would Cathy Eat.

Start with Antipasti

With its focus on legumes and vegetables, Mediterranean diets are a natural way to satisfy a variety of dietary needs with bold flavors. Chefs Carla and Christine Pallotta of Nebo Restaurant in Boston suggest starting off holiday festivities with a traditional antipasti platter.

Get more tips on how to assemble your own antipasti platter from The Savvy Kitchen.

Try a Flatbread Bar

San Diego celebrity chef Deborah Scott also recommends going Mediterranean when entertaining. Her favorite idea? A DIY flatbread bar featuring regular and gluten-free flatbreads, along with an array of seasonal toppings.

Try out blogger Kiersten Frase’s seasonal Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Flatbread.

Make a Menu of Mains

Chef Matthew Wexler has experience cooking for groups with a bevy of dietary restrictions. He advises hosts to remember that the most important thing is that sharing a meal with family and friends should be a joy.

The warm fall flavors of this gluten and dairy-free Maple Apple Pavlova by blogger Beard & Bonnet would be a perfect end to your traditional holiday meal.

Play with Textures

Terry Hope Romero, author of the book Vegan Eats World is an expert in creating vegan dishes that satisfy vegetarian folks and meat eaters alike.

Try out blogger Kitchen Treaty’s Vegetarian Caramelized Onion and Chanterelle Mushroom Stuffing, which will have all your holiday guests reaching over for seconds.

Breadcrumbs, Minus the Bread

Amie Valpone, New York City-based personal chef and nutritionist recommends blending an array of nuts in a food processor as an alternative.

Whip up a batch of Valpone’s crumb mixture to use in this recipe for Hasselback Sweet Potato Crumbles by Joanne Bruno from the blog Eats Well With Others.

Start with Vegan Soup

Chef Neal Fraser of the The Strand House restaurant in Manhattan Beach, CA, believes the easiest way to cook for people with dietary restrictions is to plan ahead and make a few dishes that fit in those parameters when you start menu planning.

This creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup by blogger Cookie and Kate would make a perfect first course.

Try Quinoa Flour in Desserts

Chef Ku Castano is used to satisfying a variety of palates. Castano, who now works for personal meal delivery company, recommends that holiday hosts use protein-rich quinoa flour.

Substitute quinoa flour in your favorite brownie recipe, or try out this version from food blog, Poor Girl Eats Well.

Secret Ingredient: Mushroom Broth

Southern food maven and cookbook author Virginia Willis, says one of her favorite tips when cooking for a crowd is to use dried mushrooms to make mushroom broth.

Prepare a couple batches of this flavorful dried mushroom broth (omitting the noodles and fish sauce) a few days in advance to use in your favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Keep it Colorful

Chef Jack Lee recommends exciting vegetarian ingredients such as black lentils, golden beets, meaty shitake mushrooms and delicate frisee lettuce.

This stunning Beluga Black Lentil Salad by the Earthy Delights Blog will capture the attention of all your guests without excluding anybody.

Layer Textures and Flavors

Brazilian cooking expert and food blogger,Cynthia Presser, loves to entertain large groups of friends and family in her home. She believes in using a variety of versatile ingredients to expand upon texture.

One of Presser’s favorite recipes for the holidays is her Vegetarian Mixed Mushroom Lasagna. Expecting guests with gluten sensitivities? Substitute gluten-free lasagna noodles!

DIY Salad Dressing

Sarah Schiear, the blogger behind is a big proponent of keeping it simple with from-scratch salad dressings and basic vinaigrettes.

Try out Sarah’s recipe for Creamy Avocado Basil Dressing, which works on a variety of mixed greens or grilled vegetables.

A Creamy (Non-Dairy!) Treat

No holiday meal is complete without dessert, but with all the time and preparation that goes into creating a large feast, you may not have enough energy (or oven space!) leftover to bake.

There are plenty of fantastic store-bought vegan Coconut Ice Cream varieties available, but if you’d like to make it from scratch, try out this easy four-ingredient version from the blog Girl Cooks World.

Serve up Some Salmon

Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist, recommends serving an alternative main course for those who may not eat (or like!) turkey or ham. A low maintenance fish dish, such as an herbed salmon, bakes quickly in the oven, providing another choice for your guests.

This elegant Baked Herbed Salmon by blogger A Taste of Koko, comes together in minutes.

Turn Veggie Scraps into Stock

Famed chef and restaurant owner Michael Mina has recently started teaching home cooks how to become more confident in the kitchen in his new daily video series One of his favorite cooking tips is to “cook vegetables in their own natural juices.”

Try out Chef Mina’s technique in this hearty Carrot Barley Risotto from the blog Culinary Adventures in the Kitchen.


Not all guests can always eat the same items you've prepared on the menu (as zesty and tasty as the options may be). Luckily, we have a few pointers in the right direction that creates an option for everyone--be it vegetarian, gluten-free, meat connoisseur--whatever your personal preference.

In fact, some of the recommendations and recipes are so good, you may need to bank on making a little extra just in case!

Check out some savory recipes above in our slideshow. Perfect for the holidays!

The Perfect Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Tasty Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes
Gluten-Free Desserts
78 Vegetarian Recipes

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