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Guests With Special Dietary Requirements

By: Laura Farrant - Updated: 15 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Celiac Dinner Party Vegan Dinner Party

These days the dietary demands of guests can be tricky. Vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, celiac, non-dairy or just down right fussy. As the host, you are responsible for satisfying their food requests so read on and heed our advice on how to keep all your guests happy.

Vegetarian Guests

The most common dietary requirement is that of vegetarians. It is important to note that vegetarian diets differ between individuals. All vegetarians eschew meat but some may eat seafood, dairy and eggs. Conversely, some vegetarians lean more towards veganism, refusing all animal by-products including honey and butter.

How do you manage such requirements? If it is a dinner party with 20 guests and one of them is a strict vegan, prepare a separate dish for them - it will be easier to do this than making everyone attending an honorary vegan for the night. If however, out of the 20 guests, 6 or 7 are vegetarian, make a separate dish for them and perhaps consider making the parry itself vegetarian. Vegetarian dishes have come a long way. Meat substitutes such as quorn and tofu are widely available and when used with plenty of spices and vegetables, will appeal to all guests. Consider hosting a themed party. Middle eastern, Mexican and Mediterranean foods are surprisingly easy to give a vegetarian twist. Hearty soups, burritos, falafels and hummus are universally loved dishes that the meat-eaters will be willing to dip into.

Diabetic Guests

Diabetes is affecting more and more people and it can be a very serious illness that has to be managed very carefully. It is a metabolic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, the hormone that is needed to convert sugar. For a dinner party host catering for a diabetic guest can be a daunting prospect. However, there are some simple menu adaptations you can make to accommodate them successfully.

The key is to keep the menu high in fibre, low in fat and relatively low in sugar. Pulses, green vegetables and whole-grains are all low on the glycaemic index. Mix them with grilled white meat such as chicken and turkey, fish or lean meats and you will have the right balance. Desserts are normally a high-sugar affair but fresh fruits like berries, peaches and melons are all welcome and everyone will benefit, not just your diabetic guests.

Non-Diary Guests

Some of your guests may avoid dairy. For many, a sugar found in dairy products is very difficult to digest. For others they may be avoiding dairy for weight-loss reasons. Whatever reason it might be, its quite easy to accommodate such guests. Dishes like cream of spinach soup and mascarpone with cream may be off the menu but spicy dishes will be welcomed. Ask them what they would like to eat and take into account their suggestions. This is one of the easiest dietary requirements to adapt to.

Coeliac Guests

Sufferers of celiac disease need to follow a gluten-free diet. If they do not they can be in extreme discomfort and pain. As the host this might be tricky. Ask the guest what they can and cannot eat and try to be flexible. What you need to keep in mind is that all forms of wheat, rye and barley must be strictly avoided. Fresh vegetables, milk, cheese, fruits, poultry and fish are however okay although you still need to be aware that any extra ingredients may be a no-no for celiac sufferers. For example, avoid dusting the chicken with flour before cooking or marinating it in soy sauce. Keep the dishes fresh, simple and natural. Serve up a risotto, get some gluten-free lasagna sheets and make a healthy Italian dish. It's easy really. Go to your local supermarket and see what products they have to help you on your way.

As you can see, it's fairly straight-forward to accommodate guests with special dietary requirements. Try and keep in mind that as the host you should make them feel as comfortable as possible. If you make the effort to provide them with some eating options they are bound to feel grateful. Don't be afraid to ask them what they would like to eat if you get stuck. It's always better to prepare for such guests than to exclude them completely.

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Just to let you know that (being 100% lactose free) provision is not as easy as you make out. Most flavours, most chips/crisps, a lot of store-brought bread, packeted & frozen pre-processed food, margarine, processed meats (esp of the salami type), most cakes/biscuits etc that use any dairy products, most battered/crumbed food, some hot chocolate/milo drinks, some spreads and lots of other packaged foods. Dairy free is not necessarily the same as lactose free. Some can have milk products, others (like myself) cannot.
IcarusFalls - 7-Dec-11 @ 9:35 PM
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