Cooking for the Family… Gluten-free, Vegan and All

dreamstime_xs_32728722From vegetarian to vegan, diabetic to gluten-free, is your family’s table one of the many Thanksgiving spreads looking to please special diet restrictions?

These diet restrictions mean you have to make changes to traditional recipes and this may present a lot of “hangups” for both the rookie holiday host and the tenured chef of the family. We can lend a helping hand.

Makeover #1: Stuffing, Gluten free

This staple is usually made with bread, which contains a protein called gluten.  People with celiac disease must avoid gluten completely; others may be sensitive to gluten and experience intestinal discomfort. Here are a few suggestions for your gluten-free diners:

Makeover #2: Macaroni and cheese, healthier version

Please vegetarians or non-turkey lovers with a creamy, delicious and healthy mac and cheese dish.

  • For an easy change to a crowd favorite, swap out the regular macaroni noodles for whole-wheat or whole-grain noodles to give your mac and cheese a fiber boost
  • Also, check out AICR’s recipe for Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. Adding pumpkin keeps the familiar creaminess without overloading on cheese
  • If you’re not into pumpkin, try a macaroni and cheese made with a cauliflower cheese sauce. You’ll get your fix of cruciferous veggies, while still enjoying a holiday favorite

Makeover #3: Dessert, low-sugar

For people with type 2 diabetes or anyone wanting to cut back on their sugar:

  • Offer a decadent cheese platter that includes a variety of roasted nuts to avoid sugar entirely
  • Roast apples with a splash of cider, cinnamon stick, orange zest and finish with toasted nuts and a dollop of mascarpone cheese. Your guests will still get the hot, cold, and crunchy effect that they would get if they were eating apple pie and ice cream sans the extra sugar

Makeover #4: Dessert, vegan

One idea to please your vegan guests is to build a pudding bar, making your own vegan chocolate/pumpkin pudding.

  • Whip cocoa powder or melted dairy-free dark chocolate with pumpkin puree
  • Mix in non-dairy milk (soy or almond) for desired consistency and add vanilla and cinnamon to taste
  • Sweeten to taste with maple syrup
  • Offer several types of sliced fruits and nuts for toppings

Hopefully these ideas will help you through the holiday season keeping everyone happy. You just might find that your new special-diet and healthy recipes are, in fact, crowd pleasers.

Happy Healthy Holiday Eating!

Tauryn Carter has a Bachelors of Science degree in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University. She is currently an AICR intern.


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