How to Cook and Shop for Holiday Guests with Special Diets

The holidays are a time of happy gatherings, big and small. But if you’re cooking for a big crew(and even if you’re not), chances are that someone at your table might have a specific eating style or dietary preference. How do you make sure everybody leaves the table happy?

Here’s how to cook and shop for guests with special diets — including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and paleo.

If you have gluten-free guests...

Look for products that are clearly labeled gluten free — ask a team member for a full list of products available in your store. Meet the challenge of gluten-free stuffing by replacing regular breads with store-bought gluten-free alternatives or choosing a stuffing recipe based on a gluten-free grain like rice, quinoa, cornmeal or millet.

For gravies and other sauces, try alternative thickeners like arrowroot or cornstarch instead of flour. For holiday baking, have a versatile, all-purpose gluten-free flour blend on hand for adapting everything from biscuits and muffins to cakes and cookies. And gluten-free pie crusts, both frozen and in packages as mixes, are readily available.

3 Product Picks to Try:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour

  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Baking Mixes

  • Glutino Perfect Pie Crust

If you have vegetarian guests...

A golden turkey may be the iconic holiday centerpiece, but there are many meat-free choices opens in a new tab that make intriguing alternatives. One of the easiest: A store-bought turkey substitute made from soy, grain or other plant proteins.

Substitute mushroom broth for chicken or turkey broth in gravy and stuffing, and if your recipe for an otherwise meat-free side or casserole calls for a garnish of bacon, set it in a dish on the side.

3 Product Picks to Try:

  • Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk'y

  • Gardein Holiday Roast

  • 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup

If you have vegan guests...

In addition to meat and fish, vegans avoid all animal-based products, including eggs, dairy and sometimes honey. For eggs, a store-bought egg replacer works in most baked goods, and you can replace butter with a store-bought vegan butter alternative.

For a cheese plate or a dip recipe that calls for cheese, investigate the growing number of dairy-free cheeses.

And for your final course, nondairy whipped toppings are good substitutes for classic whipped cream.

Don't forget: We'll cook so that you can feast. Shop our vegan holiday meal.

4 Product Picks to Try:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer

  • Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread

  • Kite Hill Almond Milk Cheeses

  • 366 by Whole Foods Marke Coconut Whipped Topping

If you have paleo guests...

The paleo eating style looks back to what our ancient hunter-gather ancestors would have eaten. Meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts are staples, but refined foods like sugar and many oils are not allowed, nor are grains and legumes. But not all paleo adherents agree on the same standards — ask if you’re in doubt.

Most holiday centerpieces like turkey and roasts are perfect for paleo diets, but other dishes may need adjusting. For gravy, thicken with arrowroot or a non-grain flour like coconut flour or cassava flour. Use honey, maple syrup or agave syrup in place of refined sugar. And finally, for baking, cassava (yuca) flour can be used 1:1 in place of wheat flour in many recipes.

3 Product Picks to Try:

  • Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings

  • Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour

  • Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour

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