Delicious Living Blog

Cooking for special diets: hassle or blessing?

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Think cooking for special-diet eaters is a hassle? Try this: Consider it an opportunity to love people with food.

Your aunt is gluten free, your brother eats paleo, your niece is vegan ... is it enough to make you throw in the towel and order out for Thanksgiving dinner? I feel your frustration; but allow me to recast the holiday in what I hope is a new light.

Just a few short weeks ago, my hometown and county in Boulder, Colorado, emerged from what’s being called a 100-year flood. If you followed it online or on TV, you probably saw scenes of ravaged homes, stranded people, and frighteningly rough rivers coursing down our streets. But I hope you also saw our community rallying to help one another: university students sandbagging local homes, people opening spare rooms to strangers, and neighbors offering laundry service, debris hauling, and lots of warm meals.

Witnessing and living through a disaster of this magnitude is teaching me to approach Thanksgiving with an expanded sense of gratitude. I’m thankful for resilience. I’m thankful for watchful and caring neighbors. I’m thankful for gutsy emergency responders. And I’m thankful that food—something simply made (or even bought) and cheerfully given—is possibly the world’s best-understood language of kindness. When someone offers a casserole or a pot of soup to a person in duress, both people are blessed because the act highlights how food, that most fundamental of human needs, binds us together in good times and bad, elevated by the love that goes into preparing and serving and eating.

Delicious Living has always championed good, real food for pleasure and vibrant health. This month, chef Alan Roettinger’s special-diet Thanksgiving recipes focus on particular dietary needs and preferences: vegan and vegetarian, gluten free, and more. This isn’t about catering to picky eaters; it’s about honoring people for who they are or choose to be—loving them, in other words, with food. Use these new recipes to extend the sense of gathering in your own celebrations this year—and give thanks for weathering life’s storms together. 

How do you feel about hosting people with dietary restrictions? Tell your story below or on our Facebook page!

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