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How to host special-diet guests for the holidays

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Vegan, paleo, gluten free, dairy free ... With more and more people following special diets these days, pleasing everyone at the holiday table can feel like a challenge. Use these hosting tips to easily and cheerfully accommodate your guests’ preferences.

For vegans and vegetarians

  • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth when making stuffing, soups, and other side dishes.
  • Prepare protein-rich side dishes that stand in for the roast or turkey. Vegetarian stews, stuffed peppers or squash, and bean and grain side dishes can be a center-of-the-plate item for vegans and vegetarians.

For dairy-free eaters

  • Use silken tofu in lieu of milk and cream in desserts and cream-based soups.
  • Olive oil and dairy-free milks are excellent alternatives to regular milk and butter for mashed potatoes. Roasted garlic makes a flavorful and creamy addition, too.
  • Most grocery stores now carry myriad delicious dairy-free ice creams and whipped toppings, making dessert easy for any guest.

For gluten-free eaters

  • Substitute rice flour or corn starch for wheat flour when making gravy and other sauces.
  • Excellent gluten-free breads are now readily available for making gluten-free stuffing; simply toast GF bread cubes in the oven until dry, and then crumble to make your favorite recipe. Several manufacturers also offer gluten-free stuffing mix. 
  • You’ll find several gluten-free pie crust options, too (both premade and mixes), but you can also set aside some pie filling to make crust-free parfaits for the gluten-free eaters.

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