How to Host a Party That’s Fun and Food-Allergy Friendly
By Melissa Massello
Whether you believe that people with restricted diets are insufferable hipsters or canaries in a coalmine, the rise in food allergies is an alert to major problems in our food chain—and the reality is that no social gathering centered on a meal can ignore the fact that people have different requirements. But just because you're hosting a dinner party or a BBQ with a bunch of friends or family members who follow different diets (by necessity or by choice) doesn't mean that you can't plan a menu that will leave everyone full, happy, and even begging for your recipes.
To paraphrase food critic Michael Pollan, we should all be eating real food, not too much, mostly plants. And never anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
What does that have to do with party planning? It's a succinct reminder that if you stick to whole ingredients, in season and grown following organic practices when possible, and offer up a clearly labeled spread (especially for the big eight food allergens), you'll have a bunch of happy guests from the entire rainbow of eating habits hoping for a return invitation—and soon. Your "normal" friends may not even notice the difference, but your food-safety-conscious ones will be making heart-eye emojis at you for days.
It's always easier to plan ahead when you know what you're dealing with, and the easiest way is to ask. Send a quick note to your guest list asking about allergies and their severity. For instance, if there's a deadly allergy in the group—say, peanuts or oysters—you can ask those friends for their help in making sure the menu and your kitchen are safe and stress-free. If there's a consensus—say, most people are avoiding dairy these days—then you can easily narrow down your menu to cheese- and milk-free recipes, try a vegan alternative, or simply put the cheese or butter on the side.
Go Old School With Printed Menus
Ask anyone who suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, and they'll tell you that all they really wish for, more than anything in the world, is clearly labeled restaurant menus listed out with each and every single ingredient used in the dish, down to the spices. Nobody wants to "be that person" and bother the server, kitchen, or host just to be able to make their eating decisions without getting sick. A pretty, printed menu is such a rare delight these days, especially at informal and intimate gatherings, and takes only a few extra minutes to pull together. Just imagine how impressed every single one of your guests will be with this surprising, thoughtful, and dressed-up gesture. For between $5 and $10, Etsy has a number of gorgeous download-and-print menu templates available to design at home—and in a flash.
Serve a Buffet With Place Cards or Pins
One of my favorite ways to delight a crowd and make sure everyone leaves full and happy is to serve up brunch or dinner in a buffet-style format, with a bar of a la carteingredients and toppings clearly labeled and positioned to prevent cross-contamination. Taco bars, baked potato bars, brunches, and other more congenial culinary staples naturally lean into being an allergy sufferer's best friend. If you have a diverse culinary crowd, everyone will be happy so long as there are both meat and vegetable proteins (like lentils or chickpeas) and both glutinous and gluten-free starches—the latter is especially important if you're serving alcohol. Everyone deserves something to soak up the booze!
Stick to Recipes That Are Naturally This-or-That
Instead of playing around with gluten-free baking or vegan substitutions if those aren't dietary roadblocks that you already plan around, stick to recipes that are naturally gluten-free or naturally dairy-free. If you have an old standby that you've made a million times, ask yourself: How easy is this to adapt? If the answer is simply swapping butter for Earth Balance or olive oil, or opting for pre-made gluten-free bread or croutons, then go for it. But don't take big risks if you're impressing guests—coconut aminos do not taste "just like" soy sauce, and cassava flour or coconut flour can take several failed attempts before serviceably passing for wheat flour in baked goods because they both soak up more moisture. Bookmark these crowd-pleasing, naturally gluten-free vegan recipes: Thai coconut green curry vegetables over jasmine rice, a classic ratatouille, watermelon or sweet corn gazpachos, and bean and quinoa chili. If you really feel like protein is lacking, put a dish of grilled chicken, beef, shrimp, sausage, etc. on the side.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.
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