Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How to Host a Party That’s Fun and Food-Allergy Friendly

GMO
How to Host a Party That’s Fun and Food-Allergy Friendly
SolStoc / Getty Images

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 invitationand 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.

Plan Ahead

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 groupsay, peanuts or oystersyou can ask those friends for their help in making sure the menu and your kitchen are safe and stress-free. If there's a consensussay, most people are avoiding dairy these daysthen 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 homeand 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 starchesthe 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.

Related Articles Around the Web
An Edith's Checkerspot butterfly in Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. Patricia Marroquin / Moment / Getty Images

Butterflies across the U.S. West are disappearing, and now researchers say the climate crisis is largely to blame.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A wildfire burns in the Hollywood hills on July 19, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AaronP / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wisdom is seen with her chick in Feb. 2021 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Jon Brack / Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge / Flickr / CC 2.0

Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.

Read More Show Less
Wind turbines in Norway. piola66 / E+ / Getty Images

By Hui Hu

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.

Read More Show Less
Jaffa Port in Israel. theDOCK innovated the Israeli maritime space and kickstarted a boom in new technologies. Pixabay

While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.

Read More Show Less