Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Planning a Dinner Party for Severe Food Allergies, Celiac Disease, Vegetarians & Vegans

Nowadays when setting out to plan a dinner party it seems that we need to be somewhat familiar with our guests and their medical history before we can put pen to paper to plan our menu and make our grocery list. There are so many issues to be aware of when creating the menu for the guest list. It is a good idea to be aware of any food sensitivities, allergies, Celiac disease or food lifestyles like vegetarianism and veganism before planning the big event.

It's a lot, but it can be done with just a bit of extra thought and planning. My friend Karen is vegan and she plans dinner parties all of the time and is able to accommodate many food and health issues with ease. Her guests always walk away full and happy; even meat lovers. She serves vegan and vegetarian entrees and appetizers that could fool any omnivore into thinking they just ate something with meat in it. She knows her guests and is able to serve all of them.

This year I am planning a holiday party for December. I want it to be a feast where no matter what your food preference or health issue might be, you will be able to eat and drink and be merry! I am already planning the menu, taking into account all the dietary needs of each guest.

There are many ways to approach menu planning for parties with multiple food issues and lifestyles. You could cater the dinner towards the food lifestyle you have chosen and introduce your friends and family to new foods. And If you know there are people coming who have severe food allergies prepare a hearty appetizer that accommodates their needs so that there is something for them to eat. Also, a fun way to get conversations started about food and health is to make pretty cards to be placed in or next to each dish that lists all ingredients used and where the recipe comes from. This will allow your guests to choose what is right for them based on their dietary needs and without having to ask the host a million questions.

Another great way to plan a large dinner party is to ask a few of the vegetarians, vegans, meat lovers, specific food allergy sufferers from the guest list to prepare an appetizer and main dish to share at the party and ask them to make a card listing the ingredients and recipe they used.

I love all of my friends and family and I want them to know that I can take care of them as much as they have taken care of me all of these years.

If you have any great dinner party ideas or questions that you think I might be able to answer, please send them to us.

Enjoy! Have fun! Eat well aways!

Nicolle Avery


  1. I am searching for tasty appetizers that are dairy free and without any pork products.
    Even a vegetarian selection would be great.

  2. Hi MaryEllen,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. I do have a great appetizer for you to try. It's in Cooking for Food Allergies Everyday & Gourmet. We will be uploading a video and how to make it next month, but I will share the recipe with you now.

    Southwest Layered Dip
    8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese substitute, room temperature
    1/2 cup dairy-free sour cream substitute
    1 teaspoon Southwest seasoning
    1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilis, drained
    2 teaspoons minced jalapeno, seeds removed, or to taste
    1 (16-ounce) can refried beans (vegetarian)
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    1 1/2 cups bottled salsa; mild, medium or hot
    1 cup shredded dairy-free cheddar cheese substitute
    1 cup shredded dairy-free Monteray Jack cheese substitute
    Tortilla chips

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You will need 1 (9-inch) baking dish with deep sides.
    2. In a mixing bowl combine the cream cheese substitute with the sour cream substitute. Stir in the Southwest seasoning, chopped chiles and the jalapenos.
    3. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, smooth with a spatula. On top of this mixture layer in order: refried beans, green onion, red onion, salsa and both cheese substitutes.
    Place the dip in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dip is hot. Serve hot with tortilla chips.

    So easy and so good.
    Let me know what you think.


    Nicolle Avery