Shared Holiday Meal Recipes

by, Jenna Sandoe, Loon Organics team, Tastemaker in Residence  

Many of these recipes come from blogs that will have other great recipes.  So check out their websites if you would like to try other Dietary Restrictive Friendly meals.

Winter has finally set in here in Minnesota, and the holiday season is underway. Our schedules quickly fill up as we balance our normal routines with the demands of the holidays -- gift giving, holiday parties and family gatherings. Many people, including myself, love this time of year for the occasion to gather with loved ones around a shared holiday meal. The sharing of food is an essential part of holiday festivities, and is a wonderful way to express love for family and friends.

As joyful as it is to host friends and family for a holiday feast, cooking for a crowd can be daunting. This is especially true if guests have dietary restrictions and the host is unfamiliar with how to accommodate them. It can be difficult to find ways to avoid flour in holiday cookies for a gluten intolerant guest. Many folks are challenged by planning a meal without any animal products for their vegan relatives. For those who find gluten, dairy and meat indispensable to their usual way of cooking, working within restrictive diets can compound the stress of preparing a holiday feast.

Luckily, cooking for guests who may have dietary restrictions doesn't have to cause stress or anxiety. Often it is simply a matter of using a substitute to ingredients in conventional recipes. As awareness of gluten intolerance has grown, gluten-free products are relatively easy to find. What once was a province of health food stores or specialty retailers, gluten-free alternatives for breads, pasta and flour can be found in most supermarkets. Additionally, for vegan or lactose intolerant individuals, there are several dairy milk substitutes (almond milk, soy milk, etc.) available everywhere. There are also vegan specialty products which substitute for cheese or butter.

For those who prefer avoid processed foods and prepare the holiday meal from scratch, it can be helpful to lean into those dishes which rely heavily on vegetables. Not only are vegetable-based dishes nutritious, they often will fit within restrictive diets. Sometimes it is also possible to make an easy ingredient substitution to accommodate a dietary restriction without having to make a special trip to the health foods store. For example, a recipe which calls for butter and honey can be made vegan by substituting a plant-based oil (such as canola or coconut oil) for the butter, and maple syrup for the honey. There are many ways we can substitute some ingredients to accommodate restricted diets with what we already have in our pantries.

Finally, there are myriad delicious recipes which inherently meet many different kinds of dietary restrictions.  I have provided a list of healthy, crowd-pleasing recipe ideas that hold their own at any dinner party -- regardless of whether you are cooking for folks with restrictive diets or not. Happy Holidays!

Ideas for Main Dishes:

  • Vegetable Lasagna (Vegetarian): Recipe from Cookie and Kate
  • Creamy Vegan Mushroom Risotto (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from Wallflower Kitchen  
  • 1-Hour Pot Pie (Vegan): Recipe from Minimalist Baker
  • Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from Smitten Kitchen  

Ideas for Sides/Salads:

  • Make-ahead Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from Oh She Glows
  • Maple Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Hazelnuts & Rosemary (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from My Darling Vegan  
  • Vegan Mac-N-Cheese (Vegan But Gluten-Free Possible): Recipe from Cookie and Kate   
  • Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan and Gluten-Free): Recipe from Minimalist Baker  

Ideas for Dessert:

  • One-Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake (Vegan): Recipe from Minimalist Baker  
  • Almond Butter No-Bake Cookies (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from Minimalist Baker   
  • Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan & Gluten-Free): Recipe from Minimalist Baker