Food is usually a major part of holiday celebrations, but anytime you get a large group of people together, you are likely to encounter a variety of dietary restrictions and preferences. Or, perhaps you’ve set a personal goal to practice healthy eating habits amid the holiday chaos, so you want to replace some less-than-healthy options at your meal table.
Fortunately, a wealth of recipes are available to accommodate these needs without you or your guests feeling deprived; and they are delicious enough that even those without dietary restrictions will be coming back for seconds.
Many people equate gluten-free with “grain-free,” but gluten is found in surprising places — even some dairy products contain additives with gluten. Read ingredient labels carefully and choose products that are labeled gluten-free.
Holiday baked goods often contain gluten, but they don’t have to! Gluten-free flour blends, which you can find in many grocery stores, allow you to cook up alternatives to many popular cookie, brownie, and cake recipes. This recipe for iced cut-out cookies is superb!
What’s a holiday meal without a good pie? This pie crust recipe can be used for both sweet and savory dishes — think pot pies, quiches, fruit pies, cream pies, and more. In most pie recipes, the crust is the only source of gluten, but be sure to check that your pie’s filling is free of gluten, as well!
Because vegetarians don’t eat meat, vegetarian recipes also cannot contain meat-derived broth or fat (such as gravy made with turkey drippings or giblets). Since many holiday meals have a meat dish as the main course, you’ll need a hearty option for your vegetarian guests. Vegetables such as eggplant and mushrooms are common alternatives to meat, as are dishes based around pasta, beans, or grains.
This recipe is full of flavor and has a lovely, festive presentation fit for a holiday table. You can make the risotto a day ahead to save time, then simply warm it and add a little extra vegetable stock to restore the creaminess before assembling the dish.
Eggplant parmesan makes a great side dish, but it’s substantial enough to be a suitable main course, as well. This is a great one for those who like to get a lot of the work done ahead of time. This recipe can be assembled one day ahead, then brought to room temperature and baked before mealtime.
Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat meat, but their dietary restrictions extend to all products derived from animals, including eggs, honey, and dairy (that means butter, too). Vegan food doesn’t need to be bland; aromatic vegetables and herbs bring a great deal of flavor.
Many vegetarian recipes can be modified for a vegan diet; for example, the baked acorn squash recipe above can be made vegan by leaving out the cheese or using a vegan cheese substitute (available at many large grocery stores).
A warm pot pie is a classic comfort food around the holidays. With plenty of herbs and spices to complement the potatoes and veggies, this dish isn’t lacking in flavor. This pot pie can be made to suit any number of guests, and can even can be portioned into individual ramekins for single-serving pot pies.
With spinach, cauliflower, and pasta all baked together, this recipe is sure to be a fast crowd favorite. This tasty pasta dish is both vegan and gluten-free — just be sure the pasta you use is rice-based, and the breadcrumbs are gluten-free (if you’re unsure, you can substitute by crumbling gluten-free crackers on top in place of breadcrumbs).
Making holiday dishes without butter, cream, milk, and cheese may seem challenging, but it can be done! As you plan your menu, remember that vegan dishes are also dairy-free by nature. If your dairy-free guests are not vegan, meat (such as bacon, sausage, or ham) can be used to add loads of flavor to a dish.
This side dish is not only dairy-free, but also vegan and gluten-free. Butternut squash is a staple around the holiday season, but it’s good for more than just flavor — it’s great for your immune system, and packed with nutrients like vitamin B6, fiber, and potassium.
Don’t like squash? Well-prepared Brussels sprouts with bacon and garlic are delicious and festive, and work equally well as an appetizer or a side dish (leave out the bacon for a vegetarian or vegan version).
Sweet potato casserole recipes often contain butter and cream, but this version uses apple butter, coconut milk, and a dairy-free butter substitute. The recipe also includes suggestions for making this dish egg-free, or completely vegan. Talk about a sweet deal.