How to Tweak Holiday Favorites to Become Meat-, Dairy- or Gluten-Free

Hosting family for the holidays is stressful enough without having to make separate dishes for everyone who has a dietary restriction. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a Grinch about accommodating your guests. With a few simple tweaks, you can make a meal that’s safe for every relative, no matter what they can’t eat.

Is someone a vegetarian? Lots of otherwise vegetarian dishes call for chicken broth, so sub in the vegetable version and you’re good to go. Ditto for sausage (it won’t make or break your stuffing) and bacon (no one will notice if you leave it out of the Brussels sprouts). But don’t think you need to prepare some soy turkey substitute—only the vegetarians in the group will eat it (and even that may not happen!). But if you make a hearty meatless main dish that doesn’t look like a beige football, everyone will help themselves to it.

Is someone a vegan? In your baked goods, there are a lot of things you can substitute for eggs, like ground flaxseed mixed with water or a quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce. Making pie? Swap in coconut oil in place of butter or shortening in the crust. Before you mash your potatoes, set aside a few for the vegans and blend them with vegan butter or DIY “buttermilk.” Bonus: Anything that’s vegan is also safe for people who are lactose-intolerant.

Is someone gluten-free? Stuffing is an obvious offender, but it’s easy to adapt. Just pick up a loaf of gluten-free white or sourdough bread (which you can also use to make breadcrumbs for a gratin), or whip up a batch of cornbread using a gluten-free mix. Thicken your gravy with cornstarch instead of flour, and either bake your cookies with a gluten-free flour designed to be used interchangeably for the all-purpose kind, or use a recipe that calls for almond flour.


Photo credit: rachel a. k.

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