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In a pickle: How to accommodate food allergies at your dinner party

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

Accommodating food allergies

When throwing a dinner party, accommodating all of your guests' needs is crucial. And no, we're not just talking about the picky eaters of the world (we can't possibly please everyone). We're talking about those with food allergies.
Friends at dinner party

According to WebMD, only about 4 percent of people actually have a food allergy, but 15 percent believe they do. This means you have to accommodate those that have allergies and those that just say they do. If you do plan on hosting a dinner party, it's important to know your guests' diets. After all, what fun is it going to a dinner if there's nothing available for you to eat? Below are some guidelines to help you navigate the confusing land of food allergies before throwing your next dinner party.

Severe allergies

First and foremost, accommodating those with severe food allergies is a must at your dinner party. If someone is allergic to nuts, for example, you'll want to make sure to avoid cooking with nuts all together or separate the dishes containing nuts, making sure to wash everything between cooking to avoid cross-contamination.

  • If you're sending out invites, ask guests to include in the RSVP any severe allergies.
  • If you're simply inviting people via phone or text message, ask them about food allergies once they know whether or not they'll be coming.

Severe allergies are of highest importance when planning a dinner party.

Gluten-free guests

Tip: If you're not up for cooking a gluten-free menu, you can always ask guests to bring a dish with them.

It seems like just about everyone is gluten-free these days. To accommodate those who avoid gluten, either prepare a meal that's naturally gluten-free or, if you're making a pasta dish, cook gluten-free pasta in addition to regular pasta and let your guests choose whichever they'd prefer. Naturally gluten-free dinners include meats, veggies, potatoes, brown rice, salads, hummus, quinoa and lettuce wraps. Typically, meals that are naturally gluten-free are healthier than their gluten-filled counterparts, which will accommodate the dieters of the group as well!

Check out this gluten-free recipe for warm lentil salad with grilled portabella mushrooms >>

Other food allergies

Other common diet issues you might encounter include lactose intolerance or even vegetarians. Those that are lactose-free are usually easy to accommodate during dinner, since most dinner items do not contain dairy. Dessert, on the other hand, can be tricky. We recommend fresh fruit with shaved dark chocolate, angel food cake or apple pie (just make sure the crust doesn't contain any milk products). For vegetarians, make a dish that's meat-free. Most likely, everyone will still eat the meat-free dish and the vegetarian of the group will be more than thankful!

Most importantly, try not to stress out about accommodating everyone. You can always ask for help. Your guests won't mind bringing a dish or two and will be happy you're putting forth the effort to accommodate them.

More on dinner parties

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Take your dinner party from drab to fab
In a pickle: What to do if your dinner party goes bad

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