Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Entertain Picky Eaters

Pick Pick PICK!  I actually find the term somewhat condescending but "picky" eaters are growing exponentially these days.  Let me start from the beginning.  When I say picky I don't mean kids that don't like broccoli, I'm actually encompassing those who cannot or will not eat certain mainstream foods because of allergies or other dietary restrictions.  Now, as a gluten-free vegan, if I'm not queen of the picky eaters I'm most certainly a member of the court.  I have a pretty extensive list of things I both can't and won't consume that seems daunting to most.  But working in restaurants I've met worse.  With the rise in dietary trends and lifestyles like the paleolithic diet, the blood type diet and the baby food diet (get real with this one kids) people have restrictions up the wazoo.  Now with food allergies also on the rise there's a bit more care to be taken.  Because of my structured food choices I'm pretty good at understanding and therefore deciphering what people can and cannot consume and working around it, but its difficult for some.   As the summer comes to a close you may be planning a farewell to pool parties extravaganza or you may be like me and in anticipation of cooler days and lovely dinner parties.  However you slice it, I'm sure you want everyone to enjoy themselves.  So here are some easy ways to combat crazy limitations that are in direct conflict with your general lifestyle when you're entertaining.

  • Send an E-vite and request to a list with any food allergies be attached to the RSVP
  • Make it potluck:  This is something my mother find's particularly repulsive but in all honesty I wish I could bring my own food to more engagements as opposed to feeling like an imposition to many.
  • Prepare food that can be presented a la carte: Things like taco and enchilada bars with each item in its respective vessel
  • Avoid the use of common allergens: Soy, peanuts or tree nuts, wheat...
  • Provide one or two secondary options: For those with wheat or milk allergies offer corn tortillas or a dairy free cheese
  • Try to include as many organic or all natural options as is affordable:  This can sometimes limit the amount of disappointed guests you may come across
  • Consult your grocer:  The vendor tends to know what he has in stock and typically is knowledgeable about products for dietary restrictions.  This is easier to do in more specialty shops like Trader Joes or Whole Foods or even your smaller, privately owned stores. 
  • After everyone has responded with their preferences send a menu confirmation:  If people know what's being served they can alert you to anything they've forgotten to mention.  
  • Use separate pans or grill space for each food type: Limiting cross contamination is super key 

Its very important to read labels as well guys.  I feel like we always forget to check out what
we're putting into our bodies and its so beneficial to know for our own health.  While it may seem like a hassle, honestly its easier than it sounds.  Before you know it, it will rapidly become second nature.  And if you follow just some of these suggestions you'll have a delightful get together.


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