Like you, I’ve had mixed emotions about celebrations with friends and family—especially around the holidays. I can’t wait to go . . . but what will I to be able to eat?!
There have been many dinner parties, holiday gatherings, and weddings where there were not many choices for me to enjoy, yet everyone else was raving about how each hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, dinner, and dessert were so fabulous. If only I could also indulge alongside them, but I know too well how I’d pay the price for days after.
So, I did my best to eat what I knew I could, and I either left hungry or ate the emergency snack stash packed in my pocketbook when no was looking. When you decide to only eat foods that are good for your personal health, it can be challenging to find something delicious and safe.
My solution: bring something I knew I could eat.
The next party I attended, I walked in prepared with a paleo cake I’d made the night before. They didn’t realize the cake I made was any different from a typical cake. Only when the last crumb had been devoured and the guests were showering me with compliments did I tell them the cake was grain and dairy free—and even then, I had to swear that I wasn’t pulling one over on them!
Without planning to though, I showed my friends that a specific diet didn’t mean eating bland food 24/7. Now, it’s something I do every time I go to an event.
The goal is simple when you bring a party dish, and it’s a win-win: You get to worry less (and go home with a full belly) and you have the chance to showcase healthy and delicious foods your friends will love.
9 holiday party recipes everyone will enjoy
Ready to avoid the stress of eating food prepared in any kitchen that isn’t yours? Me, too! Whether you’re paleo, keto, gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian, here are the recipes and cookbooks I turn to when it’s party time.
All of the sources I’m citing below are ones I turn to over and over again. Look up their blog and books for other recipes to try!
The crowd-pleasing entree: Chicken Marbella
Chicken Marbella is a family-style entree with Mediterranean flavors that was dreamed up in Manhattan’s Silver Palate restaurant. You can make it to feed dozens or just a few, and it’s a recipe that can be adapted to suit your needs. I use apple cider vinegar and coconut sugar when I make it.
Source: Simply Recipes
An exciting salad: Butternut squash salad with farro and pepitas
Salad doesn’t have to be all about the baby greens! I love that this one is super seasonal. Around this time of year, I always have a squash in my kitchen that’s ready to be sliced and diced. This recipe makes substitutions easy. Swap out the cheese for goat cheese or leave the cheese on the side, and if you’re gluten-free, switch the farro for another grain like amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice, or millet.
Source: Smitten Kitchen
An impressive appetizer: Little tomato-pesto napoleons
These little guys are perfect for parties because they’re delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature. Make them the night before and refrigerate, or bring them fresh from the oven. And because they can be made with any pesto recipe you prefer, they work for a variety of diets, including dairy free, keto, and gluten-free.
A wow-worthy snack: Honey masala-chai roasted nuts
Chai tea and lattes are the perfect counter to hot cocoa. If your biggest party fear is not having anything to nibble on, this is the perfect 30-minute DIY for you to bring along anywhere. These nuts are paleo-friendly as well as gluten-, refined sugar-, and egg-free, and can also be made without dairy.
A dependable dip: Paleo kale dip
Not sure what’s lurking in the standard spinach dip or guacamole? Whip up a bowl of this kale dip in a food processor and you’ve got grazing food in less than the time it takes you to get ready for a party. It’s perfect with veggies, corn or grain-free tortilla chips, or any other dipper you’re a fan of.
A cookie-swap success story: S’mores cookies
Forget about chocolate chippers and gingerbread basics. These cookies are ones that won’t be accidentally twinning with another party-goer. Plus, they’re gluten-, grain-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free in addition to being paleo.
A make-ahead appetizer: Sweet ‘n’ sour meatballs
Just don’t have time? These are perfect for those days when parties come at the end of very long work-weeks. You can toss them in a slow cooker or make ‘em ahead, freeze, and defrost day-of which is very easy. And they’re gluten-, grain-, nut-, dairy-, soy-, and egg-free.
A next-level side: Latke waffles
You can turn just about anything starchy into a waffle, but this is one of my favorite holiday twists. Make ‘em the classic way with russet potatoes or swap out your starch for something that’s diet-friendly to you. Reheat in an oven at the party or serve room-temperature alongside an entree or with a spread. Applesauce is a classic choice!
Source: Simone Miller of Zenbelly.com
A knock-out dessert: Pear clafoutis
This is one of those desserts that’s almo
st too pretty to eat. The layered pears (or apples or peaches—whatever looks good at the market) top a custardy, cake-like treat that smells and tastes just as good as it looks. Be sure to scroll through the comments for recommended ingredient substitutions.
Source: Elana’s Pantry
Make this holiday season—and the coming new year—your best one yet
I know what it feels like to stress your way through happy hours, birthday parties, and family dinners—trust me, I get that it’s not a December-centric problem!
But 2018 doesn’t have to be a year defined by struggle.
I work one-on-one with people who are having trouble figuring out why it is that they don’t feel well and what they can do now to start feeling better and healthier. From testing to nutrition consulting to personalized protocols, I can help you get back to living the life you love.
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