Menu Ideas for Entertaining Guests With Lots of Dietary Restrictions: ideas on how to accommodate guests who are vegan, keto, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
It sounds like the beginning of a joke -a vegan, keto, dairy-free, and gluten-free person walk into a bar… At my recent Valentine’s Day party I had guests that fit all four of these categories plus a few that had no dietary restrictions which made menu planning very difficult. Since vegan and keto are almost opposites, I knew I was going to have to get a little creative. As a joke we asked Siri what to serve, and she responded nuts -pretty much the only thing everyone at the table would be able to eat, lol.
Waffle Bar Brunch
My party was for brunch, so I wanted to include breakfast foods. So here’s what I came up with -A Make Your Own Waffle Bar. There was nothing that would meet everyone’s needs so I realized I’d have to create different dishes for everyone. I liked the idea of waffles because then at least we’d all be eating the same thing, just different variations.
We made batter for regular waffles, keto waffles, and then one more that were vegan, dairy free, and gluten free all wrapped into one.
My go-to brunch dishes are usually casserole dishes, things like french toast casserole, hash brown casserole, and quiche. I love serving these because I can make them ahead, and they stay nice and warm, and don’t need to be served immediately. Since these dishes weren’t going to work, but I didn’t want to be cooking waffles at the last second and trying to keep them warm, I set up a “Make Your Own Bar”.
I set up my own waffle iron, and a borrowed one for the party -making sure to run one to an outlet in another part of the house with an extension cord so I won’t blow a fuse. The three different batters were made in the morning before guests arrived, and had them labeled for guests to help themselves too. I turned on the waffle irons a little before we sat down so they could warm up. For the first round of waffles I made some for everyone, and then after that guests helped themselves, which worked out great.
Along with the waffles, there were lots of toppings that worked for everyone’s different dietary needs. Everyone enjoyed the berries. Then there were also nuts, and coconut that everyone could have. I also had some sprinkles and chocolate chips for those who wanted. I had some maple syrup, some chocolate and strawberry sauce, and also some sugar free syrup. There were sausages and bacon for those who wanted as well. There was unsweetened whip cream and butter as well.
I also asked each guest to bring along to the party something that they could eat, that way I knew everyone had at least two options.
For drinks we had coffee and tea. I was sure to include almond milk, heavy cream, and sweetener along with the regular milk, and sugar.
I set up a juice bar with different juices as well, but was sure to include some sparkling water too.
It did take a little research on my part, but I know my guests really appreciated being accommodated. I didn’t have a keto or a vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free waffle recipe. I looked on-line and found one of each, and everyone seemed to really enjoy them. My advice would be don’t be afraid to try something new.
Also, I didn’t have all the ingredients for the recipes. It can sometimes be really expensive to invest in special ingredients, especially if you feel like you’ll never use them afterward. Here’s my tips -go to the bulk store and buy just want you need for the recipe, and for something like the almond milk that was only available in a large container that I won’t use out, send it home with the guest you bought it for.
My party was for brunch, but I did have a few other ideas for menus when entertaining guests with lots of different dietary restrictions.
-lots of greens, fresh veggies and nuts, along with cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and meats, including some vegan cheese and tofu. You could also include some breads or crackers on the side, including a vegan and gluten free option.
-you could have different sauces like tomato, and alfredo and different pastas. You could include regular pasta, but also a gluten free option, and zoodles -spiralized zucchini for a vegan and keto option. Along with the pasta and sauce options I’d include some different meats -like meatballs, grilled chicken, and sausage. For a vegan option you could have some vegan “meat” available too. I’d also have some different sautéed veggies available like onions, peppers and mushrooms. I’d have a large salad on the table, and some bread, including a gluten free bread option too. Click here to see a pasta bar I but together in the past, that could easily be updated with some other options.
-I’d include deli meats and cheeses, along with a vegan “meat” and cheese option too. Keto eaters would love to see some bacon as well. I’d also include lots of veggie options like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, sliced onions, alfalfa sprouts, pickles, and olives. For breads be sure to offer one gluten free option. And for keto guests, a low carb wrap, or large lettuce leaves to use as a wrap. Then be sure to have lots of condiment options including mustards, and mayo. A mayo made with olive oil is a great option for those eating keto.
Ice Cream Bar
-dessert can be really challenging too with this many different restrictions. You can find ice cream that is vegan, dairy-free (think rice cream), and keto friendly (look for low carb). Once you have an ice cream for everyone, add in lots of fun toppings. Chocolate syrup, a strawberry syrup, or a sugar free option would be fun. Include lots of nuts, coconut, and berries since everyone can eat those options. Candy toppings are fun too. Whip cream is great too, made with sweetener or non-sweetened for the keto people. And you could have coconut whip cream as a vegan option.
These are just a few fun ideas. Bars and Make-Your-Own are definitely the way to go for a group with needs this varied. Also don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring something they can eat as well. And if you’re really stumped there’s always take-out. Having curry and don’t know how to make a vegan one, ask at your favourite Indian restaurant and pick up a vegan one as example -sub in any dietary restriction here.
A Place For Everyone At Your Table
It is definitely challenging to meet everyones different needs, and because of that I’m sure that sometimes those with lots of dietary restrictions don’t get invited over for dinner all that often. Because we want to always try our best to include everyone, and give everyone a place at the table, I hope these ideas help. I have to say that although I have found it a little challenging and even intimating to accommodate everyone, when I’ve gone to the effort to do so the recipients are always so grateful.
Also, when I’m unsure or have a question about where to buy something that’s unusual to me, asking the person is always really well received. They’re never annoyed that I don’t know how to accommodate them, and always the opposite actually -completely grateful, blessed, and happy that I’m going out of my way to find something that will work for them.
In fact, one of my best stories about this kind of thing was when one of my girl friends was actually moved to tears by the effort that I’d made to make something really similar to what everyone else was having and still fulfilled her dietary needs. She was so used to either not being invited, or having to bring her own food to get-togethers that she wept. Hospitality is very powerful, and going the extra mile to accommodate everyone can have some amazing results. Sometimes we’re held back from including everyone because we sincerely don’t know how, so I hope my brunch and other menu ideas inspires and empowers you to invite everyone to your table.
With Menu Ideas for Entertaining Guests With Lots of Dietary Restrictions, life really is a party.