No meat? No gluten? No problem! We have all
your guests covered.
By Stacey Stein
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner,
chances are a one-size-fits all meal won’t cut it for all your guests. Whether
you have a vegetarian cousin, a gluten-intolerant aunt, or a sibling who’s cut
out carbs on the Keto diet, it’s a good bet you’ll need to accommodate some
Not to worry: with some planning and creativity,
you can pull off a Thanksgiving meal that all your guests will enjoy, while
catering to different guests’ needs. Read on for tips on how to adapt some
Thanksgiving staples, along with some innovative recipe ideas, so that all your
guests will feel included at your holiday meal.
Guest profile: Vegetarian
These days, it seems more people are ditching
meat in favour of meatless alternatives. “I think because more people are
health-conscious, they’re looking for different choices,” says registered
dietitian Shannon Crocker. “More people are interested in trying vegetarian
food choices.” Here are some options for vegetarian guests.
of vegetarian-friendly appetizers that feature some of fall’s bounty, like this
and dried cherry mascarpone dip. Warming appetizers are also popular at
this time of year, as the mercury starts to drop. Both vegetarian and
non-vegetarian guests will enjoy this hearty and wholesome lentil
and cumin soup, perfect for fall.
You’ll need to replace turkey with a plant-based protein alternative for your
vegetarian guests, and tofurkey (faux turkey) might not work for everyone. Crocker
suggests trying a protein-rich vegetarian-friendly dish like a lentil casserole,
lentil patties or roasted tofu (marinate tofu cubes in olive oil, garlic, thyme
and sage before roasting to infuse the tofu with fall flavours). Pair your main
with roasted mushroom gravy for a vegetarian take on this popular accompaniment.
fall harvest gifts us with an abundance of fresh vegetables, like brussel
sprouts, the star ingredient in this brussel
sprout gratin (Crocker recommends boosting the protein content by tossing
in some toasted walnuts or almonds). Mashed sweet potatoes, a Thanksgiving
favourite, get an interesting twist in this
recipe thanks to the addition of coconut whipped cream. These cheesy
quinoa stuffed peppers make for a more substantive side – up the protein by
adding in some chickpeas and serve as a main for your vegetarian guests.
pumpkin pie is pretty much synonymous with Thanksgiving dessert, shake things
up this year by making this tasty vegan
coconut cream pie or this custard
cream tart, which features apples and cranberries, two delicious fall
Guest profile: Gluten-free
If you’ll be hosting celiac or gluten
sensitive guests, you’ll need to steer clear of dishes that use certain grains
(wheat, rye and barley are the main ones to avoid). Accommodating a gluten-free
diet is easier than it may seem as many whole, nutrient-rich foods are
naturally gluten-free (think veggies, fruits, dairy, meat, nuts and legumes). This
leaves several options for interesting, flavourful dishes. Here are some ideas
to get you started.
butternut squash, bocconcini cheese, dried cranberries and baby arugula, this
salad incorporates diverse fall flavours and can be enjoyed by all your
guests. Another great app idea is a cheese platter – kick yours up a notch by
pairing the cheese and fruit with these savoury gluten-free
corn and jalapeno cookies, sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
turkey is naturally gluten-free (just avoid buying a pre-seasoned turkey as the
spices may contain gluten), you’ll need to get creative when it comes to the
stuffing. You can either make stuffing using gluten-free bread or you can make
an alternative version, like a wild rice stuffing. For the gravy, Crocker says
to stay away from pre-made (it likely has gluten) – instead, make your own
using cornstarch instead of flour.
grain-based side dishes is relatively easy. Opt for sides that use quinoa or
rice (both are gluten-free) or go heavy on veggie-based sides, like this cauliflower
rice dish (bonus: this also works for guests following vegetarian and Keto
diets) or this simple but flavourful green
bean dish. Both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes also work for gluten
There are plenty of delicious gluten-free dessert options, including these
pecan cottage cheese cookies that use almond flour, and this elegant goat cheese
mousse, which you can make ahead. Or you can make a fruit platter, an old
standby that works well too.
Guest profile: Keto
diet emphasizes drastically reducing carbs while consuming high amounts of fat
and protein (the reduction in carbs is said to put the body in a metabolic
state called ketosis). Typically followed by people who are interested in
weight loss, the Keto diet has become increasingly popular over the past few
years, if headlines and social media are anything to go by. If you have
Thanksgiving guests eating Keto, the focus will be on low-carb dishes (fat and
protein are fair game). Here’s how to pull it off.
Apps: It can be difficult to find
low-carb apps, which makes this warm bacon cheese dip with roasted brussel
sprouts perfect for guests
adhering to a Keto diet. Serve with endive leaves for Keto guests and warmed
pita crisps for guests who aren’t watching their carb intake. These tomato bites are another great low-carb app option –
they’re easy to whip up and can be made ahead of time.
Mains: This part is simple: high-protein
turkey fits perfectly within the Keto diet, and gravy works too.
Sides: You’ll need to avoid carb-heavy side
dishes like rice, potatoes and stuffing for your Keto guests. Some veggies,
like sweet potatoes and carrots, tend to be higher in carbs, so these are also
out. Not to worry – there are plenty of low-carb veggies that lend themselves
to an array of tasty side dishes. Cauliflower is one option that fits the bill –
it’s the main ingredient in this cauliflower risotto, which can also double as an entrée for any
vegetarian guests. Another idea is to sauté some greens (kale, spinach and
broccoli are all nutrient-rich, low-carb choices) with some butter and garlic.
Want to try something different? Pair your sautéed greens with this olive butter, which you can prepare in a few short
Dessert: Sugar is a no-go on the Keto diet,
making dessert a little bit trickier. Crocker suggests putting out a platter
with soft cheeses, strawberries and dark chocolate. Or try making these brie canapés, a tasty low-sugar alternative to a
traditional cheese platter.