How to cook around diet restrictions during holidays

June 28th, 2013 at 6:31

´╗┐How to cook around diet restrictions during holidays

Food can become a source of anxiety at this time of year for people with serious dietary restrictions. It can also complicate meal planning for everyone else.If you’re generally healthy, you can probably get away with a few holiday dietary indiscretions. Not so for people living with diabetes, high blood pressure, food allergies, and other diseases and conditions that require them to pay close attention to what they eat.If you are going to be feeding family or friends with special dietary needs, simple meal planning strategies can make socializing easier and more enjoyable for everybody. Try some of these:Go for the least common denominator. Adjust recipes to accommodate the most restrictive diet. It’s not as hard as it sounds.If you’re feeding someone on a sodium restriction, start by cutting out the salt.You can also buy reducedsodium ingredients such as soy sauce and canned tomato products or rinse canned beans to remove much of the added salt. Nobody needs the salt, but if people want to add it, let them use a shaker to customize their portion to their own taste.Same goes for many sweet desserts. If you’re feeding someone who has to control the amount of concentrated sugars they eat, serve foods with less added sugar.Either cut back on the amount in the recipe, or serve something that satisfies a sweet tooth without being syrupy sweet. A slice of cocoalaced angel food cake with a small scoop of ice cream or a fluted glass filled with mixed berries and a dollop of whipped cream would work.You can reduce the sugar by at least 25 percent in most cookie and quick bread recipes with little if any difference in flavor or function.Pick favorites that happen to be healthful. Instead of worrying about one person’s fat restriction, another’s salt ban, and somebody else’s issues with refined carbohydrates, serve foods that are good for whatever ails you but also taste good.I’m thinking of fourbean salad, whole grain dinner rolls, fruit salad, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli or asparagus and entrees made with plenty of vegetables and wholegrain ingredients, all made with no added sugars and with vegetable oils instead of animal fats.Use smart substitutes. Make Christmas cookies but use healthier fats such as Earth Balance or similar products that are low in saturated fat and transfatfree.Offer enough options. Food allergies and intolerances to gluten, lactose, wheat, nuts and other ingredients pose special challenges.One way to deal with diet restrictions is to make multiple choices available. That’s why buffet meals work so well during the holidays.