Our sister site, Mommyish, ran a very insightful argument in favor of vegan and vegetarian kids taking control of their own Thanksgiving meals, rather than catering strictly to their choices. And yesterday, I recommended bringing your own stuffing if you’re a meat-free eater–because being an inconvenient guest during the holiday season just isn’t polite. But doesn’t the host, too, have a responsibility? Completely ignoring your guests’ potential dietary restrictions or choices (including a desire to keep it low-fat, low-calorie, or proportionately raw) is sort of breaking the single most important rule of entertaining: be inclusive. This holiday season, show your guests that you care–by offering at least a few health- and diet-conscious dishes.
You don’t need to replace your holiday favorites with a table of carob and flax-filled fruitcake–none of your guests will be thrilled to hear that you’re saving them from themselves by giving the traditional latkes the axe. But simply offering some fresh veggies and fruit can go a long way, particularly if you have family members who are watching what they eat, even during the most weight gain-y season of the year.
Keep the green bean casserole (you know your uncle loves it), but offer fresh green beans as well. Do what you’d do for any other meal, and put out plenty of green salad, with seasonal additions like cranberries and hazelnuts. Consider incorporating some appetizers that aren’t cheese and sugar based, like fresh fruit, raw nuts, or whole-grain crackers that will give guests something wholesome to graze on.
Feel like going the extra hostess mile? Be aware of special eating requirements. If you have vegetarian or vegan family members, keep the turkey on the table, but offer something with soy or wheat gluten protein, too. And if you’ve got gluten-free folks coming over? Find a roll recipe that incorporates their concerns, too.
For many, feasting on food that they know is terrible for them is part of the celebration–but that’s just not true for everyone. The absence of fresh greens, roasted veggies, and fruit doesn’t guarantee a happy holiday. End the embargo on healthy dishes to show your guests that you love them.
Image: Bochkarev Photography / Shutterstock