7 Tips for Being An Allergic Host

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • The Jewish holidays are this month and I'm hosting the breaking of the fast: Yom Kippur. Traditionally this meal is indeed "breakfast": bagels, lox, cream cheese -- three major no-nos for me. I'm wheat and dairy intolerant and allergic to salmon. However, my guests, many of whom will have fasted for 24 hours will want traditional fare.


    What to do?


    Because I have food allergies, I have a unique truism when I host an event: to please both my guests and myself in what I serve.


    I am dairy, soy and wheat intolerant. Dairy and wheat are a large part of this holiday so this is where I get a little creative and serve: a version for my guests and a version for me or anyone else with special needs.

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    For example, bagels, check. And gluten-free bagels, check. Danishes, yes. Gluten-free muffins and gluten-free cupcakes, yes. Then, of course, add to this that some of my guests are vegetarians or vegan; some don't eat veggies, some are Kosher and some are not even Jewish! There's a way to have a great time and get most of everyone's dietary needs met or at least make the best effort possible.


    Here are my seven easy steps to hosting an allergy-friendly party that everyone can enjoy.


    Send out a save-the-date.
    Sending out a save-the-date is a good time to collect any and all information about your guests needs. Is there any allergy that needs to be accommodated? Is someone on a special diet? Does some hate the texture of flan? Knowing this information well in advance helps with menu planning.


    If they offer to bring a dish, accept.
    As someone with food allergies many times I've offered to bring a Sloane-safe dish to a party. If someone offers, I always accept and also add that I'd be happy to make them something safe, and take any precautions necessary that they prescribe within reason.


    Keep all the food labels.
    I used to make EVERYTHING from scratch; however, these days with running my own business I just don't have the time. So I buy the best quality ingredients and pre-made goods I can afford and serve those. And I keep the labels from every box, can, bag or pouch. Keeping the labels is easy to do and offer extra comfort to anyone with questions about ingredients, calories, Kosher status, etc.


    Be careful about cross contamination.
    Speaking of precautions, as someone with food allergies, I know how important it is to keep utensils clean, dishes separated, work with the least allergenic dish first and the most allergenic dish last. It's no different when hosting guests, just more people to keep an eye out for. Please make sure when serving to keep the wheat-filled bagels on one end and the wheat-free bagels on the other, with separate serving utensils. (you can go color coded if you have that Martha gene in you) *And an extra tip, throughout the party check the utensils are with the right foods or if in doubt, start with clean ones, just for some extra assurance.


    Let your allergic guests eat first.
    Let anyone who is very allergic or has special concerns about cross contamination fill their plates early or first. This can be a great relief to them and it's easily done.


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    When possible, provide two options.
    For example, I will serve champagne and sparkling apple cider. Some of my guests don't drink alcohol, so providing two options means everyone can toast with some bubbly drinks!


    Remember, you can't please everyone.
    The old adage is true: you can't please everyone all of the time and I'd add that you shouldn't try. Make your best effort. Communicate with your guests. Keep your kitchen workspace scrupulously clean. Keep your labels. Don't cut the Challah and then start cutting the gluten-free muffins. Prepare dishes that you'd enjoy. Remember food is merely the conduit to fun not the other way around. Think of it that way and you should be golden!



    See also:

    7 Tips For Being A Great Allergic Guest


Published On: September 15, 2008