From a succulent roast to plum pudding, there are some festive favourites that are Christmas Day staples. However, cooking for the holidays can become more complicated if you’re hosting guests with specific dietary requirements. Whether they’re vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, you want to make sure they have plenty of delicious options to tuck into, too.
The good news is, you don’t have to completely reinvent your Christmas menu to cater for everyone. With a few simple swaps, you can put a meat-free, dairy-free or gluten-free spin on these festive delights. Here are some crowd-pleasing Christmas dishes for every type of dietary requirement.
When catering for plant-based guests, root vegetables will be your best friend. They’re already a staple of festive cooking, and make the perfect, vegetarian alternative to roast meats. A butternut pumpkin can be stuffed with veggies, breadcrumb, feta, hazelnut and other veggies as a hearty-yet-wholesome alternative to the traditional ‘turducken.’ Many vegetarians still eat dairy-based products and eggs, so most side salads and options should be fine as long as they don’t contain meat.
If your guest is vegan or otherwise dairy-free, Christmas cooking will require a few more considerations. With meat, dairy and animal-based products off the menu, fresh produce like fruit and vegetables can take centre stage. Consider a vegan Wellington for a main dish, using a dairy-free puff pastry and sweet potatoes, mushrooms and cranberries for the stuffing. Roast potatoes with thyme make for a great side dish option (just skip the butter), while classic desserts like eggnog can be reimagined with coconut milk and cashew.
Whether your guest is gluten-sensitive or coeliac, care must be taken to avoid wheat-based ingredients. Apart from the obvious bread basket, gluten sneaks its way into many Christmas delights — from the stuffing in the roast chicken to the base of the pudding. Luckily, there are many, great gluten-free flour alternatives for cooking and baking, such as almond meal and buckwheat flour. Meanwhile, a mixture of onions, mushrooms and nuts such as pistachio make a great, gluten-free stuffing alternative.
Otherwise known as the ketogenic diet or keto, low-carb, high-fat diets are becoming increasingly popular — for both weight loss reasons and to manage the symptoms of health conditions like PCOS. Followers of this diet typically eat very low amounts of carbohydrates, moderate amounts protein (animal products) and high amounts of ‘good’ fats.
This means that while bread and starchy vegetables (including pumpkin and potato) are off the menu, meat and cheeses are encouraged! Prosciutto-wrapped turkey and creamy cauliflower salad are two keto options that are sure to wow your low-carb guests. Dessert is where things get tricky for these guests, as sugar is typically avoided (including fruit) However, almond meal, coconut-based products, cream, and lower-sugar fruits such as raspberries can be used creatively to cut the carbs.
No matter what dietary requirements you’re catering for, these plant-based, gluten-free and low-carb Christmas options will keep everyone well-fed. They’re so delicious that your cheese-loving carnivore guests won’t even notice the difference!