No Wheat No Dairy No Sugar
August 19, 2009 4:37 AM   Subscribe

Help us figure out what to cook for a birthday dinner where one of the guests has several dietary restrictions.

This Saturday we are having a birthday dinner for a family friend's 60th, with 6 diners total. One of the guests attending has some dietary restrictions, and I am looking for ideas of what to serve for the main course. Here are some details of what is allowed and what isn't:

- wheat
- dairy (except hard cheeses)
- sugar (no refined, but limited fruit okay)

- meat
- vegetables
- gluten free bread etc
- hard cheeses
- nuts

We are thinking of a roast with lots of herbs and spices served with a wide variety of roast vegetables and some roast potatoes (for the other 5 diners), with some sort of sauce that isn't necessarily friendly to these restrictions. This however seems a little boring, so I am turning to the hive mind for some more creative ideas.

It is fine if part of the meal does not fit the bill as long as it is seperate from the appropriate parts and it is not crucial to the meal (i.e. a seperate sauce, potatoes / rice served seperately). Thank you in advance and let me know if you need any more information!
posted by atmosphere to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Why are potatoes off-limits to the 6th diner? They don't contain wheat, dairy or refined sugar. You can thicken gravies with corn starch (it works better than flour, IMHO), and if you shop the organic aisles of your larger grocery chains, they generally have gluten-free, sugar-free cake mixes.
posted by xingcat at 4:44 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

A someone with gluten (wheat, etc.) and casein (all dairy) intolerance, your idea sounds fine! One of the things that bothers me most about my food restrictions isn't that I'm missing out on certain foods; in fact, it's feeling like I've made a meal less interesting for others. Having one sauce for non-allergic attendees and another for the person with dietary restrictions is A-OK. Could you possibly ask the person if they have a favorite sauce they'd like with that sort of meal? I know I appreciate it when asked, since I don't expect hosts to know about all the different possibilities available.

(Are you in the UK by any chance? A friend just sent me this link: A guide to food for people with allergies in today's Guardian. They name some brands I'm assuming are UK, since I live in France and don't recognize them — the first is for curry sauces with "no alliums, added sugar, dairy, gluten, stabilisers or emulsifiers"!)
posted by fraula at 4:45 AM on August 19, 2009

You could also do some kind of Asian-inspired stir-fry - lots of veggies and meat/chicken/seafood. You could serve it over rice or rice noodles.
posted by MorningPerson at 5:07 AM on August 19, 2009

If you do a stir fry, be aware that soy sauce has wheat in it. Wheat-free tamari is what you want.
posted by runningwithscissors at 5:43 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

In these situations, I look to things that hail from food cultures that don't necessarily insist on the offending ingredients, instead of seeking substitutes (like gluten-free bread). Any of these could take a bright, green tossed salad on the side.

How about risotto? Make it with seasonal veggies and mushrooms, toss in a handful of parmigiana reggiano. You don't mention if wine is okay, but if not, use some diluted lemon juice in its place.

If you want to get fancy, you could do paella, a Spanish rice dish with lots of seafood, sausage, and veggies. It's festive, party-time presentation makes this a brilliant birthday food that says you cared enough to take some time and invest in some not-so-cheap ingredients.

How about lamb (or chicken, or...) biryani? This one's a bit trickier--you'll need to substitute something for the ghee (butter), but you could probably pull it off with a flavorful nut oil or margarine.

Traditional corn tortillas don't have gluten, and cheese does not have to be incorporated in every Mexican dish. Chiles rellenos stuffed with meat and other veggies served in a tomato sauce. Serve beans and rice on the side.

American Cajun/Creole
Red beans and rice with andouille sausage on the side!

Use this as an opportunity to play with foods you don't make every day and have fun!
posted by ViolaGrinder at 6:14 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was in a similar predicament a few months ago (one friend with Crohn's, his wife with Celiac disease, she doesn't eat fruit, and they both keep strict kosher). I made a salmon and white wine risotto that fit the bill pretty well. Because your friend can eat hard cheeses, you could do a chicken risotto,too, if you subbed out the butter that you coat the rice in with olive oil instead.
posted by honeybee413 at 6:21 AM on August 19, 2009

Have an arepa party: make the arepas and offer a variety of fillings (meat and/or chicken, salsas, avocados, beans, grilled pineapple, mashed cassava--the list is infinite!) on platters for guests to make their own combos. Combine with salad, some nice gluten free tortilla chips, and some fried plantains (these will be extraordinarily popular so make more than you think you'll need).

(This will sound very familiar to a certain mefite who ate at my house Friday night!!)
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:33 AM on August 19, 2009

Tons of delicious recipes at Gluten-Free Girl. You can easily see which ones have dairy, and either avoid or make substitutions. But she has so many great and very-assuredly gluten-free recipes that nobody will feel slighted or sick.
posted by barnone at 6:43 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm having a similar dinner party with similar dietary restrictions. I'm considering French, from the Provence region -- a stuffed vegetable appetizer, bouillabaisse for the main course, maybe salade Nicoise, and some poached pears with raspberry sauce for a dessert course. Technically the stuffed vegetables often come stuffed with bread crumbs as a binder, and bouillabaisse is served over a big slice of bread in a bowl, but I'm just swapping out the bread crumbs for something like rice, and skipping the bread in the bowl because I never liked serving soup over a slice of bread anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on August 19, 2009

I would go with food that is naturally wheat and dairy free, rather than trying to substitute with products that the other 5 diners (and the one with the restrictions, actually) might not like). There are a lot of East Asian dishes that are rice-based (no wheat) and dairy free, and some South Asian dishes that are rice and coconut milk based, no wheat or dairy.

How about a meat and vegetable stir-fry or curry (be sure to use wheat-free tamari soy sauce), served with rice. If you want an appetizer, you could do a soup, salad, or fresh spring rolls in rice paper. If a stir-fry or curry is out of your comfort zone for cooking, I think a roast sounds good - or I'd probably go with grilled salmon. You could do some roasted/grilled vegetables, a nice salad with an oil & vinegar dressing and perhaps some hard cheese grated in, roast potatoes, and rice. I doubt anyone would even notice that a meal like that didn't include wheat or much dairy.

For dessert, I'd go with something simple and avoid artificial sweeteners. Perhaps cut up fruit or berries, and two bowls of whipped cream - one unsweetened, one sweetened. You could have some cookies on hand for the non-restricted guests, if you feel comfortable doing so, and some nuts for everyone. I would be very satisfied with fruit, nuts, and whipped cream for dessert, plus an optional cookie.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:14 AM on August 19, 2009

I would be very satisfied with fruit, nuts, and whipped cream for dessert, plus an optional cookie.

Dairy is out, though, don't forget.

But hard cheese is okay....there are a number of classic fruit-and-cheese pairings, though, so maybe dessert is just a fruit and cheese tray and people can pick and choose what they want?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on August 19, 2009

Rice noodles with peanut sauce
grilled, marinated meat on a stick w/ veggies.
Fish and tomato curry
Lemon chicken (use rice flour to dredge)
In the Northern hemisphere, it's surplus vegetable time. Fresh tomatoes, eggplant, chard, green beans, etc., are abundant and fresh.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 AM on August 19, 2009

Oh, my gosh, am I invited to dinner?! Your guest has the exact dietary restrictions I do, for fructose malabsorption (FM). If that is what they have, then something to consider is that tomatoes, onions, and excessive amounts of garlic can also be problematic.

That being said - your original idea of a roast with herbs and spices sounds perfect. Perfect!! Or a roasted chicken. Veggie side dishes should be ok too - broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, eggplant, and leafy greens are all good options. Beans (even green beans) might be tricky. Potatoes are also tricky for people with FM - some of us can eat them, some of us can't.

If the guest has FM, then the perfect dessert right now would be berries from the farmers market (or other high quality source).

If your guest's restrictions are indeed due to FM and you want to MeMail me your menu before you proceed, feel free - I've been dealing with this condition a long, long time and love to provide guidance about it. And even if it's not due to FM, feel free to ping me, as the restrictions are very similar.
posted by chez shoes at 8:38 AM on August 19, 2009

If you're doing a roast and need a side, pao de queijo are delicious and gluten-free (these are the rolls served at Brazilian churrascarias). As an added bonus, you can make these ahead of time, freeze them in roll form, and just pop them into the oven 1/2 an hour before the guests arrive.
posted by cranberryskies at 10:56 AM on August 19, 2009

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