Please help me feed my guests with special dietary snowflakes
September 27, 2017 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I am having a small dinner party tomorrow evening and have just learned about one guest's severe dietary restrictions.

I am entertaining a married couple to thank them for an evening out. From the spouse of the person with dietary restrictions: He cannot have any fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, many cooked vegetables, no grains, no fiber, no fat. In general, he can eat things that are similar to baby food. If it is something we think as being healthy, then he probably can’t have it. He can have mashed potatoes, white rice, bananas, milk, pudding, and some other things.

Generally for first-time guests in Autumn, I roast a chicken a la Mark Bittman, make spicy roasted sweet potatoes, some kind of cornbread and a seasonal vegetable. Generally no dessert or wine.

Please give me some suggestions to incorporate what the person with a restricted diet can eat, at the same time not decimating my usual menu. I have lots of time tomorrow; do not have to anything quickly. I want my guests to be comfortable and happy

Spouse of person with restrictions says, do not cook around his restrictions. He is not supposed to eat a big meal any way and has never been a big eater. This has only come up in the last couple of weeks and we’re still trying to figure it all out.

This is my first ask and I have always liked your responses to cooking or dietary questions and I have added several new dishes into the rotation.

Thank you in advance!
posted by RaeVaughn1958 to Food & Drink (45 answers total)
Wow.. that is quite a list of restrictions. It sounds like the chicken is ok. The sweet potatoes may be okay, but I would make a low-fat mashed potato or plain baked potato to go alongside his chicken, whilst still making the rest of the dishes for the rest of you. Without knowing which vegetables he actually can have, you are kind of at a loss there.

You regular menu sounds delicious, though!
posted by sarajane at 12:08 PM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

I think that you can trust your friend that you do not need to cook around him. Without more knowledge about his actual condition and the restrictions, it sounds tough.

That said, based on what you've written, my instinct would be Indian food. Cook any dish you like, just make 2x as much white rice so that he has something to eat. You could also do something like banana lassi with no-fat yogurt as part of the meal.

Alternately, I'd just go ahead and make the chicken, with a side of mashed potatoes. So long as your guest can participate in the meal, I'm sure he'll be fine.
posted by veery at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Those are some awfully unusual dietary restrictions, and I'm not clear if these are restrictions as in allergies or sensitivities, or if the person is just an ultra-picky eater. I'm assuming the latter. So since the person's spouse says "do not cook around his restrictions," you should take them at their word. Can you make what you would usually make, except substitute regular mashed potatoes for the roasted sweet potatoes? That would probably be a good way of serving what you would usually serve but also providing something that he can eat.
posted by holborne at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2017 [15 favorites]

Generally stick with your plan and do what she asks you to do.

The quotes don't mention protein and she's says he can't eat most vegetables. So I'd thank her for the heads up and ask if there are any proteins he can have and ask to specify what vegetables he is able to eat. Mash and veg? Ask how she makes mash that works because mine would normally include dairy and fat.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

Wow, this one's tough.

Mash the sweet potato, omitting the spice. Maybe set whatever spice you were going to use on the table along with salt and pepper shakers for the others to season theirs. Mashed sweet potatoes don't need the cream and butter that regular mashed potatoes do, so that might work for you.

Puree the seasonal vegetable (checking with the spouse to make sure it's one he can have).

Make a side of rice instead of the cornbread. Ask if you can add flavoring to it (e.g., coconut).

This is the time of year when apples are in season. Find some fresh apples, maybe from a farmstead, and make applesauce. It's very easy to do - you just peel and cut up the apples, then stick them in a pot for a few hours. Homemade applesauce is quite delicious, too.

Not judging, just curious, but are these restrictions due to your guest's lack of teeth?
posted by kevinbelt at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2017

I'd make mashed potatoes with milk and let him pick around the rest of your planned menu (maybe some of the skinless chicken breast from your chicken). It sounds like he's not eating much anyway? I'd also make it clear that if he does want to bring something that's appealing to him and within his restrictions, that it's welcome at your table.
posted by quince at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

For the record, I have seen similar dietary restrictions in the case of someone recovering from perforated intestines. Nothing to do with picky eating or lack of teeth. Food just needed to be super-easily digested because the gut was still so fragile.

I’d ask for more specifics, and be ready to just go with white rice or mashed potatoes as a side dish. You could simply make those in addition to your usual meal.
posted by snowmentality at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2017 [20 favorites]

I have really severe food allergies and it's always best when people adhere to what I tell them I can and can't eat. When people innovate and get creative it's much more likely they'll unintentionally make something I can't eat.

I don't feel any awkwardness about eating a small portion, eating only one item while other people have a variety, or having a nice big cup of tea and a protein bar from my purse while everyone else has a meal, and I bet your guest feels similarly relaxed.

Based on what he can eat and what your menu is, I would mash all or part of the sweet potatoes and also make regular mashed potatoes. Ask your friend for her mashed potato suggestions, because some recipes have quite a bit of butter and cream, and her list says no fat.
posted by kate blank at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Given the severity of the restrictions, maybe ask them to suggest a recipe, or ask them to bring something for him to eat? Then cook normally for everyone else.
posted by richb at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have a relative with similar restrictions. It's hard to improvise in a useful way, and it's best to stick to what they've told you will work, or check things out with them in advance. And definitely yeah, tell them if they need to bring something instead it's fine.

Some possibilities -

It seems like mashed potatoes are a sure winner, so I'd do those. You want to avoid adding fats. My relative does well with processed-food versions of stuff, so e.g. rehydrated mashed potatoes from a pouch - it would be easy to make just a small batch of this alongside your normal menu if you don't want to make a full batch.

Soup should be good - squash soup (don't add extra fats), French onion, miso with silken tofu chunks?

Smooth cranberry sauce from a can

Dessert - maybe consider adding this course, lots of room for something nice here: pumpkin pie, key lime pie, flan, banana pudding, rice pudding, jello in fanciful shapes
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, there are many GI diseases or disorders that might have those restrictions, so I would assume they are strictly medical at this point. With such drastic and specific dietary restrictions, I would definitely make your menu as planned and then just have a couple things on hand. Personally, I would make some white rice (easy enough) and some mashed potatoes (from one potato) made with a bit of salt and skim milk. I always make dessert, so if you felt inclined I would make a pudding or smooth ice cream, something everyone could have.
posted by LKWorking at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2017 [11 favorites]

I would also try not to improvise. White rice (you can buy pretty good microwaveable frozen rice), a banana, pudding (you could buy pre-made pudding cups).
posted by radioamy at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2017

lol, don't even try. His spouse told you that for a reason and I think she's going to be mortified and not enjoy the meal if you try to make everything conform to his list.

Make your normal meal, and add a dish of plain mashed potatoes or rice to the table. If you feel like experimenting, try making a rice pudding for dessert. It would be kind to have bananas in the fruit bowl so he can grab one if he wants.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2017 [29 favorites]

I would do exactly as the spouse asked.

In fact, given the seriousness of this situation, I would ask the spouse - with apologies, though of course there's no reason for them to take offense - to please bring along something he can have. I just absolutely would not dare make anything but maybe rice or a microwaved potato - you don't even know if he can have skim milk in his mashed potatoes, or chicken broth, or salt.

Feed the rest of the guests your planned menu. Don't make him or his spouse feel bad over customizations you've made trying to accommodate someone who is just going to end up put on the spot and maybe eat something that makes them ill.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Applesauce comes to mind. It really is easy to make and tremendously better when homemade. I like to use Braeburn apples because they're the right combination of sour and sweet with a texture that makes them good for cooking. Make the sweet potatoes into crunchy sweet potato latkes, serve with applesauce and sour cream for dipping for the rest of the guests.

Honestly though follow her guidance and don't go nuts about the menu. Maybe focus on the other aspects of a dinner party, like get some really beautiful flowers for the table, make sure the chairs are comfy, and that you have many things other than the food or his medical challenges to talk about. It sounds like he probably has been very stressed by this recently and could use a relaxing and distracting evening.
posted by Mizu at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

This sounds like a FODMAP-restricting or other GI-issue diet, in which case both sweet potatoes and apples would be out. I second the idea of just inviting the spouse to bring whatever is safe to eat. You don't want to in any way pressure them to eat something, and cause them to be ill later. Mashed potatoes are usually fine under this diet, but every person is a little different, and sometimes if you eat something repeatedly, even if it's a "good" food, it can start to cause an issue. If they're still in the 'figuring things out' stage, best to let them manage it.
posted by backwards compatible at 1:21 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I understand you want to keep your usual menu as much as possible, but it's really not adjustable for this. It's not clear whether the chicken will work, so you would have to ask. We think of chicken as "protein," but it actually has quite a bit of fat, even without the skin. ("No fat" is impossible - even plain white rice has some fat in it. Plain broccoli has fat in it.) Even if you changed the sweet potatoes to mashed white potatoes, you would probably want to put butter and milk in them - and he won't be able to eat them that way. I make mashed potatoes with almond milk and no butter all the time, and they are fine for me, but I would be really reluctant to serve them to company.

So maybe make your usual menu and then cook a small amount of plain white rice for him and have bananas available. If you are going to cook anything else for him at all, check all the ingredients with the spouse.
posted by FencingGal at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2017

This has only come up in the last couple of weeks and we’re still trying to figure it all out.

Yet another reason to listen to the spouse!
posted by Room 641-A at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

One more idea. I know that for me, when I'm on a restricted diet, social dinners are not a treat at all. Quite the opposite. Since the purpose of this evening is to do something nice for them, I wonder whether you might suggest something else to treat them to rather than dinner. A movie? A comedy club? Art show? Is cirque du soleil in town? They might be relieved if you suggest it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:21 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Do not cook for him, as per her request. Given the list, I'm betting this is medical. Cook your planned meal and don't act weird when he doesn't eat any of it. If you absolutely must cook for him, get some bananas (make sure they're ripe in case he has to mash them) and cook some plain white rice.

It is so excruciatingly uncomfortable to have to turn down food someone has made "special" for you because despite all their best efforts, it will still make you sick.

It would also be polite to tell the spouse to feel free to bring whatever he is comfortable eating. Give him a plate or a bowl to put it in and enjoy your meal together.
posted by purple_bird at 3:22 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd make the very best mashed potatoes, possibly with milk, you can and have some amazing banana pudding (no toppings) for dessert. Clear all the ingredients with the wife, including butter and anything added to the pudding (vanilla, salt, thickener).

Maybe get fresh (but not too interesting, e.g. not blue) potatoes from the farmer's market, assume you will have to remove the peels, and ask the best way to cook them. Even cooked to death, a fresh farmers' market potato is going to be nicer than, I dunno, reconstituted flakes.

Ask about seasonings; sometimes a yellowy buttered mashed potato might be nice with pepper or paprika on top, but that's probably not OK here -- but if it is, it would be delightful.

Then, use these two dishes as sides to something else you make for everyone else.


However: for this couple, maybe an afternoon tea and chat, or a game, or just dessert (banana pudding), would be better than inviting them for dinner. It sounds like dinner right now is fraught for them, and there are plenty of nice things to do with people that don't involve food.
posted by amtho at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

This sounds almost exactly like the diet that I am not trying to manage. It sounds as if, like me, he was given this confusing bland and awful diet from a GI doctor. There's a few diffierent disorders that can lead to a diet like this but the most common ones are I S and gastroperesis. Both are incredibly uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing. It's not a fad diet or pickiness in any way. I don't think anyone would ever choose a diet that is best described as "baby food." Lately I've been crying at the idea of going grocery shopping because all of the choices are terrible.

I echo the above suggestions of alternative things you can do for the couple. I know for me, I'm horribly embarrassed and upset trying to do the social niceties of eating with friends when I really can't have a dish but really do want to eat it. All of my favorite foods are off limits. Mashed potatoes have enough fats to keep me up in the bathroom for hours. My girlfriend made me a lovely dinner that I didn't have the heart to tell her I couldn't eat and I stayed up half the night puking. So eating is actually stressful right now. I'd imagine it's the same for them, too.

You could certainly offer up and alternative and say "it's really no trouble at all to have you over for dinner, but it sounds like it might be more of a hassle for you than a chance to relax. Why don't we do __ instead?"
I'd prepare for the usual polite dance of "oh it's no bother" "please I insist" and so forth, but I bet they would appreciate the consideration.
posted by shesaysgo at 4:47 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

"I know that for me, when I'm on a restricted diet, social dinners are not a treat at all."

I don't have any dietary restrictions, and I still agree with this. I'm just a picky eater, and if I'm going to someone's house to eat, I plan ahead to find a fast food restaurant nearby. I don't always have to use it, but I always prepare. One time my wife and I had lunch at her favorite HS teacher's house, and they served tuna salad and iced tea. I struggled to even put the food in my mouth.

And also, FWIW, I probably wouldn't care for your menu. I don't like sweet potatoes or cornbread, and I'm picky about vegetable prep. So even without food allergies, I'd still hit up McDonalds after your dinner. Another vote for doing something else instead.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:00 PM on September 27, 2017

Honestly I think if you're having a dinner party and one of the guests happens to have restrictions or is fasting for a blood test or whatever, it's not on you to cancel your dinner party. They could decline or cancel, if it's that traumatic. But the spouse might very well like to eat some nice food in a social setting, and the affected guest might very well enjoy the company of people even though food's not a huge great thing in their life.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:10 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

How about risotto with no vegetables, just arborio rice, chicken stock added 1/4 cup at a time and lots of stirring with the chicken?
posted by theora55 at 6:51 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pureed frozen banana (no other ingredients) makes a delightful and easy ice cream. Your guest could definitely eat it, and it would take very little effort to add to your menu.

I think the suggestions to add white rice to the menu are sound. You could always set aside a plain portion for this guest and use the rest in a more interesting dish.
posted by timeo danaos at 6:53 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, please listen to the spouse! I have Crohn’s and often need to eat a restricted diet to feel okay. I don’t want to give anyone a list of forbidden ingredients (which include, like, wheat, garlic, and apples, as a small sampling of the bizarre and annoying categories of foods I try to avoid as much as possible and totally when I’m feeling sick.) I would actually be kind of annoyed if someone made me something to eat that they thought conformed to my diet, because I would feel obligated to eat some of it and might be paying for it days later.
posted by Automocar at 7:20 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think these things can be so fussy, and medical stuff can be so fragile--you don't even know if something will have changed in what he's supposed to be eating by tomorrow. If the current restrictions say "no fat", I would not, no, assume that chicken should be fine. Notice that there is zero meat on the existing list, and there's no such thing as a completely nonfat chicken. I would assume that anything not explicitly stated as fine is not fine, and that either he should be bringing his own food or eating beforehand/after in order to ensure that things are safe, although that you could at least arrange to have bananas, milk, white rice there if he's inclined. But if he's having digestive trouble, he may not be even interested in eating.

What I would do is try to come up with some things that aren't edible to be focal points so that the dinner doesn't become entirely about how he can't eat. Don't linger at the table; have things set up nicely somewhere else to head after eating to play cards or a board game or do something else pleasant. You might ask the spouse for a suggestion of something in the way of a small gift he'd appreciate since he can't appreciate your cooking this time--if you've got time for shopping, maybe you also have time to pick him up a nice pair of socks or something else that says "fall" in a completely inedible way? I had someone give me socks once to cheer me up and it's stuck with me as a nice small thing to do for a person. And nobody ever has enough socks.
posted by Sequence at 8:30 PM on September 27, 2017

The things on the list are mostly easy to prepare. I'd probably check with the spouse and then just boil and mash a russet potato for the guy and have some pudding cups in the fridge for him. I would suppose he is doing this for his health, not his enjoyment and mostly just wants to not get sick as a dog while still being out in company.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:24 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm on a vdry low carb diet. If I'm going somewhere where I might not have suitable food I eat beforehand and grab a few small bites of what I'm comfortable eating.

Your guest, with more severe restrictions than I, may do something similar.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:37 PM on September 27, 2017

I think the spouse was just giving you a heads up that her partner most likely won't be eating the food you prepare, especially since they asked you not to cook around it. It sounds like they're dealing with a tricky medical situation, still want to come to the dinner, but don't want any awkwardness.

I'd respect their wishes, keep the dinner on (maybe prepare some very plain mashed white potatoes just in case?) and don't make a big deal out of it. It seems like some of the misery of social dinners when one person is very severely restricted in their diet comes from pressure to eat foods you can't, or awkward attempts to cook around the restricted person's limitations. You can probably avoid that by just not mentioning it and focusing on the conversation.
posted by nerdfish at 11:22 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have friends with a variety of different "food quirks", and I like to cook for people. What I do in cases like this is to go self-serve buffet-style, where everyone serves themselves what they can eat, and then just make sure I have a variety of things on hand sufficient that everyone can have at least two things.

In the case of a smaller dinner party, I'd simply add a couple other "side dishes", in big enough batches that it doesn't look like "I've made this for you special", but enough that the guest can make themselves a full-ish looking plate nevertheless.

For example: say you were thinking of your roast chicken, but then you were just going to throw some root vegetables in the pan along with it and have a salad and that's how you round the meal out. You can stick to that, but then do up a big pan of plain mashed potatoes and some plain steamed rice, and then add a cream-of-something soup he would be able to have (check with them). For dessert, there are a lot of cream- and milk-based puddings that still are fancy (if gelatin or eggs are okay, then you're golden - creme brulee and panna cotta aren't bad).

Actually, if eggs, cheese, and milk are okay, that also means souffle is an option. I know souffle's have a rep for being difficult, but they're seriously not - they're a bit fussy in terms of you not being able to peek into the oven while they're cooking, and they only look all puffed up and gorgeous for a couple minutes after you take them out of the oven. But that doesn't mean the taste is affected.

Or for dessert, go with some kind of modified bananas foster thing where you don't necessarily flambe the sauce.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 AM on September 28, 2017

Oh, and back to the souffles - for some reason "personal size" versions of things come across as "fancy", so maybe make a small size souffle for each guest. That may cut down on the baking time, so you can maybe ensure that everyone is there and sitting at the table before you bring them out, for the maximum "wow, it looks so puffy and beautiful" impact before everyone digs in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

An awful lot of the things people are suggesting will not work with the person's restrictions. I have (different) strict dietary restrictions and I see this all the time - people who don't deal with this on a regular basis end up accidentally including forbidden ingredients. Sweet potato latkes, for instance, are fried in fat. I was in the hospital for a week once, and in spite of several consultations with the dietician, they never brought me a single meal I could eat.
Fortunately, a wonderful MeFite friend brought me food.

So my suggestion would be to stick to the very basic things they told you he could have. Personally, I always pre-eat before things like this, because I just assume I won't be able to eat anything there.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:12 AM on September 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

"food quirks"

As someone who also has a seemingly random list of food restrictions which is 100% medical, it really bums me out when people belittle my situation. Just because someone isn't going to go into a lethal anaphylactic shock episode doesn't mean people don't have totally legitimate medical reasons to avoid certain food. People here have explained very clearly that this person has a fairly common list of medical food restrictions and seeing them still waved off as quirks sucks.

This sounds almost exactly like the diet that I am not trying to manage.

I, too, am not trying to manage my condition! So if I tell you not to work around my issues, half the reason is that I'll probably forgot to mention one of the many unrelated restrictions I'm supposed to keep track of, or maybe I just don't feel like giving someone yet another detailed explanation of my condition. If I ask you not to make an issue of it, maybe it's because I'd rather just go to a dinner party and figure it out myself rather than draw attention to me and my stupid food problems, yet again.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

For the record:

As someone who also has a seemingly random list of food restrictions which is 100% medical, it really bums me out when people belittle my situation. Just because someone isn't going to go into a lethal anaphylactic shock episode doesn't mean people don't have totally legitimate medical reasons to avoid certain food. People here have explained very clearly that this person has a fairly common list of medical food restrictions and seeing them still waved off as quirks sucks.

My sincere apologies; belitting it was absolutely NOT the intent. I adopted that phrase from a cookbook author who was actually advocating a sincere acceptance of all allergies, religious and/or ethical dietary restrictions, and personal preferences. However, "allergies, religious and/or ethical dietary restrictions, and personal preferences" is a long and cumbersome phrase, so he used the term "quirks" as an umbrella term. It was meant to be lighthearted, not belittling.

I strongly and absolutely believe, as a host, in catering to my guest's comfort; I don't need to know why a person says they cannot have gluten or meat or dairy or what have you, I only need to know that they will not eat it, and will cheerfully accomodate. I actually err on the side of "they are allergic" to ensure even more strict adherance and caution, even if they just don't like peas or whatever.

Again, belittling food allergies was absolutely not my intent. it was a knee-jerk word choice I have unconsciously adopted, and I apologize.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

EC, I know it wasn't your intent, and I should of pointed that out, so I'm sorry I didn't make that part clear. But with so much (deserved) attention on allergies, I do think it's easy for people to forget that there are other reasons people have restricted diets, and possibly why the spouse's instructions aren't being taken at face value.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:33 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I may be missing something, but I'm not seeing quite what you're seeing.

You're correct that the OP isn't just saying "oh, well, the spouse says to just cook whatever I was going to and so I'll do that". But I think the intent is coming from a good place; at least, that's what my own response came from (to have a couple extra side dishes that you know that the guest can indeed eat).

To bring this back around to being within shouting distance of an answer: Room 641-A has a good point about how the ingredients you wouldn't expect can cause havoc if you aren't thinking of it, though. Maybe a quick-check with the couple about what you are planning, and reminding yourself to also mention things like "ooh, and I was planning on using butter as the fat, is THAT okay?", would be in order.

But yeah, do what the spouse says to do (make what you were planning), but then add a few extra sides, would be my approach; but adding that you could check that at least two or three of the sides pass muster. Variety is your friend; I had a Cajun birthday feast last February with a guest list that featured two vegetarians, one person on Atkins, one person on a sort of free-form Atkins-inspired thing, someone who was gluten-free and someone who didn't eat pork or shellfish, and I just threw enough different kinds of food at them all (I think about ten different dishes!) that everyone got to sample at least two different things and everyone left full and happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on September 28, 2017

Actually, if eggs, cheese, and milk are okay, that also means souffle is an option.

One of the very first things the question stated was no fat. Eggs, cheese, milk? That's fat! Kindly, this is exactly what I was talking about when I said "When people innovate and get creative it's much more likely they'll unintentionally make something I can't eat."

I know you and everyone else making creative suggestions have good intentions, but even a mouthful of off-limits food can cause days or weeks of agony.
posted by kate blank at 7:18 AM on September 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

If no fat really means no fat then mashed potatoes and white rice are also off limits. Every living cell (including the dead ones) are covered in a lipid bi-layer. Lipid = fat. Every unrefined food contains fat. From this persons list the only thing safe that I would be able to suggest is dilute sugar water with salt.

No grains (rice is a grain) or fresh fruit (last I checked banana was a fruit) might be doable, but no fat and no fiber means that refined sugar and vitamins along with purified protein supplements are all that person can eat. There is fat in molasses and also in maple syrup.

They even suggest pudding as a possibility, a soufle is a cheesy baked airy pudding.
posted by koolkat at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Stir it with a spoon, not with the chicken. Serve it with the chicken.
posted by theora55 at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2017

One of the very first things the question stated was no fat. Eggs, cheese, milk? That's fat!

With all due respect, this is the full list of restrictions:

He cannot have any fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, many cooked vegetables, no grains, no fiber, no fat. In general, he can eat things that are similar to baby food. If it is something we think as being healthy, then he probably can’t have it. He can have mashed potatoes, white rice, bananas, milk, pudding, and some other things.

I admit that eggs and cheese were my own reading, but milk is clearly something that is on the "okay" list.

All the more reason for the OP to consult with the couple and ask "okay, here's what I'm thinking of making. What can he eat? If there is something on the list that is 'borderline', is there a way I could easily adjust it to make it so he can eat it?"

that way, the OP knows what will and won't work - and even better, if they hear that "well, the mashed potatoes won't work if they have butter added, but if it's just plain then it's okay", then...that is an easy adjustment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on September 28, 2017

But the couple has spoken already: he eats very little anyway, don't change what you're making, this is very new . They didn't offer to do additional consultations. They did not solemnly swear on The Joy of Cooking that this was the "full list of restrictions" - they were just padding their request to not try to cook for him in a way that summed up the situation without going into excruciating detail that they may not even have but even if they do they do not owe anyone else, because they have requested nothing special be made for him.

As everyone tries to Sherlock what this person really can and cannot have without knowing his diagnosis (OR, in fact, his probably embarrassing/uncomfortable/worrisome mystery ailment that doesn't have an explanation yet and is super stressful to try to chase some kind of at least not-terrible status quo and right now a specific set of baby food-like foods seems to keep him the most functional, who knows what fresh hell tomorrow will bring, because that is so often the way of GI troubles) or whether they're lying because every living thing contains lipids therefore he should eat souffle, going back and interrogating Spouse about "but what about this, what about that" is not a kindness, it's another round of emotional labor and a denial of their very reasonable request to leave it alone.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:57 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

I would absolutely call up the spouse and talk it over with them. Someone with these dietary restrictions is probably not expecting a personal buffet separate from the main menu, they just want some simple starches that their gut can handle right now. Russet potatoes have the smallest amount of dietary fiber of all commercially available potatoes. White rice is even easier to digest. Pudding cups, bananas... these are easy things to have on hand. I think people are making this harder than it needs to be. Let the spouse know of your plans to feed the sensitive gut to clear it. I am sure this will be easy for all involved if you embrace the simplicity of the food needed.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:52 PM on September 28, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you all for this discussion, made especially helpful by your personal experiences as cooks and careful eaters. I mixed up my usual dishes with the spouse's suggestions. Everyone enjoyed themself (good conversation), we ate what worked for us as individuals, no one commented on what another was eating and we all had rice pudding with sliced banana for dessert.
posted by RaeVaughn1958 at 9:56 PM on September 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

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