Some guests appreciate a few dietary considerations
Blood type, gluten free, vegetarian/vegan, diabetic
How to cater for guests who can't eat regular party fare
Have you ever been invited to a party or function where just about everything on the table was in conflict with your current dietary protocol? What is healthy for one guest may be regarded as the opposite for another. This special guide to healthy entertaining is to help a considerate host to cater for guests who present the following challenges:
1 Gluten intolerance. For some it is only a wheat problem. But going totally gluten-free usually means to exclude wheat, rye, barley and oats. So alternatives can be offered. The other option is to make the table basically gluten-free. Then offer crackers, bread and rolls including some 100% rye or gluten-free ones separately. This is what I find works best. Let people have a choice and make it all taste fabulous! By the way, beer is a problem because it contains dozens of harmful antigens that shred the gut lining and affect immunity and can even make you very depressed. One then becomes addicted to the toxins in the beer so the body can produce opiates that make you euphoric. The same is true of food made out of wheat. They syndrome is called allergenic addiction.
2 Vegetarians and vegans. There are different types and the most popular is the lacto-ovo variant whereby animal by products (but not the flesh) is OK. So they eat eggs, milk and honey - like me. Some vegetarians don't eat eggs. A vegan won't even touch honey and insists that all food be free of anything animal. A pescetarian eats fish and usually also milk, honey and eggs. So we need to have some of our dishes entirely free of anything that comes from an animal. Don't panic, just follow this party plan. Think of using tofu, avovado pear, tahini, nut butters / milks and bananas for substitutes.
3 Specific allergies: to nuts, strawberries, guavas, sunflower seeds, shellfish and so on. People on the danger list will let you know in advance or be able to pick and choose. Sometimes they will come and ask you what ingredients you have used. This is a specific, not a general consideration and rarely needs to be catered for.
4 Sugar problems and diabetics. Some diabetics take insulin and eat according to their dosage of insulin or similar medications. The healthier option is to avoid all the sugar in the first place or eat to keep the insulin activity to a minimum by adding more protein, fat and fibre to a dish. For them, naturally sweet foods such as bananas, raisins and dates provide the basic sweetening and stevia or xylitol add extra sweetness. I often include a separate stevia spray so people can adjust the level of sweetness as preferred.
5 Eating Right for Your Blood Type? I have had over 15 years of experience with blood type preferences and will give you plenty of guidance as we get stuck into preparing the dishes, dips, sauces and deserts. At the end of this article I provide a reference link to my free full colour diet lists. (My book: HEALTHY HAPPY EATING for All Blood types by Sue Visser was published in 2004. It includes most of these easy recipes plus a lot of health protocols.) The Peter D'Adamo website and books also provide the basics.
6 Alcoholics, alcohol and abstinence? If there is a serious possibility of an alcoholic getting into trouble at the early stages of treatment then depending on the size of the party you can make it a dry party. Of course, some people have a religious objection to alcohol and if you need to, alcohol can be discreetly served in a corner to people who do enjoy moderate drinking. Remember that most people drink wine and cocktails because they are thirsty and hungry. So serve a welcome drink that is almost sugar-free and laden with pieces of fresh fruit, mint and a stick of celery. Offer snacks immediately to help prevent a drop in blood sugar.
A table laid to suit all dietary preferences? For entertaining I find it best to use ingredients that suit all blood types. I don't eat or cook any flesh-based food for personal reasons but am happy to buy items from the delicatessen such as cooked prawns, smoked salmon, anchovies, mussels or herrings that can easily be added to most of the dishes by the guests. Keep ingredients like chick peas, tomatoes or lentils that do not suit all blood types very visible so they are easy enough to pick out.(Oh how I wish!)
Don't worry - as you can see from these examples there are plenty of great alternatives to regular party food. There are also delicious dishes that are 100% vegan and suit all blood types. All guests need to do is add their own cheese, eggs, fish or cold meat to them and top up with the delicious home made sauces. The good news is that we can definitely cut out all the unhealthy white flour, trans-fatty acids, sugar and high corn fructose syrup. They are not good for anybody and it is not wise to call food that is made out of them a treat.
Tempting people to eat harmful food at party time is not a kind thing to do because not everybody can say no. They may tend to binge and regret it afterwards. Rather take the time to learn how to make healthy happy food and keep in shape. As such you can even lose weight at party time! So don't deep fry pumpkin fritters. Make flapjacks in a non-stick pan. Add plenty of fresh chopped pineapple, cinnamon and ginger.
Credit: Sue Visser
A selection of healthy home made sauces, dips and salsa
What sets food apart from regular meals is the taste so here is the most important secret. Keep the main ingredients simple, fresh and laid out attractively. Then provide a large choice of interesting sauces, dips and side dishes that can be added by the guests individually. A buffet is the easies
t way to let people pick and choose and load up their plates. For picnics just pack up the dishes and the sauces and take them along for a more casual type of party. It could be an outdoor concert, on top of a mountain covered in snow or a sunny beach. Even the humble backyard will do. Make it a special and happy time.
We don't all have a lot of time to make sauces at home in the kitchen. But some people are avid label readers and may prefer gluten-free condiments that are free of chemicals with nasty names. So here is a selection of my favourite tried and tested recipes. These tasty tricks are what transform boring green leaves and wimpy salads into show stoppers. You can also add little flags perched on toothpicks to the dishes so that people can read the ingredients. Some of them will need to steer clear of nuts, hot chilli, green pepper or raw onion. But when it comes to MSG, don't bother. Once you know the truth about what is actually a natural form of the amino acid called glutamate you don't have to panic about MSG. It is naturally present in lots of food including soy sauce, parmesan cheese and tomatoes and that's why they taste good.
You can of course also buy a nice selection of sauces to add some zing to your party table. At good food markets there are plenty of home style pesto sauces, salsa, pickles, preserves, tappenade (from olives) and delicious pâté to choose from. Even so, take a scroll through these recipes because they can save you a lot of money and are free of chemicals and you can omit any conflicting ingredients.Credit: Sue Visser
The Moroccan lemon pickle is always a great hit and it is so cheap and easy to make. If you already use my book you will be familiar with most of the recipes and dishes that suit all blood types. The trick is to make a big deal of serving lovely sauces and extra side dishes to create a sensational buffet. Use colourful serviettes and decorate the table with groups of nuts, dried fruit, fresh herbs, slices of fruit, pieces of cheese and grapes. Guests love to stand and pick at the food and load up on what they fancy. Pack up the leftovers for a picnic the following day.
The best thing is knowing that everybody will be able to relax and nobody will be left out! I recently had a wonderful feast with plenty to eat at party meal where our friends are on a health orientated gluten-free diet. They have all lost a lot of weight and now also eat plenty of salads and vegetables. I was in heaven! (There have been times when I have had to bring an apple, some cheese and a salad with me to so-called health conferences at our local community centres.) But watch out for raw food, especially excessive quantities of certain raw vegetables, fruits and nuts because they may not be that easy to digest, especially in funky combinations.
Easy peasy versatile and variable yoghurt sauce
This is a no brainer. Use it as an alternative to plain old mayo but it is free of eggs. By the way, most low-fat or egg free mayonnaise is loaded with sugar and cornstarch and of course, chemicals. For most people yoghurt or amasi is fine because they are fermented products and are lactose free. Vegans can use an avocado or tofu curd instead. (Soya not for O and B non-secretors. You can refer to the free lists provided in the reference section.)
- Place a cup of yoghurt into a cereal bowl. Whisk in a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of olive oil. Then add mustard and some herb salt to taste. For a richer taste, add a tablespoon of tahini and a pinch of cumin. Process the mixture with a stick or immersion blender if you have one.
- Variations and tasty tips: Add a few items from this list: chopped herbs, chives, garlic, peppadews, fresh chilli (just a bit of green chilli), a splash of soy sauce, chutney, curry powder or anything that takes your fancy. Let the creative juices flow.
- An avocado is always good to mash into any sauce or dip and this is no exception. In winter they are cheaper and more abundant - and creamier than during summer.
Lovely lean and light creamy dreamy onion sauce
This cool creamy white onion sauce keeps well in the fridge. It can be served with any dish - especially green vegetables or used as a light, low-fat dip or salad dressing. It can also be used as a substitute for regular white sauce and is handy to heat up at the last minute.
- 1 large onion or two smaller onions
- 50 ml lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey (or agave or maple syrup)
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon herb salt
- 1 clove chopped garlic (optional)
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
No nore trears from raw onions - burn a candle next to you
Peel and chop the onions and simmer them in a little salted water until they are tender. Place all the ingredients in a deep bowl and process thoroughly with a hand-held blender. You can also use a food processor or an electric blender. Keep the sauce in the fridge.
Variations to your onion sauce
- Add yoghurt (or tofu curd), chopped herbs, spices, tomato paste, parmesan cheese.
- Red or pink: Use 30 ml balsamic vinegar instead of 50 ml lemon juice. A piece of cooked beetroot will also add more colour. (Or use the vinegar from the beetroot jar.)
- Use tarragon vinegar instead of lemon juice and garnish with basil leaves.
- Add a small, fresh chilli instead of the mustard for more of a kick, but warn the guests.
A look-alike alternative to tomato sauce
Some people, especially blood type A, don’t enjoy chillies and A-secretors and B-secretors need to avoid tomatoes, so here is a mild red dip as an alternative. Let them think it's tomato!
- 2 carrots, chopped and boiled till soft
- 2 teaspoons paprika powder (smoked paprika is better)
- 50 ml lemon juice or 30 ml balsamic vinegar
- 50 ml olive oil
- ½ teaspoon herb salt
- 2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar or alternative
- 1 clove fresh garlic (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped onion (pickled is better)
Blend all the ingredients together, using a hand-held blender or a food processor. Use it as you would a normal tomato ketchup or pesto sauce as a table top condiment. Or add it instead of regular tomato purée if you know of a guest who reacts badly to tomatoes (like my husband.)Credit: Sue Visser
Ravishingly sweet and tangy raisin sauce
This sauce is very versatile and can be used on salads or vegetables, for dips, on yoghurt and even breakfast cereals. It can be made on the spot, and the sweetness can be made to suit. The raisins make it very sweet – far sweeter than just adding hard little raisins to a dish. The combination of raw onions with raisins is said to be very healthy. By adding lemon juice or vinegar and some oil, the glycemic Index of the raisins is lowered to a more tolerable level.
- 1 very small onion, chopped (or a pickled onion)
- 100 ml seedless raisins soaked in 50 ml hot black tea
- 50 ml lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- Optional: the grated rind of a whole lemon
- 100 ml olive / grape seed / canola oil
- A pinch of herb salt
Blend all the ingredients together in deep bowl using a hand-held or stick-type blender. Add some extra onion to make it more savoury or have a look at the sweeter variations.
- Breakfast or deserts. Leave out the onion and the salt. Add a chopped apple and a little more lemon juice. Serve with yoghurt and fruit salad for dessert. Add a pinch of ginger or cinnamon powder. For an even sweeter sauce add a chopped banana to the mixture. No sugar required!
- Vegetable or curry relish. Add a large, chopped onion and more lemon juice or vinegar. Add a small chilli and some fresh grated ginger. Add one or two fresh or dried apricots. Spoon this mixture over steamed root vegetables like butternut, sweet potato or parsnips.
- A raw vegan salad. Chop up a few lettuce leaves and place them in the bottom of a salad bowl. Sprinkle on some olive oil and lemon juice and a dash of herb salt. Top this with a selection of raw grated parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, apple and butternut. Mix in the raisin relish and plop it on the lettuce.
Traditional style pesto on the cheap
Pesto sauce is usually made with pine nuts that are very expensive. This recipe uses alternatives such as: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews or walnuts. Parmesan cheese can be substituted for pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk. If you are really a cheap skate you can use feta cheese. The dominant flavour is fresh basil leaves and thank God, they are easy to find and are very cheap. You can grow your own and are probably doing so if you are a genuine foodie. Vegans can use fermented soya products such as miso or tempeh to add the cheesiness. By now you will best know how to substitute cow cheese for soya cheese.
- 100 ml olive or rice bran or canola oil
- 50 ml lemon juice or apple cider / brown malt vinegar
- 3 ml herb salt
- 1 clove garlic, peeled (optional)
- 6 small spinach leaves or 1 cup of English spinach
- 10 sprigs of fresh basil ( a handful of basil leaves)
- 100 ml grated parmesan cheese or substitute
- 50 ml pine nuts or seeds / nuts as suggested
First rind up the seeds or nuts you choose to use. Then place the oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic into the tall stick blender goblet (or an old feta cheese tub.). Add a third of the chopped green leaves and process with the stick blender. Keep adding more leaves. If the mixture gets too solid, add a little more oil or lemon juice. Stir in the grated cheese and ground-up seeds or nuts. Do not worry if the mixture looks a bit runny because it is still warm. After a day in the fridge the sauce becomes more solid. The pesto keeps well in the fridge and can excite the most boring dish. Even gluten-free pasta. (Made from alternatives such as rice, corn, buckwheat or quinoa.)Credit: Sue Visser
Tangy lemon dressing with spicy sprouts
This is for the real flavour buffs. It provides an intense experience in the mouth as mustard seeds snap to the bite with the tang of fresh lemons. It takes steamed green vegetables or grilled fish into another dimension. This is for gourmets with well styled taste buds.
A few days beforehand make some sprouts: soak 1 tablespoon of black or brown mustard seeds, ½ tablespoon of cumin seeds (jeera) and 2 teaspoons of wild onion (black cumin or kaloentjie) seeds in ½ cup water. Then drain them in a sieve and leave them to grow little white tips overnight. They are now classified as sprouts.
To the deep container used with the plunge/stick blender, add the following:
- The pre-soaked, rested and drained seeds (sprouts)
- 1 small chopped onion
- ½ chopped lemon - peel and all
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- a good pinch of Himalayan salt
- Optional extra: 1 small fresh green chilli
Process all together very well with a stick blender on high to make a smooth paste.
Honey and mustard variation:
- Soak 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds with 1 teaspoon cumin/onion seed in ¼ cup cider vinegar for a few days.
- Add 1 large chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- a good pinch of Himalayan salt
Make it the same way, by blending the ingredients together with a stick blender.
Morish Moroccan lemon pickle in a jiffy
I always keep lemon pickle handy as it adds a unique flavour to even the most boring piece of gluten-free bread or crackers. For us chilli lovers, life would not be worth living without a tub of home made red-hot stuff in the fridge. I am often anxious about having some when invited to a party - you know what I mean? So I often add a few chopped fresh chillies to the lemon pickle. Most of the dips and sauces are best when made many hours before serving, to allow them to firm up in the fridge. They freeze very well in small plastic containers. So that makes the party day easier to handle. With a good stash of ready-made goodies in the freezer you can get on with preparing the other dishes.
Quick easy method: I find it more convenient to slice the lemons into tiny slivers instead of using whole lemons and waiting for weeks. This salted lemon doubles up as an incredible health food, especially if made from organic lemons and Himalayan rock salt. A few teaspoons of it a day keeps everything at bay – and it adds zing to food and cuts cholesterol. Wow!
Wash and quarter a lemon. Remove the pithy pippy centre bits. Squeeze out most of the juice and keep it to use for drinks and cocktails. Slice each quarter of the lemon into paper-thin slices. It is quicker to do in a food processor, but for a small amount I find it is not worth all the washing up! Sprinkle on about two teaspoons of natural sea salt per lemon and rub it into the slices. Place the salt and lemon in a small covered glass or ceramic bowl and leave it in the sun or a warm place for a few hours. It is then ready to have with your curry, fish, casseroles, snacks or spinach. This pickle keeps well in the fridge for a few days and becomes more like a fermented pickle. You can freeze small portions of it in smaller containers. My favourite!
Variations for lemon pickle:
- Add grated ginger to the lemon slices
- Add finely chopped green chilli for a bit of a burn
- Add some fresh limes to the lemon pickle
- When the pickle is soft enough mix in some olive oil
- Add extra seasoning like black pepper, cumin, coriander and other spices
Instant fat-free lemon and onion pickle buzz
Dice up a whole lemon and remove the pips. Peel and roughly chop up an onion. Add a teaspoon of salt. Process the lemon, onion and salt with a stick blender until it is smooth. This tasty pulp can be added to soup, spinach dishes, stir fries, curries and sauces. Serve it at the table as well, especially on fish, spinach or green beans.
Optional extras: add some fat-free yoghurt (or avocado or tahini for vegans), to make a nice salad or vegetable dressing. Add chopped herbs of your choice and your favourite spices or chilli flakes. For a green version, add a bunch of coriander or parsley leaves and a teaspoon of cumin powder. You may need to add a bit more liquid - lemon juice or vinegar and tone it down with a spoon of honey.
A selection of snacks to go with the dips and salsa
Credit: Sue Visser
The gluten-free, calorie controlled option: fresh slices of cucumber, lettuce, slices of pineapple, apple or carrot, celery sticks, cocktail tomatoes, grapes and raw mushroom slices. You can do spectacular things with pineapples, so here are some more ideas - healthy of course!
Complex carbohydrates in moderation: Rye crackers, rice crackers or thin toasted slices of rye. Whole-wheat biscuits are for A and AB secretors only and they contain gluten. Poppadums (made from lentil flour – not for B’s or O secretors) can be crisped up under the grill with a light spray of olive oil. Some shops sell poppadums made of rice. Thin discs or sheets of rice “noodle” from Chinese shops can be quickly fried in rice bran oil and will suit all blood types – guaranteed! Fried shrimp crackers are also naughty but nice with dips. Buy home made vegetable crisps including butternut, beetroot and sweet potato. They are yummy.
Quick and healthy gluten-free biscuits from play dough
- 50 ml oil
- 100 ml sweet molasses
- 300 ml yellow pea flour (suits all blood types)
Combine the 3 ingredie
nts using a fork and then work it into stiff play dough with your hands. Add a bit of water or leftover rooibos tea to moisten it if it is unworkable. It must feel like plasticine. Use it to make to cookies or decorations - or let the Kids play with it.
Heat up the oven 180 deg. C. Turn it off and they will be ready in half an hour. Or leave then overnight as they are brittle when warm.
The biscuits can be spiced up or coated in sesame seeds or cocounut according to your own taste. The detailed recipes and pictures are provided for you here at Info Barrel in a separate article. They last for a couple of months so you can have fun making them well in advance.
The heavenly sweet stuff with a healthy twist
Credit: Sue Visser
Rich puddings make you fat. Period. It is not necessary to overload on calories during treats time as we know. But along comes temptation and the promise made to self to make up for it tomorrow. The tomorrow that never comes. So keep everybody including yourself out of trouble and make simple yet elegant desserts out of fruit, jelly and of all things carrots. I have a good recipe for an Indian carrot dessert that includes Xmas pudding favourites like spices, nuts and raisins. It can be served hot or cold and keeps people away from excesses of unhealthy goo.
Use either fresh cream or alternatives to add a festive touch. Think of using blends of fresh fruit and banana, tofu and apple juice for vegans. For a cheesecake pudding effect as opposed to a trifle, add home made cottage cheese. Crumble up some of the gluten free biscuits and soak them in rooibos tea or brandy for the crust. There are endless possibilities but you get the idea? Keep it light and lean if you are trying to help people to stick to a rigid health protocol. Make it attractive, delicious and fun. Diabetics and fussy eaters will feel at home.
There is no need to be dull - just cut the calories and open up
to all the delicious natural ingredients out there. Enjoy your feast!
Other snacks for in betweeners and their suitability:
Green olives (black ones do not really suit all blood types) dried figs, apricots or raisins.
Everybody loves chocolate so make sure you have different types to suit people with lactose intolerance, sugar-free requirements and other problems. Try the Inca chocolate brownies!
Nuts that suit all blood types: walnuts and almonds. (Peanuts are only for A’s and AB non-secretors, so that’s why they make most people so fat!) Mixed nuts provide all the options! Mix them with raisins and strips of dried apricot and figs.
Cheeses that are more or less OK for all blood types include Feta cheese and Farmer's cheese. I have provided some recipes for you to tinker around with so you can make your own cream cheese and Labne. This will save you a lot of money but it takes a while to become an expert.
International ideas for a simple yet savoury meals during the festivities
- Turkish style gluten-free pizza with baked black eye beans and fake tomato salsa. When topped with Farmer's cheese it suits blood types to a tolernce of 80%
- Mexican style cessadillas. Gluten free pancakes filled with Farmer's cheese and freshly chopped basil, baby spinach and chives.
- Greek style mashed potato called skordali in lettuce nests with a finger salad.
- An Indian curry evening with poppadums, dips and vegan curries.
Credit: Sue visser
Credit: Sue Visser
Additional suggestions and recipes for healthy festive treats:
1 You can also include these fat burning foods suggestions to help control party weight gain
2 Use raw foods with caution if they contain dangerous chemicals like cyanide
2 Citrus fruit is highly beneficial. Oranges are excellent for blood type B!
4 Make your own cream cheese and Labne
5 Use pineapples to pump up the feast
6 Make gluten-free high protein cookies from edible play dough
7 All about chocolate. Recipe for Inca chocolate brownies
8 Carrots for snacks, salads and desserts