A Fall Menu for Guests with Dietary Food Restrictions

Photo by Katherine Tallmadge
Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger
Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger

Cooking for special guests with food restrictions can seem an ominous task. It often means that none of your favorite special occasion recipes work, risking disappointing your guests with a less than delcious meal.

 I was recently faced with entertaining a friend who couldn't eat grains, starch, sugar, dairy, eggs, legumes, peanuts, almonds, garlic, or alcohol ... You get the picture! But my friends said I did it well, so I thought I would share my menu with you.

First, since my food choices were limited, the recipes were likely going to be fairly simple. so choosing the best ingredients was paramount. Obviously, that meant I bought just about everything from the local Farmers Market.

As Hors d'oevres, I served Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomato Halves. On most diets, vegetables are unlimited, so you can't go wrong with them. My quacamole was simply mashed avocado with salt and pepper. You can stuff the cherry tomato halves with anything - tuna or smoked salmon salad, tabouleh, etc. I also served pistachio nuts in a side dish (always with a spoon to prevent spreading germs).

Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomato Halves (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomato Halves

As the first course, I served Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger, always a hit. I created this recipe years ago, because I couldn't find a butternut squash soup recipe with no cream. Of course, this made it perfect for this special menu. All I had to do was to excluded the garlic.

As the main course, I served a crab cake, topped with a tiger shrimp and 2 scallops as decoration. All bought that day from Stachowski's in Georgetown. The guests were overwhelmed with the freshness, sweetness and delicacy of the seafood. And I confirmed that nothing in the crabcake was verboten. With most of these diets, protein is not limited, but I chose seafood to be on the healthier side. My side dishes were Haricot Vert sauteed in olive oil with sweet onions and red peppers. And for color, golden and red beets simply boiled with salt and sliced, were served alongside.

Red and Golden Beets (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Red and Golden Beets

Of course, I really wanted dessert to be special. But I was limited to fruit. Hmmm...  I've eaten roasted fruit, like apricots and peaches, and sauteed fruit in butter and brown sugar. The butter and brown sugar were out, so I decided to roast fruit, which I had never done before. I looked up a few recipes, found fresh pineapple and fresh figs at the grocery store and thought long and hard about what I could roast them in. Could they be roasted alone? I couldn't find any recipe this simple and I was afraid to try it. It seemed that the fruit would need some kind of fat and sweetener to make it special. But I couldn't use butter or sugar. Instead, I chose coconut milk, hazelnut oil, and a little honey. I tossed the fresh pineapple pieces and fig halves, in a bowl with the mixture, added pecans, and placed them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper (nothing sticks to it). Roasted til the pineapple was golden brown.

But that wasn't enough. I needed something creamy with it... ice cream or whipped  cream were out of the question. But I heard that coconut milk was popular with the alternative dieting crowd (even though it riases bad cholesterol more than anything else!),  so I looked up how to make something creamy out of it. Turns out, it gets nice and fluffy when whipped with a beater. I served it alongside the fruit. And it was a hit!

Roasted Fresh Pineapple, Figs and Pecans Tossed in Honey, Coconut and Hazelnut Oil (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Roasted Fresh Pineapple, Figs and Pecans Tossed in Honey, Coconut and Hazelnut Oil

With a willingness to experiment, try new recipes, and to please your friends who want to eat great food but may be on special diets, it's worth it to take your cooking into a new direction. My dinner was probably hit and miss. But my friends appreciated my effort and I'm sure enjoyed at least most of it!

2 Comments For This Article


It was the most amazing, thoughtful dinner party I have attended!
Everything was yummy and healthy and done to perfection. Katherine also served a lemon sparkling water, which I'm now addicted to for cocktails. We also sampled Tait Farm original SHRUB with Ginger purchased at Historic Gunston Hall!
So , it was a sumptuous , healthy dinner, prepared by an elegant hostess on a candle lit Georgetown gem teeming with Swedish Antiques!


I, too, was honored to be the recipient of Katherine’s warm hospitality. As someone who is now gluten and dairy free, venturing out of my own kitchen and braving a dinner party can be a bit tricky. You never want to offend a host by saying, “I’m sorry, but I can’t eat that!” The other night all three of us happily ventured into the land of serious diet restrictions. Katherine embraced it and was like a maestro in the kitchen, producing beautiful, delicious, and healthy plates, one after the other. Each catering perfectly to our limitations. We had more fun discussing the menu and savoring every bite. Katherine’s menu was amazing in and of itself and no one would have ever known it was prepared with restrictions in mind. It was a lovely evening – camaraderie and experimentation with delicious, healthy and fresh food sourced right in our neighborhood!