Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Menus for Special Diets

I have a good friend who, due to allergies and sensitivities, follows a gluten-free, soy-free vegan diet.  She's getting ready for the holidays like the rest of us, but she was a bit worried about what to do for food.  I responded by putting together a menu for her that I would like to share with you all.

I will share the Thanksgiving menu I put together for her below.  I will post the Christmas/Yule menu in a separate post.

Notes:  Gluten-free oatmeal is available in many places.  As for the broth, I know that some chicken broths and stocks can have wheat flour in them.  I'm not sure about all vegetable broths and stocks, however, so be sure to check the labels (which you already do I am sure).   I would suggest making the lentils ahead of time, along with the cranberry sauce.  The flavors will intensify and the dishes will taste even better if made a couple of days in advance.  When reheating the lentils, add extra liquid as needed.  Red lentils take less cooking time than brown.

1.       Acorn squash with curried lentils
2.       Sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard with Balsamic vinegar and walnuts or pine nuts
3.       Orange-maple roasted beets
4.       Sweet potatoes whipped with coconut milk
5.       Gingered cranberry sauce

1.       Acorn Squash with Curried Lentils  (double or even triple the recipe, as needed)

1-2 acorn squashes
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 ½ cups lentils, washed
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 chili (deseeded to remove some heat), minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
¼ cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons curry powder
Approximately 3 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Cut the top off the squash.  Scoop out any seeds.  Reserve the top for serving.  Brush the top and the inside of the squash with melted coconut oil or olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Place in an oiled baking dish and roast until tender, about 40-50 minutes.
Heat coconut oil in a pot.  Add the onion and carrot.  Cook 5-7 minutes on medium heat, until onions start to turn translucent.
Add garlic, ginger, and chilies.  Cook 2-3 minutes longer.  
Add the lentils, tomato paste, and curry powder.  Stir to coat. 
Pour in the vegetable broth.  You may need a bit more as the lentils cook.  You may also supplement with water.
Cook until lentils are tender.  This can take anywhere from 20-35 minutes, depending on heat.  Check them after about 20 minutes.  Add more liquid as necessary.  You want them to be thick and stew-like.
When lentils are done, add cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the squash is roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Fill with the lentils.  Pop the top on to serve.

2.       Sauteed sprouts and Chard: 

1 pack fresh Brussels sprouts
1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive or grape seed oil
Scant ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar, if needed
3-4 tablespoons water or vegetable broth, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts

Cut the ends off the sprouts and finely shred them with a knife or in a food processor.
Blanch the stems of the chard in boiling water for a couple of minutes.  Drain and shock in cold (ice) water.
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the shallot in oil for 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or two.
Add the sprouts, chard, and chard stems.  Stir to coat.  Sprinkle with a little salt. 
Add a bit of liquid and put a lid on the skillet so the vegetables can steam.
When vegetables are almost tender (check after about 7 minutes), take off the lid and pour on the vinegar.  Let the liquid reduce until syrupy.  If the vinegar is too tart, add a teaspoon of sugar.
Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the nuts. 

3.       Maple-Orange Beets: 

2-3 large beets, tops trimmed
Olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup
Juice of one large orange
Zest of ½ orange
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Rub the beets with oil and wrap in foil.  Roast the foil-wrapped beets for about 90 minutes, until tender.
When beets are done, remove from oven and allow to cool.  When you can handle them, peel off the skins and cut beets into chunks.
In a saucepan, combine orange juice, maple syrup, and orange zest.   Let simmer until thickened slightly.  Add beets, stir to combine, and simmer for another minute or so.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.      Whipped Sweet Potatoes with coconut milk:

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons margarine or coconut oil
¼ - 1/3 cup coconut milk (full fat)
Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Cut the sweet potatoes into chunks and place in a pot of cold water.   Bring to a boil.  Cook on medium-high heat until fork-tender (20-25 minutes or so).
Drain the sweet potatoes well and place in a mixing bowl. 
Add coconut oil or margarine, seasoning, and coconut milk (start with ¼ cup and add more if needed)
Using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or potato masher, whip the potatoes until smooth and creamy.

5.       Gingered Cranberry Sauce

1 bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup ginger ale
¼ teaspoon grated ginger

Place ingredients in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Some of the berries will burst and some will remain hole.

Mixture will thicken as it cools.  Serve chilled. 

I know this menu has her approval, and she is very excited to try it out.  If you need recipes for special diets, maybe some of these recipes will pique your curiosity as well.   Happy feasting. 

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