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Feeding guests who are vegetarians during the traditional holiday meal doesn’t need to be recipe for disaster. Meal-planners simply need to keep a few simple tips in mind.


“If your family has any special or favorite dishes you enjoy during the holidays, definitely keep them on the menu and simply incorporate dishes catering to the vegetarians or vegans in the crowd,” said Darren Scott of the Oklahoma State University Robert. M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.


When a host knows in advance holiday guests have special dietary needs, ask them what they can eat, as well as what they like. After all, there are different types of vegetarian diets. Also, many foods made for vegetarian diets contain either soy or wheat protein, which is gluten, so those dishes could pose issues for individuals with certain food allergies.


Scott recommended holiday hosts keep things simple and avoid dishes containing unfamiliar foods and ingredients. Holidays aren’t the best time to experiment, he said.


Soup is a good option, and so is winter squash, which can usually be stuffed with wild rice, cranberries and other ingredients appropriate for a vegetarian diet. Another alternative involves roasting winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.


Ideas for side items might include roasted mushrooms, risotto and sweet potatoes. Pasta dishes without meat or salads with greens, toasted nuts, dried cranberries and homemade croutons are viable options, as well.


Hosts can make recipe substitutions, such as using nonmeat ingredients when possible, cooking with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and exchanging margarine for butter.


“Of course, as families and friends grow more diverse and tastes vary widely, there is always potluck,” Scott said. “As the host of a potluck style holiday meal, simply provide a few basic main dishes and invite others to bring sides. That way, everyone knows there will be at least one dish they like and will eat.”

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