Serve This, Not That

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Serve This, Not That
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Preparing a holiday meal for your entire family can seem like an overwhelming endeavor, particularly when you're also tasked with accommodating dietary restrictions and food allergies. The key is to swap out simple ingredients for dairy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free or even vegan alternatives, depending on your guests' requirements. Fear not, you can still earn compliments on your finger-lickin' good food.

Creamy, Dairy-Free Soup
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Creamy, Dairy-Free Soup

Creamy soup is the perfect appetizer on any holiday menu. The problem, however, arises when those with dairy restrictions sit down at the table. Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, founder of the website Your Resident Gourmet, has a solution. "Instead of bulking up your soups with cream, add pureed potato instead," she advises. "Not only are you getting less fat, but the potassium in potatoes can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke."

Fluffy Vegan Biscuits
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Fluffy Vegan Biscuits

Standard biscuit recipes call for butter and milk, but you can certainly make a vegan version of the same. Simply replace dairy milk with soy milk and use vegetable shortening or margarine in place of butter. Make sure the margarine or shortening is very cold to get that fluffy-meets-crispy texture.

Vegetarian & Vegan Gravy
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Vegetarian & Vegan Gravy

Gravy is a must-have at any holiday table, but because it typically requires animal-based ingredients, it's off-limits for vegetarians and vegans. To appease your vegetarian or vegan guests, substitute vegetable broth in place of meat broths and vegetable oil or margarine in place of animal fats. Soy sauce, onions and mushrooms can all enhance the flavor of your gravy as well.

Gluten-Free Crumb Topping
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Gluten-Free Crumb Topping

Lots of savory casseroles and vegetable dishes -- including green bean casserole -- call for bread crumbs. To get the same crunch without the gluten, Booker says to use gluten-free rolled oats, which are packed with B vitamins, iron and fiber. "Rolled oats with fresh herbs, freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt are the perfect alternative to bread crumbs," she says. "They are high in fiber and healthy carbohydrates and have a nutty flavor that complements chicken, pork and even fish."

Vegetarian Roasted Squash With Stuffing
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Vegetarian Roasted Squash With Stuffing

You can always go the meatless-turkey route for your vegetarian and vegan guests, but sometimes mixing things up is the best way to go. For a main dish that impresses both eyes and taste buds, make a stuffed, roasted butternut or acorn squash. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush on olive oil. Fill with a mixture of your choice of precooked grains (quinoa, rice, barley), vegetables, nuts and even cranberries. Bake at 450 F until tender.

Gluten-Free Turkey Stuffing
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Gluten-Free Turkey Stuffing

"With so many people dealing with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, it may seem difficult to find a stuffing for your roast turkey that everyone will enjoy," says Booker. Yet these days, there are many gluten free options available. Specialty food stores, or even your local grocery store, now offer gluten free stuffing, gluten free cornbread, and other GF options such as brown rice or quinoa. Booker says you can still use your favorite ingredients -- such as celery, onion, bell pepper and sage -- for this take on traditional stuffing.

Dairy-Free & Vegan Mashed Potatoes
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Dairy-Free & Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes loaded with cream, butter and savory cheeses are certainly a holiday tradition. All that dairy is a lactose-intolerant eater's worst nightmare, though. To create a dairy-free version, use almond milk and margarine in place of cream and butter. If you want that cheesy taste, add a dash of nutritional yeast and mix well.

Lactose-Free Mousse and Desserts
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Lactose-Free Mousse and Desserts

When it comes to desserts, no one likes to mess with a family favorite. Still, it's important to accommodate those with lactose intolerance or vegan preferences. "A simple substitution of coconut cream for heavy cream can make chocolate mousse and buche de Noel desserts that everyone can enjoy," says Booker.

Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
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Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Low-carb and gluten-free pumpkin pie not only appeases a variety of palates, but it's also a low-calorie dessert anyone can eat without feeling guilty. Prepare your pumpkin pie filling as you normally would, but place it in a baking dish (pie pan or casserole) without the crust. It will still set up like your standard pumpkin pie and taste just as delicious.

Vegan Eggnog
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Vegan Eggnog

Eggnog is a cool-weather holiday necessity. It's relaxing, it's savory and it's incredibly delicious. As the name would imply, though, eggnog is full of non-vegan-friendly eggs. To make a vegan or vegetarian (and consequently lactose-free) version, replace the eggs with a banana and the milk or cream with almond, soy or coconut milk. Whether or not you spike it is up to you.

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