We know Thanksgiving isn’t for another few weeks, but we believe in preparing early. These days, every office has at least one person with a dietary restriction. The one time a year when this becomes a hot topic is Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the table is set with the same dishes every year. But what do you do when a coworker is vegan? What if your boss is on a diet? How do you support your accountant’s attempts to avoid fatty voids this day of all days? Thanksgiving in the office can be tricky.
At Computhink, we have a diverse office with a wide variety of preferences and dietary restrictions. This makes looking out for one another at the Turkey Day luncheon part of the tradition. We have gathered some recipes from around the web which are perfect for an inclusive (and delicious!) office holiday celebration.
We know some readers are planning to maintain an empty stomach until Turkey Time, but for those of you who like to nosh, we’ve found a great starter. Sugar-free foods are often sold pre-packaged. We prefer to make ours from scratch. This sugar-free Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Dip is a divine snack to munch on while the game is on and the food’s in the oven. For those with strict dietary restrictions, this should make it easier to enjoy the aperitif course this time of year.
When people hear about vegan gravy, their first response is usually, “gravy isn’t already vegan?” No, most traditional gravies are at least made with meat stock, even if they don’t have the giblets. But vegan gravy is a lot simpler than you would expect. As most vegetarian cooks know, nutritional yeast is an excellent alternative for giving veggie dishes a decidedly savory or cheesy flavor, without the meat or the cheese. Table Spoon has the most basic (and tastiest) recipe for this dish. And with rosemary and sage, your gravy can taste just as great as the original. Consider throwing in carrots, onions, or mushrooms for added texture.
Dairy-free mashed potatoes
“Dietary Restrictions.” What do you think of when you hear that? Probably lactose intolerance. This unfortunate condition affects anywhere from 10 to 95% of the population, depending on where you reside. Beyond that, some folks simply choose not to consume dairy products. If this is the case in your office, boy have we got a treat for you! Dairy free mashed potatoes can be made with any number of substitutes, including coconut or almond milk. To get that country style flavor, consider using a dairy-free kefir to mimic buttermilk. Use a vegetable spread low in trans or saturated fat in place of butter. And try our favorite recipe from Green Valley Lactose Free cooking for a complete, scrumptious dish that everyone will love.
Your workplace might not want to have a turkey on turkey day. You needn’t even ask why, because there are so many alternatives to the gobblers, it’ll make your head spin! If a turkey isn’t to your liking, consider other birds such as fatty, succulent duck or the delicate flavors of Cornish hens. Maybe you want to avoid avian food altogether: consider mussels as a lighter, but equally flavorful, alternative. Perhaps salmon is more up your river, with a rub of rosemary, thyme, and sage. If you’re looking to avoid animals altogether, your options really begin to open up. Vegan pot pies are already a dish with a Thanksgiving flavor profile, and you can even include vegan gravy. Many households and offices also enjoy a large plate of lasagna as the centerpiece for Thanksgiving festivities.
Gluten-Free Cauliflower Stuffing
What would any turkey be without dressing to capture that signature flavor? For folks with Celiac Disease, with Gluten Intolerance, or who are on a Gluten-Free Diet, Thanksgiving can be a nightmare. Not only is stuffing a central dish (and the turkey is filled with it), but most of the desserts and sides include gluten on some level. Imagine a delicious stuffing with all the spices, ingredients, and fixin’s but none of the bread. Yum. That’s where cauliflower comes in. Baked right, it tastes even better than a bread-based stuffing and has a more complex flavor profile. Delish’s recipe for cauliflower stuffing is especially…well, delish. Check it out.
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
It’s the great pumpkin (pie), Charlie Brown. Yes it is, Linus, even when it’s paleo. All of your coworkers on wintertime diets (best of luck to them, but we’ll be tucking in and hibernating until May- cheers) have eschewed some of the tastiest treats of the season. But no one should have to be without pie during these cold November nights. The paleo diet is especially ideal for desserts, because the raw, or near-raw, ingredients are meant to be cold. Paleo Running Momma has an exquisite recipe for a pumpkin pie that will knock your socks off. It is a truly fitting cap to a diverse and interesting Thanksgiving feast.
Before you dive headfirst into these delicacy recipes, we strongly recommend getting a checklist of food types your coworkers can’t consume. Send a company-wide email and ask everyone to respond directly to whomever is organizing the meal. This is important to do first even if the Office Thanksgiving you’re planning…isn’t taking place at the office. Most restaurants can leave out an ingredient or two, if you’re choosing to dine out. Giving them a complete list beforehand is not only courteous, it will help the evening run smoothly.
We at Computhink are so thankful for our readers, our customers, and our partners. We wish you a lovely, tasty Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble!
A version of this article was published as Thanksgiving Dish Alternatives for a Diverse Office on November 22, 2017