Walking on Eggshells in the Holiday Kitchen

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Festivus the weeks leading up to the end of the year are often a precarious time for the politically correct crowd. How do you greet people on street? Which coworkers are added to your “holiday” card mailing list? Who gets invited to your party? Contemplating all the various ways to offend during the holiday season can give you heartburn.

So what should you cook for your next epic holiday gathering? You’ve navigated the customary courtesies and invited the right people. You’ve gathered a vanilla, secular and non-denominational assortment of decorations and the playlist on your iPod is set up with enough bland, inoffensive country and adult contemporary seasonal music to choke an elevator. You’re all set for guests to arrive.

But wait, you forgot about the various dietary restrictions, culturally specific foods and the non GMO organic requirements of your guest list. It’s one thing to be walking on eggshells in the kitchen, especially if you’re baking a cake. But you may find yourself “walking on eggshells” in your kitchen in an attempt to sidestep any possible offenses by way of the buffet table.

Here are a few tips to putting out an amazing, guilt free and United Nations approved spread for your next Holiday event:

It’s Easy Being Green-  It can’t be said often enough, vegetables are great. In all cases, you can always please a crowd with vegetables. Whether it’s a traditional crudite of celery sticks and carrots or a more hipster friendly collection of Easter egg radishes and heirloom baby tomatoes, it’s very easy to find organic choices that will please the crowd. [Super secret Tip: Have at least one locally grown vegetable that you can tell a story about. Make everyone think you know the farmer personally. You’ll earn extra “pretentious points” and be the source for a lot of good office gossip on Monday.”]

Vegan-Schmeegan- Killing animals is cruel! Or so say the set of folks who have yet to experience Benton’s Hickory Smoked Country Bacon. Those animals are downright delicious. But I digress, pleasing a vegan is simple. Make a couple of friendly substitutions like hummus in place of a dairy based dip, pita chips tossed in olive oil and smoked paprika instead of bacon. A vegetarian based chili bar with soy based sour cream or a platter of falafel make for a great vegan friendly selection.

My Diet Starts on New Year’s Day-  You can’t forget the sweets. Whether it’s rugelach for the Hanukkah party or pecan pie for Festivus, there is sure to be a dessert lover amongst your guests. Anything fruit based is usually a good safe bet. Making some great individually sized meringues topped with baked apples and brown sugar or some berries that have been macerated in some sugar and vanilla can go a long way to satisfying your most finicky eater.

Double Down on Your Drink Selection- If you’re smart you try and cover all the bases. Wines in both red and white, beer in both light and heavy, vodka in both plastic and glass bottles. Wait, huh? This may seem shifty, but why spend the high dollar on top shelf liquor for your party when you can make yourself look like a world class mixologist. The craft bar trend is sweeping the nation. Make up a couple of standbys like a whisky sour made from freshly squeezed limes or a great batch of white sangria with autumn fruits. Nobody will ever know that your bottle had a tomahawk on it; just be sure to hide the evidence way down at the bottom of the recycle bin.

It’s probably the most stressful time of the year for almost everyone. You have gifts to buy, cards to send and family to navigate. On top of all that is the bevy of office parties to make an appearance at. The key to winning this time of year is to keep everything in perspective and eat as many cookies as you can before the new year diet routine kicks in. The heavier you are on December 31st the more dramatic the weight loss will be on March 1. Follow this guide to ensure you keep off the eggshells this year.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of On The Town Magazine

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