Hey Kara, I really like to host people for dinner. How can I do that without leaving everyone in a food coma? -Caroline
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’re not crushing Xanax into everyone’s soup course. Yet, it sounds like you and your guests are still feeling a little dopey by the end of dinner sometimes. Here are some ideas:
The Bevvies: The drinks runneth over at most dinner parties. Do consider adding a little flair to non-alcoholic beverages, too. Infuse a pitcher (or more!) of water with fruit a few hours before guests arrive. Having hydrating beverages readily available and looking delicious will help people stay more alert, even if they are enjoying some adult libations. An herbal digestif, like Fernet Branca or Underberg, can stimulate digestion and add a bitter taste, which helps create a balanced, satisfying meal.
The Mains: While a giant rack of dinosaur ribs might look welcoming on Fred Flintstone’s table, I bet his guests were totally in food comas. The reality is: If you put it on the table, people will often keep eating without thinking, especially if they’re engrossed in stimulating conversation. If serving animal protein, a 4-6 oz. serving (think: deck of cards) could be plated with second helpings available in the kitchen. Now that the weather is warming up, vegetarian main dishes can be incredibly satisfying, too. Whatever you do, don’t scrimp on the good stuff – go organic! At a minimum, look for hormone-free and antibiotic-free options. Your guests’ livers will thank you for it.
The Sides: Casseroles are often Queen at dinner parties because they can be prepped ahead and cooked while the guests are mingling. Many can be sleep-inducing because of insulin-spiking pasta or (for some) the hard-to-digest dairy. Think: More nutrition. More fiber. A brothy vegetable soup, a vegetable puree or a salad can be an excellent starter. Simple roasted veggies take very little prep work, but are incredibly delicious – plain or seasoned. Don’t forget fruit- or veggie-spiked brown rice or quinoa pilafs. Those can also be prepped ahead and served hot or room temperature. (Plus, the leftovers make easily packable lunches.)
The Desserts: Refined flour and sugar, especially at the end of a larger-than-usual meal is going to send your blood sugar into orbit. Then, it will drop through the floor leaving you sleepy. The good news – googling “refined sugar-free dessert” or “raw dessert” can lead you down some amazingly decadent paths. Don’t let the word vegan scare you, either. The modern vegan kitchen has moved way beyond cardboard-like cookies. Again, many of these desserts can be prepped in advance, so you can relax with your guests.
These days, it’s impossible to gather a group together without allergies, intolerances and sensitivities being present. Some guests are totally aware of their needs. Some, unfortunately, don’t know that their favorite food might be leading to seemingly unrelated symptoms – like a food coma. If you aren’t sure how to accommodate your guest, just ask for help. Ask questions or invite them to bring something to match your theme. Being a patient and flexible host will be even more memorable than your fantastic meal. Bon appetite!
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