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Super Bowl Party Food

I have been a lurker on your site for quite some time and I was hoping you could give me some guidance on food for my first major event! It is an informal affair…a super bowl party! I’m excited to have friends and coworkers over to have a good time but I’m concerned about how accommodating I need to be about food.

I am a meat eater, but I do prefer healthier dishes and am planning on having wings, paella, meatballs, sausage/pepper/onion sandwiches, and dim sum (amazing Chinese market close by). I will certainly be respectful with the amount of hot sauce and spiciness but I live in a metropolitan area with a collection of odd eaters…vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and people who are on crazy diets because of their New Year’s resolutions.

How much do I have to cater to their oddness? Special snowflakes abound here and I do want to be a good host, but it is a super bowl party! Is having a salad station sufficient or should I ask my friends to let me know about their special needs in the invitation? If someone comes back with, “I only eat hot sauce on crackers dipped in $100 champagne because of my new diet,” how do I respectfully ask them to bring their own food? Or did I volunteer to provide that by asking if they have special needs?

Thanks for the guidance!   0109-14

Your menu sounds great!   The only thing I would add to balance out the food choices would be my Texas Caviar recipe.   Even meat lovers like it!   And it can be made a day or two in advance.    As for asking people what their “special needs” are, I personally would not venture there because, as you noted, the potential possibilities of taste and preference can be overwhelming to try to cater to each one.  Most people with food allergies will either ask you what you are serving or bring their own snacks.

Texas Caviar

2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 medium jalapeno, minced
¼ small white onion, chopped
1/3 cup Italian dressing
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 tsp. ground red pepper

Combine beans with ingredients. Chill and serve with either corn chips or Carr Water Crackers. Makes 5 cups.  Can be made several days ahead.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Firecat January 13, 2014, 1:31 pm

    I think your menu sounds great, too. I might consider adding a raw veggies and dip tray. If you make (or buy) hummus as one of the available dips, and/or salsa, that could be very vegan friendly. Triangles of pita bread also go really well with hummus.

    A cheese and cracker tray (maybe with some fruit?) could be another popular addition. Maybe some pickles and olives?

    Something sweet might be a nice addition, too, but you know your own crowd best. In terms of the special food needs, I think providing a variety and labelling with ingredients is a good way to go. Then people can make choices based on their own needs.

  • sparq January 13, 2014, 1:42 pm

    It doesn’t sound as though the menu involves healthy options other than a salad station… Crudites with guacamole, crostini rounds and hummus, bowl of olives or nuts are easy healthier veggie-friendly snacks to have around.

  • Lo January 13, 2014, 1:53 pm

    You don’t have go crazy catering to other people. The salad station would be a good compromise for special diets. Everything else you’ve listed has meat or fish in it traditionally except possibly dim sum (which can mean a lot of things) so maybe that’s your vegetarian option?

    Personally with 5 dishes I would make two of them vegetarian. And if you know someone’s a vegan I’d make one vegan option. This should theoretically save you money because veggies and carbs are usually cheaper than meat. Your meat eating friends will probably enjoy some veggies too. I love meat but I won’t pass up a tasty meatless salad if it’s offered to me.

    I love admin’s suggestion of a dish and I have another one. Since you’ll be frying up peppers and onions for sandwiches why no set aside a seperate portion of this with mushrooms in the mix for a veggie sandwich filling to be served on the same bread. I know plenty of omnivores who would prefer this as an option to sausage.

  • JesBelle January 13, 2014, 1:57 pm

    Whenever I have to cook for a mixed blizzard of special snowflakes, I just put out a wide variety of things and let them take whatever their bodies and consciences will allow. The one rule I follow is “no hidden ingredients.” No chicken broth in what looks like an otherwise vegetarian dish, no honey to sweeten vegan foods, no flour-thickened sauces lurking about to trip up the gluten-intolerant. Another good idea is to deconstruct some of the dishes. A sandwich or nacho “bar” allows everyone to cater to their own dietary restrictions.

    If I’m doing an actual sit-down dinner, I’ll go for the deconstruction trick (I once had a dinner with a vegetarian gumbo base that had the sausage, okra, chicken, and shrimp on the side. Everyone doctored according to what they wanted.), or I’ll do the “extra hearty side dish” trick by making a main dish that has meat or fish, but making sure there is a really hearty side dish that the vegetarians can make a meal of.

  • Anonymous January 13, 2014, 1:59 pm

    It might be best to do a “buffet” approach, and have something like make-your-own subs, pitas, tacos, etc., where you put out the buns/pitas/taco shells, and let people fill them up as they wish. Also, think in terms of what people can hold in their hands, without making too much mess. Chicken wings might result in barbecue sauce all over your TV remote.

  • Lindsay January 13, 2014, 2:10 pm

    I would print the menu on the invitation. That way, guests know if they need to bring something additional to suit their diet/lifestyle/voodoo rituals.

  • Mae January 13, 2014, 2:14 pm

    I think you have a good variety of meat dishes but I second @Firecat & sparq and would have veggies, nuts, dips, and crackers/breads available as well. I like meat but sometimes you have to have a few vegetables to balance out. Especially if you have vegan or vegetarian friends who will be attending.

    Most people will ask/tell you if they have special food considerations. If you state that in the invitation, you will surely get at least 1 hot sauce/crackers/champagne reply.

  • ERHR January 13, 2014, 2:30 pm

    I am a clean eater the vast majority of the time and that is rare in my social circles. I NEVER show up at a party expecting to be fed, even a long party like for the super bowl. If I want to eat something at the party, as opposed to just filling up beforehand, I’ll bring a snack to share that I can partake in. I think this is a pretty common approach among people who have unusual or strict diets. Sharing your provided snacks in advance is a great idea, and also be open to people adding to the selection.

  • ArtsBeatLA January 13, 2014, 2:32 pm

    I think this was a really well-thought out question, especially the part about “Or did I volunteer to provide [special foods] by asking if they have special needs?”

    Hosting a party can be daunting if you’re inexperienced.

    This letter is really interesting because it highlights how out of control it can sometimes get when catering to guests and their assorted peccadilloes.

    Basically, everyone here is right and has some excellent suggestions — put out a spread of food you want to serve, that factors in a few things for vegetarians (Miss Jeanne’s (sp?) Texas Chili is a fantastic suggestion for a big party as almost anyone can enjoy it) and if anyone has so little class that they moan or get anxious about the buffet, then they are more than welcome to bring their own food along.

    JesBelle’s rule of “no hidden ingredients” is especially considerate and important. I do this as well. If a meal appears to be vegetarian or vegan, it *is* thoroughly vegetarian or vegan.

  • DGS January 13, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Sounds delicious, and many of the other posters suggestions are also great. You might throw in a tub of hummus with pita triangles or chips or a raw crudite tray or fruit tray, and you’re all set!

  • Angeldrac January 13, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Um, why are we referring to people who have food allergies/intolerances and people who have made ethical decisions about their food choices as “special snowflakes”?

  • ArtsBeatLA January 13, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Additionally, I’ll share a related story. I joined a small group of about 15 members and attended an annual function (my first as a new member) that was catered really poorly. We’re talking platters of squished, unappetising-looking sandwiches of meat and cheese on white bread that were packed for easy transport rather than for appealing presentation. I was especially horrified because one of the (15) members was vegan and there was nothing at all for him to eat. I didn’t eat either because the food just looked so gross.

    So, I took it upon myself to oversee the catering the following year. (We all take on tasks each year, and this was a big one. I stepped up.)

    I got several quotes and ended up with a local gal who has her own catering biz. I stipulated that the food was to be 50% vegan. Well, you should have heard the grizzles and gripes about that! I assured everyone there would be plenty of delicious food for everyone – members and guests, alike – and stuck to my plan, also taking on board suggestions (members said they loved these enchiladas they had one year – from some other caterer…)

    Well, the whole event was a major success. Everyone RAVED about the food, which was mostly healthy and delicious — comprising of 50% vegan, 50% non-vegan options. Home-made houmous of three varieties, including a gorgeous-looking roasted beet one and a pale green edamame one; “pinwheel” lavash wrap sandwich bites with roasted vegetable and green curry quinoa inside; vegetarian fresh spring rolls (not fried) with raspberry vinaigrette sauce; enchiladas; meatballs on sticks with fabulous dipping sauces; cold shrimp platter; crudites and dips and cheeses; etc etc

    Plus, her quote for the event came in at 1/3 the cost of the other catering quotes I obtained.

  • Fiona G January 13, 2014, 2:54 pm

    Why not just invite only people who eat what you are serving? That way you won’t have to cater to the “special snowflakes,” “oddness” or “crazy diets.” But seriously…we all make choices as to what we put into our bodies. Some people care more than others. My advice to you would be to serve what you have listed, and if anyone can’t or won’t eat it, then you can cheerfully suggest that they bring a dish they CAN eat, and would like to share with the rest of the party. Problem solved!

  • NostalgicGal January 13, 2014, 2:57 pm

    As host, it’s good to put out a mix, and it sounds like the OP is well on the way to that. To stop special-snowflake-ism, I’d also encourage everyone to bring something to share, and indicate how many portions/people to bring for. I would assume that whatever someone brought they could also eat as they made it the way they like it… when I have issues on what might I be served, I bring a big pot/bowl/casserole of what I can eat made the way I have to have it; and if all else fails, stick to what I brought.

    Don’t ASK for special diet needs on the invite; you’ll get someone that’s on a caviar and kobe beef diet for sure.

  • kingsrings January 13, 2014, 2:57 pm

    I think that the majority of people with food allergies and issues will take care of themselves. Most of them know by now what they can and can’t have, and will prepare for such. I agree that if you do send an email, you’re going to get a flurry of different responses along the lines of “I can’t have this”, “I can’t have that”, etc. What a headache that would be trying to accommodate it all! Don’t worry, they’re the ones with the issues, let them accommodate themselves for the most part.

  • Magicdomino January 13, 2014, 3:06 pm

    I’m a meat-eater myself, but would welcome a bowlful of grapes, garlic hummus, and a platter of raw vegetables, if only to quiet down my conscience. 🙂 That Texas cavier sounds really good too.

  • clairedelune January 13, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I agree with the veggies/dips/crackers thing as well, and not just to accommodate a variety of diets, but because it’s nice to have some easy/non-messy finger foods at big parties where lots of people are eating with plates on their laps or while standing up.

    Everything you have planned sounds really delicious, though! Wish I were there. 🙂

  • Aliciaspinnet January 13, 2014, 3:21 pm

    I don’t think it’s fair to lump vegetarians/vegans and people with food allergies in with people who are following a fad diet. Food restrictions for reasons of health or ethics are very different in my
    mind to someone who is just being fussy – and I say that as someone who is both a fussy eater and coeliac! I would never expect a host to cater to my fussiness, but if invited for dinner I would ask in advance if there could be gluten free options.

    I’m currently planning my wedding and plan on asking people re special dietary needs (I know there’ll be multiple coeliacs, vegetarians, non beef eaters (for religious reasons) – maybe I’ll get some irritating answers, but I’d prefer that over having my loved ones go hungry on my wedding day. My little sister is coeliac and vegan and one of the first thing I asked caterers was whether they could accommodate this, if they said no I wouldn’t have used them.

  • Marozia January 13, 2014, 3:30 pm

    What a considerate host you are to think of everybody’s dietary habits!! Just love the Texas Caviar recipe, sounds divine!
    I think the buffet idea sounds fantastic with cold cuts and salads and a vegetarian curry. I also like the DIY sandwiches idea.
    Good luck and have fun!

  • Isabelle January 13, 2014, 3:52 pm

    I’d say to let people know what you plan on having and, if they have specific foods that they want/need, they can bring something too. There’s only so much you can do.

  • Rap January 13, 2014, 3:55 pm

    First, it already sounds delicious! Second, if you’re looking for something everyone would like, it’s possible to make meatless chili that is incredibly flavorfull. I live in a meat loving place but but coworkers always ask for my “dolphin free” chili, knowing it has no meat but just liking the taste. Plus, meat eaters can doctor it up with sour cream and cheese as they like.

    I also second the hummus and veggies and bowls of nuts.

  • kolobok January 13, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Instead of asking about “special needs” (which seems a bit too all encompassing for my taste), I usually ask if there are any allergies. This way you could avoid any ingredients that may cause a severe reaction (i.e. nuts) and/or ensure that there’s at least one major dish that could be eaten by that person. (Only being able to have raw veggies without dip is really no fun). Generally, the people I know with really extensive lists bring their own food, but as someone with several allergies myself, I really appreciate the thought and effort when a host goes out of their way to ensure that I can eat at least one of the main dishes.

    Also, I’m not sure if you have any friends who are gluten intolerant, but your menu seems to lack options for those people, as gluten can hide in a lot of places that you don’t expect (sausage, sauces, coatings, binding for the meatballs, etc).

    While on the subject of gluten intolerance, could I kindly suggest to EH readers that they be conscious of dips and always spoon a bit onto their plates? If someone can’t have gluten and you dip a piece of pita directly into the hummus, someone with extreme sensitivity (Celiac disease) can’t eat that hummus anymore or, if he/she didn’t see the cross-contamination and then eats the dip after, he/she risks becoming painfully ill.

  • WillyNilly January 13, 2014, 4:14 pm

    Like most others I suggest having at least one vegetarian offering. Salad is good, but a veggie tray or the Admin’s recipe are probably easier (I do a similar recipe except I do 1 can beans, 1 can drained corn kernels) and more “Super Bowl”-ish. I will also say the recipe not only [i]can[/i] be made a day or two in advance, but actually [i]tastes better[/i] when made earlier. I also agree a buffet is the best way to serve things, with items as deconstructed as possible – this allows people to pick and choose: the veggie or picky eater can take some bread, and the no carbs or gluten free eater can take the sausage/pepper/onion filling and everyone else can make sandwiches of the two.
    An easy veggie dish I like to do is stuffed jalapenos: shred some cheddar or jack cheese, mix with cream cheese and stuff inside de-seeded jalapenos. You can bake them as is, or dip them in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, and then bake. Works well with low fat cheese as well.
    I also agree you shouldn’t bother to open the can of worms of asking about food restrictions, at least not formally (do it in casual conversation if it comes naturally). People will bring it up themselves, or will bring a dish that meets their requirements.

  • Mer January 13, 2014, 4:27 pm

    If you do want to ask, ask directly about allergies. Not dietary restrictions/food considerations or something like that, but straight out allergies. Maybe not in the invite but by chatting up with your friends. I have to admit, I’ve never gotten “hot sauce, crackers and caviar” answer, I wonder who would do that. For closer friends it is of course useful to memorize their allergies if possible.

    I advice to ask about allergies, because sometimes it can be so easy to do a suitable dish by just leaving some single ingredient out, like take a bit of salad to a separate bowl before adding apple to the rest. Or doing a set of cookies before mixing nuts in the dough. And if you can be much better host and considerate friend by doing that, it is win for you and your guest.

    Allergies are also good to know in the sense that you can appropriately warn if dish might contain said allergen as you are more aware about them while cooking. If you know that your friend is badly allergic to pineapple, you can easily and consciously check your ingredients for that. “I didn’t add any pineapple” does not help if the salsa you used had pineapple juice in it. What I try badly communicate is, that when you know, it’s easy to check and easy to remember. If you have no idea what you are looking for, it’s very easy to miss something.

  • Tori January 13, 2014, 4:31 pm

    A fruit and veggie tray would give a nice healthy/vegetarian option. Maybe a pasta dish (red sauce not meat) would be a good entree type item for those who prefer no meat but aren’t too concerned with calories. A salad bar would be better for those who are watching their weight tho…

  • Cat January 13, 2014, 5:11 pm

    I am with Firecat and Mae. If you add some fruit, cheese and crackers, you will have covered all the bases anyone could expect. Odd diets that suit only one person are best followed at home. I would not expect my host to cater to me.
    You sound like a great person who is doing his/her best to make your guests comfortable.

  • mechtilde January 13, 2014, 5:13 pm

    JesBelle’s advice about “No hidden ingredients” is really good.

  • Jojo January 13, 2014, 5:42 pm

    Ooh the Texas Caviar sounds nice. And the OP’s menu sounds very comprehensive.
    As a seasoned host, I’ve recently decided to cut back on the food – I’m now only going to make things I can cook in advance and then freeze afterwards or give to people to take home as they leave so I’m not swamped with leftovers.
    The last event I hosted, I made a large vat of hearty, mild chilli and a large vat of veggie chilli ( vegan recipe) that people could help themselves to – on the side were fresh cut veggies, guacamole, tortilla chips, flour tortillas, grated cheese and a couple of degrees of hot sauces that chilli fiends could add. I left them all to help themselves and mix and match as they saw fit.
    It worked really well for us and minimised the prep and clean up time afterwards (I made the chilli the night before, opened a few packets and arranged them in fancy bowls, heated the tortillas, got a guest to mash the avocados just before serving and voila!). But then I do have lots and lots of crockery and ladles, which makes that sort of thing super easy.
    My aunt is brilliant at hosting large events, and taking a leaf out of her book, if you’re doing a Super Bowl party, may I suggest you borrow or buy a fridge just for drinks and have it in the same room as the game with glasses placed on or beside it? Then people can help themselves rather than wandering through your kitchen looking through cupboards and getting in the way of your food prep.

  • Alex January 13, 2014, 6:01 pm

    I am not sure it is really nice to call people special snowflakes just because their diets may be different from yours… but I would suggest having at least 2 non-meat dishes. I eat meat but don’t eat a ton of it and I know people like having non-meat options to snack on as well. I think the suggestions of veggie and fruit tray, crackers, hummus, pasta salad are all great options. It is good to just make it a good mix of items unless you want to only invite people who eat like you do.

  • Rap January 13, 2014, 6:12 pm

    “Um, why are we referring to people who have food allergies/intolerances and people who have made ethical decisions about their food choices as “special snowflakes”?”

    Because while some people can be polite about their special dietary needs, unfortuneatly some people can’t and make scenes about issues that a host might not have considered, thereby making everyone uncomfortable.

    Having a food allergy or making an ethical choice does not necessarily mean that the person with the special dietary needs handles their need with grace and composure. Sorry, but I have sat thru too many long winded rants about veganism and how I was supposed to know that person x can’t be within a thousand yards of a peanut without dying to assume that no one with an allergy or a dietary restriction has ever acted badly.

    Particularly with allergies – if you have an allergy and are invited to a party in someone’s home and shellfish makes you die… and you *never* mention this and the host neglects to ask – the host owns some of it but if you’re an adult, you own some of it as well. We don’t come with labels on our foreheads. As a host, I want my guests to have a good time and I LOVE knowing if someone has a serious allergy or really won’t eat meat.

    I do think, and the OP can correct me, that they were referring more to people on odd or unusual diets like ATkins, or the prehistoric diet.

  • Miss-E January 13, 2014, 6:12 pm

    I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life and I have never, ever gone to an event expecting to be catered to. Usually there is something that I can eat without issue but every once in a while I find myself with absolutely zero food options and you know what I do?


    I suck it up and eat when I get home. I would never dare complain to a host and I think that anyone who does is rude beyond belief. It’s my choice not to eat meat, not yours. So, it’s kind of you to be considerate but don’t stress yourself out too much.

    I recently had an Xmas party where two of my guests have really crazy diets (no gluten, no dairy, excludes certain veggies and fruits) so I made sure to come up with dishes that they could safely eat. They’ve eaten at my place before and know that I always accommodate them and yet…they showed up with sushi! No, not a platter of sushi for the crowd, sushi for themselves…that they dug into before dinner was served…sat right in the living room, digging into plastic take-away trays with wooden chopsticks…they even left the bag and garbage on the table (and this was a good-dishes-nice-silverware kind of dinner party).

  • Leahto comb January 13, 2014, 6:23 pm

    On the one hand, as a guest, I never expect a host to cater to my desires/intolerances/fads/preferences. I eat what I feel I can eat, graciously thank the host, and eat more before/after if need be.
    That said, as a host, I really feel it’s my duty to keep my guests comfortable as much as reasonably possible. My DH & I eat mostly paleo, though we’re very flexible (80/20, and realistic about the limitations) & don’t expect to be catered to. He has family who are gluten intolerant, I have family members who are vegan, close friends who are vegetarian but picky about vegetables, and a mom & sister who eat kosher. Planning a wedding, I did my absolute best to make sure everyone felt like their needs were considered. Was I going completely change my vision or go above budget? Nope. But I managed to make sure all the needs of my friends & family were considered (FTR, no one asked me for special considerations). I felt like that was my duty as a host, and I was more than happy to do it.
    Honestly, the tone of this post rubs me a bit the wrong way. You can accommodate 98% of your guests, by simply ensuring you have a fruit & veggie tray, a hummus dip with pitas (or similar dip/dipper combo) and maybe a meat & cheese tray. Those are really easy, fairly cheap additions to a spread that will cover almost all dietary restrictions. I just can’t imagine thinking people close enough to me to invite over for a get together are “special snowflakes” for not eating the way I do (I’ve hosted a vegetarian for a week, and I found meals that would make everyone here happy…and, like I said, we eat paleo which is not very compatible with vegetarianism). Honestly, if my host felt that way about my food choices (as long as I played the part of a gracious guest & didn’t complain no matter what was offered- that’s an important distinction), I wouldn’t really want to attend an event hosted by him/her.

  • Leah January 13, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Don’t know how “to comb” got added to my name lol 🙂

  • koolchicken January 13, 2014, 7:03 pm

    If you’re concerned about catering to certain diets or real issues like allergies I reccomend keeping things as separate as possible and cut veggies are a good menu item that’s safe for most everyone (all the top eight major allergens) and are vegetarian/vegan. Then just keep bottles of salad dressing on hand so people can pour out what they want onto their plate. It totally eliminates cross contamination issues and having the bottle on hand let’s people see the ingredients and brand. Mary’s Gone Crackers are a great tasting cracker brand that’s gluten, dairy, and a new one that’s soy free (no one will ever know). Really the biggest thing is just keeping packages on hand so those with allergies can check the info and determine if what they want to eat is safe. Frito Lay and Kraft are great about allergen labeling on their packages and it’s easy to look up online just to double check.

    Other than that I think you’re covered. Serve what you want, it’s your party. I can’t eat gluten and frequently have to bring my own food to things or just abstain. These people are adults, they’ll be fine.

  • Elizabeth January 13, 2014, 7:04 pm

    Any considerate friend or family member with special food needs or on a crazy diet should ask if they can bring a dish, and bring the dish that fits their needs with enough for others to try it too. The person that shows up, empty-handed and with food demands shouldn’t be on next year’s guest list.

    Oh, and go Pats (b/c that is one of the teams I expect to be playing).

  • Dee January 13, 2014, 7:06 pm

    I don’t understand why the OP is being taken to task for trying to prevent special-snowflake-behaviour at her party. That she has encountered some rude people on this subject before is not her fault, and that she wants to avoid that behaviour is commendable, including the fact that she is going out of her way to accommodate special diets when she doesn’t have to. If a guest has dietary restrictions nobody ever has to know, unless it is for health reasons, and even then the pronouncement doesn’t need to be anything more than a quiet query regarding ingredients. That a guest may not like or want to eat a particular food isn’t a concern of anyone else besides the guest. If their behaviour suggests that others should accommodate them when it is simply a preference, not a health issue, then they clearly earn the title of special snowflake. And the OP is in her right for not wanting anyone’s rudeness to undermine her party. Sheesh. Didn’t we all learn our table manners as kids?

  • Cathy January 13, 2014, 7:20 pm

    What Lindsay said…if you let them know in advance what you’re planning to serve they can plan accordingly and either BYO or let you know if they need something. I’m having a big Christmas party this December and that’s what I plan to do. We’re having my “hodge podge” pasta made 3 ways – vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore. Plus salad and garlic bread. It’s easy and hopefully will please everyone, including me (gluten-free, dairy-free).

  • Cathy January 13, 2014, 7:32 pm

    I’d also like to say that I eat paleo but I don’t expect hosts to cater to me either…and when I’m at someone else’s house, I eat whatever they’re serving as far as it fits into my plan, and then if I’m still hungry I’ll eat something when I get home. I can’t stand food Nazis who expect everyone to change their menu to suit whatever plan they’re on…it’s rude. I’d never make a scene at a party. If they ask, I tell people what I can and can’t eat, and if I know there won’t be a lot of options I bring something with me or eat beforehand. It’s best to be prepared if you choose to eat differently from the average person.

  • JeanLouiseFinch January 13, 2014, 7:48 pm

    The fruit & veggie tray option sounds like a good idea. I always have some cheese and crackers out too since chees absorbs a lot of blood alcohol. Make sure to have something non-alcoholic to drink as well. If you’re from Colorado, make sure sure you have some cookies and brownies at the end of the evening, and never mind all of the people stepping outside periodically and coming back in giggling!

  • The Elf January 13, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian all have one thing in common: no animal products. With that degree of overlap, if you do anything it should be for the vegan. Can’t do much for the “crazy diet” part without knowing specifications. It would be nice if you could throw in a vegan-friendly dish, but you don’t have to. I like the pita & hummus combo and veggie sticks the best.

    For the guest: If you’re on a special diet, and it’s a casual affair, then you should call the host and ask what’s on the menu and if it would be okay to bring a dish. The more restrictive the diet, the more you should be prepared to tend to your own needs.

    For the host: The longer the event, the more you should at least make the attempt to cater to dietary specifications. Superbowl starts after the dinner hour, so guests could easily eat whatever they want for dinner and then just snack (or not snack) at your place. So you certainly don’t have to go out of your way. But seeing everyone munch and having an empty plate kind of blows for 4+ hours (longer if there’s a power outage again this year). So it would be nice to have something.

  • missminute January 13, 2014, 8:19 pm

    I have friends with similar diets and to me that while it’s a good menu, it does seem there is not enough vegie options on your menu. You need a big feature dish that is vegie. The Texas Caviar sounds great for that. Five-layer or seven layer dip can be a great vege option too and you can make a huge tub and serve with tortilla chips. A salad station is great – include olives, nuts and crudites as well as dips. The Asian deli should have some yummy vegetarian spring rolls and dumplings too.

  • Pinkiu January 13, 2014, 8:25 pm

    Every Super Bowl party I’ve ever gone to had the guest contribute to the food by bringing a dish as well. I wouldn’t worry about healthy choices. It’s a sports party. If you had a couple of healthy and veggie options, that should satisfy everyone.

  • Acadianna January 13, 2014, 9:34 pm

    I love Texas caviar! Instead of chopping the veggies, though, I just add a tub of prepared pico de gallo. Makes this marvelous dish even easier to make! (I also use only one can of black beans, but add a can of black-eyed peas.)

    • admin January 14, 2014, 9:16 am

      Wow, adding prepared pico de gallo does sound like it would make it faster to make. Can’t wait to try that.

  • Sarah Peart January 13, 2014, 9:56 pm

    @angeldrac – The truth is the majority of people who are on restricted diets for allergies, religious reasons etc are accomodating – bring their own food, eat the raw vegetable sticks with no dip, stick to water etc and make like they are having the time of their lives and are well fed and watered. There are however “special snowflake” people who expect you to centre the meal around their allergies, religious diet, new diet (I am not knocking them – but every year has a superfood, for instance this year it is apparently buckwheat and often a food to avoid) or they are trying to lose weight/detox. They complain unless they are given a range of foods – as if they are at home or paying in a hotel or restaurant! Not to mention people of my social circle who are “wheat intolerant” when at parties but eat sandwiches for convenience at home – “Because once in a while does not hurt”. In summary the people you listed are rarely “special snowflakes” but some are!

  • Angela January 13, 2014, 11:01 pm

    This does sound good. A dish we make for potlucks is this one http://www.thesisterscafe.com/2009/01/sesame-chicken-asparagus-pasta-2 although it originally came from the Silver Palate New Basics cookbook. If you leave out the chicken, it is vegan and most everyone loves it. It’s good at room temp as well.

  • NostalgicGal January 14, 2014, 1:01 am

    I have run the gamut… weird allergies but very real to me; diet restrictions, first for religion then for doctor orders. (I am a medical vegan, not a moral one, I would much rather have the nice slab of seared steak thank you).

    I have learned, if in doubt bring my own. Bring more to share, but bring something I know I can eat; and if I have to, pre portion myself some first in my own container before even packing the food up to bring it.

    By same context, if you are at a buffet…
    NEVER pick up anything with your fingers. Use the tongs, the spoon, etc. If you are setting the buffet ALWAYS put out serving utensils for everything and make sure they don’t look like the silverware (flat, fancy, plastic) being offered as well.
    NEVER dip anything (finger, food, or your personal eating utensils) into bulk food meant to be portioned or shared by others.
    If you have a nasal drip don’t wipe your nose with hand then reach for the tongs…
    Cover your mouth and turn your head away if you are going to sneeze!
    Once you take it don’t put it back.
    Don’t cross serving utensils from one food to another.
    IF it’s been labeled or segregated because it’s (vegetarian, or no honey or no peanuts or no shellfish, etc) then don’t take any if you know it’s been provided specially and you’re not one of the ones with the need. Nothing like being vegetarian and getting to your turn and finding others took the special food, so there’s nothing to eat.
    If the kid is below the age of know better, supervise them!
    Never put anything on someone’s plate unless they ask you to, ever! This crosses into possible contaminating someone’s plate with an allergen….
    NEVER reach for anything on someone else’s plate with fingers, personal fork, etc. If they agree to a ‘taste’ or to share, have them transfer it to your plate. Again the bit with possibly contaminating their food with an allergen.

    A good host/hostess tries to accommodate their guests, but it should also be within reason. If nobody knows you have the allergy; don’t spring it at the event. Prepare for it yourself.

  • sweetonsno January 14, 2014, 4:01 am

    I agree with previous posters that it’s uncharitable to refer to folks with restrictions as “special snowflakes” or say that they have “odd diets.” Passing judgment on someone for what they eat isn’t polite, no matter what your motivation. To people who consider dogs pets, those who eat them are “weird” or “cruel.” To people who consider them food, those who keep them as pets may be “odd” or “overly sentimental.” It’s just the way that it is.

    A generous salad station is perfectly fine, but there are snacks and dishes that you could make that would appeal to everyone and maybe even be more Super Bowl-appropriate. Previous posters have already suggested a veggie plate with a couple of dips. You could have a sandwich bar. You could have a baked potato bar (BYOP?). How about a crockpot of chili? You could have one meat and one vegetarian. Nacho bar? All of these things can be made healthy (and doctored decadent, depending on what toppers are available).

    JesBelle’s rule is also a must when catering to people who have different dietary needs. Make sure there isn’t any culinary dissembling. Label ingredients that might be no-nos. I think the big ones are: dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, meat (because of allergy concerns, be specific about seafood- fish/shellfish), nuts. To make it easy on yourself, print off the recipe/ingredients list and just put it near the table so people can look at it.

  • Kirsten January 14, 2014, 4:20 am

    There’s quite a lot of people jumping to conclusions here. The OP NEVER called anyone on a special diet a ‘special snowflake’.

    S/he said that a) a lot of her friends have specific diets, and b) there are special snowflakes abounding.

    Those are two completely separate statements. Making the jump that a = b is not fair to be OP and doesn’t even follow logic. It’s obvious from her wording that SOME of the people invited are ‘special snowflakes’, as given in the example about crackers and champagne, regardless of what they eat, and because she wants to be accommodating of her friends’ diets, she isn’t sure where to draw a line with the SS types.

    Saying you wouldn’t want to attend the event because of those two statements? Wow. I don’t think I’d want a friend so eager to take offence and think ill of me that they’d jump to those conclusions based on that evidence.

  • Anonymous January 14, 2014, 9:26 am

    I agree with the others who say that it’s not fair to place food allergies, religious restrictions, or even moral/ethical restrictions, in the “special snowflake” category. I abstain from animal products as well, and I’d be offended if someone called me a “special snowflake” for it. Then again, I also don’t like football, so I wouldn’t attend a Super Bowl party even if there was food there that I could eat, so YMMV. In my case, let’s say that it was a movie night or similar. In that case, I’d either bring something to share, or I’d be prepared for the “animal products in everything” scenario (which is rare), by not arriving hungry. However, if someone called me a special snowflake just for HAVING different eating habits than they do, I wouldn’t stay friends with that person for very much longer.

  • AMC January 14, 2014, 9:50 am

    As a vegetarian, I’ve never asked a host make special accomodations for my diet. I make due with what’s offered or bring a meatless dish with me.

    However, if you are looking suggestions for vegan/vegetarian dishes, I would recommend serving hummus w/ pita chips. You can usually find hummus in the deli section of your grocery store.