Dishes for all: Inclusive holiday meals to please every diet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 28, 2019

By Hannah Hemphill

Rowan Public Library

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather together with family and friends over a laboriously prepared and often stress-inducing meal. With a variety of diets, allergies and sensitivities prevalent, cooking for a large group starts to present challenges that make you reconsider your family recipes that have been passed down. I

f you want to cater to these relatives and friends, Rowan Public Library has you covered with a variety of cookbook and recipe suggestions that will please everyone.

Allergy and gluten-free

There are many reasons why a relative might have a dietary restriction, but one of the easiest to sympathize with are those related to allergens. RPL has several cookbooks devoted to allergy-free meals, including “Cooking Allergy-Free,” by Jenna Short and a series of cookbooks by Katrina Jorgensen, which are targeted towards allergies common among children, such as gluten, nuts and soy.

“Cooking Allergy-Free” is a particularly useful title because each recipe comes with a key that easily identifies which dish is appropriate based on the allergen. Additionally, many recipes come with a “variation” sidebar that identifies substitutions. Intriguing recipes include sweet potato soup topped with buttered pecans, green beans with toasted walnuts and cherry vinaigrette, and apple spiced cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.


Keto is another diet that a lot of your relatives might follow to help reset their metabolism, lose weight and improve their health. This low-carb diet still has a lot of options that you can include on your menu. “Simply Keto,” by Suzanne Ryan, includes a helpful key on each recipe that identifies items that might also be good for those with other restrictions, such as nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, as well as recipes that only take 30 minutes to prepare. Look for crowd pleasing recipes like bacon and ranch chicken salad, twice baked cauliflower casserole, and snickerdoodle cupcakes.


Many of our favorite holiday dishes become problematic for people who avoid meat and other animal products. The library has a variety of cookbooks for both vegetarians, who avoid meat, but still eat eggs and dairy, and vegans, who stay away from all animal products.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz creates fabulous recipes in her cookbooks, including “The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook” and in “Veganomicon,” coauthored with Terry Hope Romero. “Veganomicon,” is particularly great because it has easy to read icons at the top of each recipe to identify soy free, low-fat, gluten-free and quick meals. Choice recipes from “Veganomicon, include BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls, Yuca Shepherd’s Pie and Pumpkin Cranberry Scones.

Holiday closings: Headquarters (Salisbury), East Branch (Rockwell), and South Rowan Regional (China Grove) will be closed today and Friday. Regular hours resume Nov. 30.

Cards for a Cause: Through Dec. 18, headquarters, East and South. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to active service members in the U.S. armed forces and to veterans at the Hefner VAMC in Salisbury. Patrons can specify  their card(s) be delivered to a certain branch or to the VA. The deadline has passed for cards submitted for armed forces internationally; Dec. 6 is the deadline for cards distributed stateside. Cards submitted Dec. 7-18 will only be delivered to the VA. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Gingerbread House Workshop: Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-noon, East. Families are welcome to attend this free program. Work together to create a gingerbread house. All supplies will be provided. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Registration is required and space is limited. To register and for more information, call Tammie at 704-216-7842.

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Now through-Dec. 23, East. On the first day of Christmas, I saw at my library 12 books wrapped for a reader like me! Check out 12, pre-wrapped children’s books and have a surprise for each day before the holidays. This exciting spin on your regular check-out routine is available through Dec. 23. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Scavenger Hunt: Holidays Around the World Dec. 2-30, headquarters and South. Can you find all of the symbols from all of the winter holidays that are celebrated around the world? Complete the challenge and get a prize! For more information, call 704-216-8234.

At East Dec. 2-31, Santa and his elves help to make the library a cheerful place. Find all the characters and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Selections from “The Nutcracker”: Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m., headquarters. Rowan Public Library and members of the Salisbury Symphony present dance selections from Piedmont Dance Theatre’s “The Nutcracker Ballet.” Light refreshments will be served. This special after-hours event is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome; a responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more information, call 704-216-8234.

Robojo Holiday Theatre: Dec. 7, 2 p.m., headquarters. RoBoJo Theatre Troupe returns to RPL for the 22nd annual presentation of Holiday Theatre. A group of talented local actors will join Headquarters’ Mr. Robert to perform an hour-long variety show that features skits, songs, reader’s theater and audience participation. All ages are welcome; a responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Questions? Call 704-216-8234.

Char’s Stars: Fairy Tale Tea Party, Nov. 30, 11 a.m., headquarters. Children ages 12 and under may dress up as their favorite fairy tale character and listen to a special storytime. Light refreshments will be served. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more details, call 704-216-8234.

Personal digital archiving: Dec. 2, 6-7 p.m., headquarters. Learn how to manage and preserve your personal digital collections such as pictures from your mobile phone, tablet or computer to keep as family treasures for years to come. Want to find a way to begin scanning and saving digital copies of receipts, emails, social media posts and other important records? Join this open discussion for best practices and tools to get started with your personal digital archiving. Handouts will be available. Questions? Call 704-216-8242.

Displays: Headquarters, Photowalk at Catawba College, presented by Paul Birkhead also Rowan Helping Ministries display; East, “It’s a Wonderful Life Village,” by Tammy Foster; South, Christmas Dolls — History of Rowan County, Rowan Doll Society.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.