Friday, December 16, 2011

How Innkeepers Can Be Creative When Guests Have Dietary Needs

Over the seventeen years that we have been innkeepers, we have been challenged with many guest dietary needs.  In the beginning we were frazzled.  As we became more experienced, we embraced the challenge.

Several years ago we had a guest who, upon her arrival, she presented us a business card listing all of the food she was allergic to.  We told her “no problem.”  We were either able to change the dish we were serving to all guests, change the recipe, or make something different just for her (we could always make her an omelet).

Lately, many guests are on a vegan diet, have celiac disease (a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats), or may be both gluten and lactose intolerant. 

While on an assignment in Southern California, we had a couple stay with us who were on a strict vegan diet.  They were concerned as to whether I could accommodate their dietary needs.  My response was…of course I can!

Did you know that most extra firm tofu, does not contain wheat (but check the back for ingredients, just to be sure), and can be used in a variety of vegan and gluten free recipes.   If you crumble the tofu and season it with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and turmeric (the turmeric will stain the tofu yellow, and then add it to sautéed vegetables of your choice, the presentation looks and tastes like scrambled eggs.  The guests were thrilled with the presentation – they even asked for the recipe. 

This last summer, while on assignment at the Carr Manor ( in Cripple Creek Colorado (, we prepared an overnight, Blueberry Strata French Toast for a Sunday morning breakfast.  That afternoon, when one of the guests arrived, we were informed that his wife just found out that she had celiac disease.  Being that this was a new illness, she was just learning about food she could eat.  She said to just giver some fruit and maybe some eggs.  I told her that I could do better that that. 

I made her an individual Blueberry Strata French Toast using gluten free bread instead of French bread.  She was thrilled that she could eat the same dish as her husband.  She now learned that she could continue making some of her favorite recipes which require bread, but could substitute the type of bread used. 

So now I come to the issue of milk substitutes.  If you are looking for a product that is lactose free you can use Silk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk.  However, if you need a product that is gluten free you are limited to Silk.  I have done some research with the product Lactaid.  Some people with celiac disease and/or lactose intolerance are experiencing some adverse reactions with Lactaid.  I would talk to your health care provider before using Lactaid in your cooking.

Peanut and nut allergies are another situation that I will take up in another blog post.  Below are some resources for you to explore if you would like more information on the things that I have discussed.


Veg Web      

Vegan Cooking   

Gluten Freeda 

Celiac Recipes  

Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring