After you’ve made the conversion to real food in your home, lots of things change. Your buying habits, your meal plans, maybe even your appetite and your cravings. What you used to eat just sometimes doesn’t really even sound good anymore because you’ve come to the realization that those foods don’t fuel you and build you up the same way real food does.
One of the obstacles in our gradual progression into real food was the idea or feeling that eating this new way would isolate us from our friends or draw lines we weren’t intending to draw. You know you’ve been around someone who says incredulously, “Oh, you eat that? Don’t you know how bad that is for you?” like you’re the worst person on the earth for eating whatever it was. I know I experienced that before I made a switch to eating healthier foods, and I’m sure I’ve even heard it since!
As a Christian, I would never want to condemn someone for what they choose to eat. But also as a Christian, I want to use my experiences, my food, and my home as a way to bless others. And sometimes, it feels like those two can be in opposition. What do you do? The answer might surprise you. It’s easier than you think.
What You Can Do
Serve the (Real) Food Anyway
One of the first lessons I learned about hospitality was not to fret over all the details; people are just happy to be served! I used to think, “Oh, we do not have enough beverage options; all we can drink is WATER!!” My friend told me, “If that’s all you have, then water is what they will drink. It’s no biggie!”
Sometimes we make the job of hospitality harder on ourselves by over-analyzing each decision. Set a menu and then stick with it. If you can’t squeeze everything in, like making one of your grandmother’s homemade pies, then don’t worry about it. The cookies you baked a few days ago, plus your organic ice cream stashed in the freezer, will certainly do.
Keep The Menu Recognizable
Now, if your company is nowhere close to the real food bandwagon, it might not be the right time to throw beef liver into the chili (“Surprise, everyone! We’re eating LIVER tonight!” — might not be the words they want to hear). So choose a menu that you think would satisfy the real foodie inside you, and the SAD diet of the person whom you may be serving. Since it’s cold season, soups and chilis always seem to be an easy route, and it can be an affordable dinner for everyone as well. Use your homemade stock, leftover meat, soaked beans, and your own veggies, and I bet your guests will have no clue how healthy they are eating! However they will most likely be sure to scarf it down.
Prioritize the Relationship
In almost all cases, relationships are more important than food. So while it may be tempting to let your guests know, “This broth is homemade, and comes from pastured poultry, as I would never want to eat that industrialized meat; it’s so toxic! It’s just horrible!” just so they can appreciate the nutrient-dense goodness of their meal, maybe just leave it at, “Oh yeah, I used my own homemade broth! It was a lot easier to make than I thought!” with a smile — if you’re even asked. Sometimes it’s just not even necessary to mention it.
Answer Questions If They’re Asked
I can get anxious when I have others over, especially if they know I’ve made a switch to all-natural, little to no processed, organic foods. I’m afraid they will be inspecting my pantry, or my fridge to see what foods I have on hand, or what brands I buy. Will they judge me if they see the organic label on a lot of my spices? Will they wonder where the boxes of cereal are, or why my milk has an odd label on it? Unless your guests are truly curious, in most cases they might not even notice all your “strange foods”. Or if they do, it might be motivation to them to see someone else stepping out and using healthier foods.
It may even lead to a conversation about why, in which case you can adeptly share some of what you do and your philosophy. At this point I tend to get really excited, and I want to literally drop every piece of information I’ve learned over the last 3 years on my listener, which can get just a touch overwhelming. It’s best to leave it to the basics. If I’m conscious of myself, I try to say something like, “I prefer all-natural or organic, foods that are less processed, as close to their natural state as possible. We feel better this way. And sometimes, we avoid [these food groups] for health reasons.”
You might be able to ascertain if your listener wants to discuss more, in which case you can continue the conversation.
Use What You Have — And Relax
Finally, don’t be afraid to use your butter, cream or full- fat sour cream — don’t worry about the “low- fat” comments. Not only will your food taste more flavorful, it most likely will ensure that any children you are also dining with will actually eat their veggies! Nearly anytime I serve vegetables to my 3.5 year old daughter, if they are slathered in butter and seasoned with a little sea salt, she gobbles it up! Our bodies are naturally designed to know what is good for them, so a little fat on our vegetables helps us assimilate all the nutrients inside those carrots, broccoli, or green beans!
Image by JoyTheBaker.com
Need Ideas of What to Serve?
Group-friendly recipes include:
- Santa Fe Chili
- White Chili – for parties larger than 4, make double
- Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas
- Tacos (make your own taco seasoning for the meat, then use guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese and whatever you like for toppings). This can be a grain-free meal as well, if you sub romaine lettuce for the tortilla shells or tortilla chips.
- Homemade pizza with side salad (use your homemade dressings – I guarantee they’ll be a hit!)
Really, the options are endless and this is just a short list to get your mind going.
Bottom line is, it is a blessing to be with other people, and to open up your home. Serve the food in love (and possibly slathered in butter), and the rest will take care of itself!
What are your favorite foods to serve when you have company over? How do you handle any of the awkwardness you may feel or that might come up over some of your food choices? What do you think is most important?
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