Food allergies. Gluten intolerance. Vegetarian diets. Vegan diets. Paleo diets. Dairy-free diets. Sugar-free diets. Religious dietary laws. The number of considerations when entertaining a crowd and serving food seems to grow exponentially each year. What can a conscientious host or hostess to do address these factors?

For starters, know that there’s no single solution that will address all the issues. Simply being aware that there may be dietary considerations is a step in the right direction. When you’re preparing your menu, share it with your guests early enough in the preparations and ask for suggestions or input. While you probably won’t be able to accommodate everyone, having a variety of options (based on the input you received) shows that you care about your guests and their needs.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables are usually a good starting point for finding common ground. Fresh organic string beans with organic olive oil and seasoning, for example, are a great alternative to the traditional string bean casserole, which contains processed soup base and loads of salt and fat. Dried organic fruits and nuts or seeds are also popular for a gathering in which dietary restrictions abound.

Know your ingredients. If you’re cooking for a group, aim for more whole foods versus processed foods. You’ll be more familiar with the ingredients and the processes used in preparing them. There will be less chance of serving something that was processed in a factory where nuts or dairy, say, are processed.

If it’s appropriate, ask guests to contribute a dish of their choosing or choose a dish they can prepare that can find a happy home among your crowd. Be sure to inform your helper chefs about the parameters you’re working with.

And check out Inspired Organics’ various product lines. Our thoughtfully sourced organic products and whole foods will help put you on the right course. Once you have your menu, start thinking about setting the perfect table, your playlist, and anything else that will contribute to your successful get-together.