Cooking for a Diverse Crowd


By Rachel Rappaport of Fit Fare – Frequently at any dinner party there are people with various food needs. Some common issues are diabetes, veganism, vegetarianism, and celiac disease. Some are a little easier to deal with such as diabetics who have to avoid sugar but mostly just need to stick to a basic, well balanced diet with lean meats and whole grains.

Celiac disease suffers need to avoid foods with gluten such as wheat, rye, and barley. Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but vegans take it one step further, they do not eat any animal products including dairy, eggs, and honey. Cooking a special meal for each person is time consuming and costly. A better solution is to pick something everyone can eat. I normally go to the person who has the most limited diet (in this case the vegan) and design a menu from there.

In this case, I served Chinese Style Stuffed Cabbage. It is gluten free (rice noodles), meat and animal product free, well balanced and easy doubled for more servings.

Chinese Style Stuffed Cabbage (originally appeared on Coconut & Lime)
Yields about 8-10 rolls


  • 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 oz dried bean thread noodles
  • 1 /2 cup fresh hon-shimeji mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1 tablespoon oil


  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

First, rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup water for about 15 minutes. Reserve the liquid and chop the mushrooms. At the same time, in a small bowl, soak the noodles for about 10 minutes or until softened. Drain, then chop into 3-4 inch pieces.

While you are waiting for all that to soak, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside.

In a wok or large sauce pan, heat oil until very hot. Add the both types of mushrooms, carrot, celery, green onions, and noodles, stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the sauce and cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Steam the cabbage leaves for about 3 minutes or until just pliable. Drain and rinse with cool water. Stuff each leaf with about 1/8 of the mixture.

To fill: place the leaf in your hand, open side up, place the bit of mixture towards the stem end and roll towards the other end. Repeat until all of the leaves are full*.

Place leaves in a bamboo steamer. Bring the reserved mushroom liquid to a boil in the wok. Arrange the bamboo steamer (or other steamer) on top and steam for about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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