Pregnant Ladies, This Dinner Party is For You

By Carolyn Stine September 3, 2019 

Nervous that you’re hosting pregnant friends and won’t be able to serve them anything at dinner? We’ve got you covered.

Let’s face the facts: it’s tough to figure out what to serve at any dinner party, full stop. And while we’ve given some serious thought to how to throw a fabulous dinner party when guests have dietary restrictions in play (such as being vegan, or gluten-free), we were recently stumped when we had pregnant friends over to eat. All of the sudden, the aperitivos, the baked brie, and the pigs in a blanket were all off the table. So what’s a hostess to serve? We’re crafting a dinner party that takes the pregnancy no-no’s into account. Here’s our guide to what to avoid serving, and how to create a menu full of dishes and drinks that are wholly delicious whether you’re eating for one or for two. 

The Hard No’s

When crafting your dinner party menu, these are the menu items that you definitely want to steer clear of. 

Meat & Seafood

Raw fish - Say sayonara to that ceviche or sashimi appetizer.

Raw shellfish - No oysters this time around.

Smoked fish - Keep the bagel, hold the lox.

Undercooked fish - Skip the sear in favor of fully cooked fish. 

High mercury fish - No swordfish, mackerel, or tuna tonight.

Raw meat - Save that beef tartare for your next trip to France.

Undercooked meat - The bloody steak has got to go. 

Raw eggs - AKA, that yolk on top of aforementioned beef tartare, or the homemade aioli.

Organ meat - Skip the offal (not hard to avoid!).

Processed meat - No hot dogs on the grill, and cancel the deli meat, too.

Dairy

Unpasteurized cheese - Sadly, unpasteurized faves such as brie, camembert, and blue cheese (among others) should be avoided.

Unpasteurized milk - Get your milk at the grocery store, not the local dairy.

Produce

Unwashed - Make sure to wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly to avoid bacteria and parasite contamination.

Raw sprouts - Sprouts like alfalfa can be contaminated with bacteria.

Dessert

Beware of items with uncooked eggs - That includes cookie dough, but also meringues, chocolate mousse, and tiramisu.

Drinks

Alcohol - DUH.

What To Make

Ok, we realize that list of hard no’s may seem like a long one. But there are so very many flavorful, diverse, and delicious ingredients still at your disposal. Read on for some of our of-the-moment favorite ways to dream up a creative dinner party menu that’s inventive and pregnancy-friendly, too. 

Mocktail, Straight Up

While a wine pairing or classic cocktail might not be on the menu for all, there’s a growing mocktail movement happening that we want to partake in even when we’re not pregnant. Our favorite way to serve a mocktail at our dinner party is to make one that can double as a cocktail for those in the group that are drinking. Simply prepare the drink base without alcohol, and add in a spirit for your non-pregnant friends. This makes your life easier as hostess too, so you won’t need to be whipping up bespoke drinks behind the bar. 

This ginger lime fizz is both refreshing and bright on its own, and doubles as a pseudo-Moscow Mule base. Simply add vodka for the drinkers in your crowd. We also love an herbaceous libation, and this grapefruit and rosemary spritz packs a punch by itself, or with tequila. 

Beginning Bites

So, we’ve already established that a blue cheese tasting and charcuterie board are off the table. But fear not, cheese lovers! If a beautiful cheese board is your entertaining signature during cocktail hour, there are preggo-friendly options out there that won’t cramp your style. Aged, pasteurized cheeses are the way to go, and some of the best include aged goudas, cheddars, manchego, and gruyeres. Serve them alongside some marcona almonds and fresh concord grapes, and you’re golden.

If you’re looking for a more composed appetizer, why not make a playful nod to the illicit beef tartare that you’re avoiding? This beet tartare, served on crisp endive leaves, is a gorgeous presentation, easy to eat during cocktail hour, and absolutely sings with flavors of fresh orange and tangy balsamic.

The Main Event

With seafood being a tough field to navigate, and making sure red meat is cooked through being worrisome, we’re removing the hassle and bringing you two entree options that are nearly impossible to mess up. 

This veal scallopine with a charred cherry tomato salad features cutlets of veal that are pounded thin and cooked all the way through, accompanied by the most refreshing side salad of peppery arugula and just-bursting cherry tomatoes. It’s topped with freshly shaved parmesan, which is on our list of pregnancy-acceptable hard cheeses.

If DIY is more your style, get your guests involved with these ginger-marinated bulgogi chicken wraps. It’s a far cry from a dry chicken dish of dinner parties past - it’s marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger and is incredibly juicy. Slice it thin and serve it alongside lettuce wraps, jasmine rice, kimchi, pickled cucumbers, and scallions so guests can assemble their own. 

Dessert Time

Pregnant or not, all of us want a bite of something sweet at the conclusion of a good meal. These are our two seasonal picks of the moment that stay away from raw eggs and frostings with egg whites, and stick with cooked-through goodness.

If you have the time on your hands, these free-form fruit and nut pies are personal-sized, and rustically beautiful. You can choose your preserves of choice for the center, and the toasted pine nuts on top add an unexpected crunch.

 

If making individual pies makes you say “hell no,” this pear cobbler is the answer to your prayers. It’s topped with a cranberry streusel that will rock your socks (and definitely requires a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, too).

Pregnancy cravings driving your dinner party menu? Been to a dinner party where you couldn’t eat a thing? Share your good, bad, and just plain crazy stories here!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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