We share a lot of meals with people. It seems like every event comes with food of some kind. Out for coffee with a friend. Hosting people for dinner. Game night with munchies and drinks! Helping friends move – “pizza and beer will be provided.” Where there is fellowship, there is usually food. People bond over a shared meal. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have taken place around the tiny table in our apartment. Eating gives us life, both in the nourishment it provides our bodies, and for our souls in the fellowship and deep bonds that can happen over dinner.
Our church wants to help form those deep bonds between people, and so we eat together often. We believe this is why Jesus took bread and wine to consecrate at the last supper. Taking that idea – “food brings life” – Jesus takes it one step further, turning ordinary bread and wine at a dinner into something sacred. Something truly life giving. We don’t want to just take communion and go home though, we want to deeply experience this life together. So every single Sunday after church we have a potluck, and every Tuesday we gather for a simple dinner of soup followed by a Bible study.
Meals aren’t the only place where deep fellowship happens, and meals are not a guarantee of close conversation, or even good conversation! But they are a place to start, a place to get to know one another, a place to laugh or share how your day went. And really, that’s sharing life together!
Now that I have started following an AIP diet, it’s a little trickier for me to participate in our many potlucks. At first this came with great sadness and frustration on my part. I’ve just explained how important meals are to us! And now, to be seemingly excluded from the table because I can’t eat any of the dishes? That’s heartbreaking. One of the hardest things for me to learn is that fellowship happens regardless of food, if I let it. Yes, food is an important part in bringing people together, but what am I really craving? The food people serve, or the fellowship of the people themselves?
That being said, we still go to a lot of potlucks, and I still have to follow this strict diet. So here are some things I’ve learned to make it easier for me, and the recipe for my favorite AIP potluck dish to share!
Always bring food.
I’ve learned to always have a meal ready to bring just in case, and I’ve learned to bring a hearty AIP side or main dish to events so I am sure to have something to eat!
Bring a treat.
You don’t have to bake for everybody, but bring something desserty to keep you away from those cookies. There are a few great AIP cookie recipes out there if you want to do some baking, but most times I have brought some fresh or frozen fruit with coconut whipped cream.
Take your food out of your Tupperware and put it on a plate.
The practical side of me says, “the Tupperware is already holding the amount of food I will consume, so why dirty another dish?” But the act of putting it on a plate, and eating it from a plate, just like everybody else, helps me feel like I’m participating in the full meal. I’m no longer the weird one with the container of “different” food, I’m the same as everyone else. My food is different than yours but it’s a potluck. Everybody’s plate will look different.
Prep the night before.
I’ve started making a larger amount of food Saturday evening so I can take leftovers with me on Sunday. I do the same for Tuesdays. That way, all I have to do is grab my meal from the fridge. And with all the extra cooking we do with this lifestyle anyways, it’s nice to have the convenience of leftovers.
One of my favorite dishes (and everyone else’s favorite too!) is this hearty squash and apple casserole. Slightly sweet, it’s perfect for crisp winter days or a thanksgiving side dish. And my favorite thing about it? It’s so easy!
Squash and Apple Casserole
Coconut oil for greasing the pan.
Butternut squash, cut into slices and without the seeds.
Two crisp apples, peeled and sliced.
1/2 cup maple sugar
4 tablespoons cold coconut oil
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Combine the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger and mix well. Cut the cold coconut oil into the mixture until crumbly.
Grease a 9×13 baking pan with coconut oil. Layer the squash and apple slices in the pan, then sprinkle the sugar mixture on top.
Cover with tin foil and bake at 350°F for 1 hour.