Along with all of the stress of the holidays (decorating, sending cards, gifts, oh my!), it can be hard to juggle preparing food for a crowd, especially when food allergies are present. Here are some tips and tricks to help make a Christmas dinner that much easier on the host.
Simplify to remove allergens
Guests with food allergies don’t always need an entirely separate menu. If you are hosting, start by asking guests what you need to avoid, and how carefully. It might help to have a menu in mind when you call them so they know what to tell you to watch out for. For instance, turkey isn’t a problem for guests with a dairy allergy as long as you don’t baste with butter, and skip adding cream to mashed potatoes (vegetable stock is a flavorful substitute!). Make sure to leave pecans out of stuffing for family with a tree nut allergy, and don’t top Brussels sprouts with walnuts! Basic vegetable side dishes such as glazed carrots or roasted green beans are delicious, simple, and can usually be enjoyed by everyone.
Look for one special allergen-free recipe
Guests with food allergies are used to not being able to have everything on the table, so don’t be afraid to offer something just for them. More and more allergen-free prepared foods are available, often in the freezer section or the natural foods section of the grocery store. Baked goods in particular, such as gluten-free offerings for patients with Celiac disease, are often pretty high quality and big time savers.
Consider dessert carefully
A lot of desserts present challenges since they use so many common food allergens: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts are incredibly common in sweet treats. We have posted a few recipes in the past, such as milk-free peppermint shake. Another resource for some great ideas is this blog post by our friends at FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) which includes recipes for Milk-Free Hot Chocolate and Frosted Nutmeg Cookies. And you can always serve fresh fruit for dessert, as long as your guest isn’t allergic to any of the fruit you’re serving.
Are you expecting guests with food allergies this Christmas? What will you do to help them celebrate?