How to avoid a thanksgiving stuffed with food allergies
Thanksgiving is the one day every year that it’s (almost!) ok to stuff your face with food. Unfortunately, many of the traditional holiday foods contain common food allergens — that’s why Thanksgiving with food allergies can be such a challenge.
With the holidays quickly approaching it can be overwhelming to plan a holiday meal for multiple family members and friends, all with different dietary restrictions. Did you know eggs, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish top the food allergy list? With that in mind, the easiest way to avoid allergens is to cook from scratch. Soy, wheat, dairy and nuts often can hide in processed foods if you don’t know where to look on the label.
Here are some simple tips to omit common allergens while continuing to enjoy traditional holiday foods:
Dairy-free mashed potatoes: Substitute regular milk by using a milk alternative such as rice milk or coconut milk, plus swapping olive oil in for butter will lighten up mashed potatoes but still keep them tasting great. Then, just season with plenty of fresh herbs and garlic.
Gluten-free stuffing: Using gluten-free bread instead of traditional wheat breads is an easy way to make this side dish more allergen friendly. To bind your stuffing, swap eggs for a mixture of ground flax and water. You can add additional flavor with savory herbs and dried or fresh fruit.
Nut-free feast: Instead of a nut topping on traditional casseroles like sweet potato or as a topping for baked apples and pears, try toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled gluten-free gingersnaps, or a prepackaged nut-free, gluten-free granola like KIND Oat and Honey Clusters which are loaded with five, gluten free whole grains as well as coconut and sesame seeds.
Dairy-free potatoes au gratin: Ditch the cheese and try a cheese substitute with good melt-ability. I like GO Veggie! cheese alternatives because they have several varieties including shreds and grated cheese, which work great in a gratin. Then add in a milk alternative like unsweetened rice milk or coconut milk.
Gluten-free gravy: If you’re making it from scratch, use wheat-free all-purpose flour instead of regular flour in your roux (flour and butter mixture used to thicken gravy).
Dairy-free green beans: Whipping up a green bean casserole, sauté some fresh mushrooms with shallots and fresh thyme and add Imagine Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup which is dairy free (contains soy-milk). Just add some blanched green beans and I promise, you won’t miss the canned soup or fried onion topping.
Which allergy-friendly substitutions do you make at you holiday table?
Katie Cavuto MS, RD is a registered dietitian and trained chef. She is the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services. Katie is also the consulting dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a regular contributor on local and national TV and radio as an expert in her field. To learn more about Katie, check her website at healthybitesdelivery.com.