With holiday season just around the corner, many people will be gathering together with friends and family to celebrate.
However, it can be stressful to plan a holiday menu that accommodates everyone’s dietary needs. Food allergies pose a particular challenge because they can cause severe and sometimes life threatening reactions. Below are a few tips to help make your holiday planning easier to ensure you and your guests have a safe and happy holiday.
- Before you begin, thoroughly clean all cooking surface, utensils, and dishes in hot, soapy water to remove any trace amounts of allergen.
- Call guests ahead of time to determine if anyone has a food allergy.
- If possible, try to create a holiday menu that is devoid of potential allergens. There are many allergen alternatives available these days, such as coconut or oat milk in place of cow’s milk, sunflower butter rather than nut butters, and almond flour instead of wheat. Oftentimes people with food allergies have already figured out what substitutions work best for them and will be happy to share their insight.
- If there are multiple food allergens, it may be difficult to avoid all these ingredients. In this case, try to make any recipes that are completely allergen free first to avoid cross contamination. Store these items in a clearly labeled container.
- Make a decorative place card listing the ingredients for each dish to make it easier for your guests to identify any potential problems. Clearly mark any dishes you know are not allergy friendly.
- Try setting allergen free dishes in a separate area so they can easily be identified.
- Designate specific utensils for each dish to avoid cross contamination.
- Involve your guests in your holiday planning and embrace their input! Invite anyone to bring their own food or dish as they may feel more comfortable knowing it is a recipe safe for them.