|You can make these little guys. See the recipe section at the end of this post!|
Holiday parties are in full swing now so I know that many of us are wondering how to cope and have fun at the same time.
My best advice: Keep things simple and stick to your food allergy rules about eating no matter what. It’s not always easy but if you are trying to avoid an allergic reaction, this is the best way to roll.
For those of us who are new to dealing with nut allergies at the holidays, just remember that no one is born knowing how to deal with a life-threatening food allergy. It’s a learning process, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t figure out everything perfectly right away. You will learn some things this year that will help you next year. You may even find some solutions that end up being your go-to methods. This gets easier, the more you deal with it.
Don’t worry if your approach does not sit well with others at first. You know what’s best, so be confident in your desire to avoid an allergic reaction and trip to the hospital! Be as upbeat as you can, bring foods to share and remember that food isn’t everything. Celebrating does not have to be confined to food.
Holiday Foods that are High-Risk for Peanuts/Tree Nuts
Pie and pie crust
Gravy or sauces, sweet or savory
Salads and salad dressings
Anything mixed: Casserole, stir-fry, sauté
Dumplings or stuffed pasta
The list goes on. When you see how much there is that is risky, it only reinforces the need to bring safe foods for your child.
Now here’s a big one, and it’s not very popular sometimes but it’s very important: Please avoid desserts that you did not make. Did you know that 43% of food allergy reactions are caused by dessert foods? No matter how good it looks, no matter how much your kids want it--if you didn't make it,or bring it, don't let them eat it. Desserts are so high-risk that it's just not worth it.
Your option is to bring and/or make something safe. If you bring a dessert, keep it well away from any allergenic foods and keep it well-covered until serving time. Serve your allergic family members first to avoid cross-contact.
If you are not a dessert person, bring some Oreos or some other safe store-bought treat for your child. You can always offer a special treat later at home. That was my method when my daughter was younger and it worked. Let them know there is a pot of gold for them at the end of the rainbow later on and bring something extra to tide them over during the party—you won’t regret it! Here’s a link to some supermarket treats safe for nut allergies.
Parties and dinners
Communicate and evaluate. When you it’s your family, you will likely be more assertive about how to collaborate on an allergy-friendly celebration. If you get an invite from someone who is an acquaintance or casual friend, you can’t expect that they will alter the menus. In this case, you might accept but tell your hosts (in a very nice way) that you will bring food for your child and offer to bring something to share with the group.
Offer to provide safe alternatives to holiday favorites. Does someone always want to make pecan pie or peanut butter blossom cookies, or Chex Mix snack with peanuts? See if you can make or bring an alternative. Leave the nuts out of the recipe or use a replacement. You might just introduce a new recipe that will become a new family favorite.
Be careful at the buffet table. Buffets are generally not a good idea for those with severe food allergies. They may involve “pot luck” items brought by several guests (no way to know about the safety of those dishes) and they present a cross-contact risk. Bring your child some safe foods and serve them a plate in the kitchen if you know your family or friends are hosting a buffet.
Bring a backup meal or snacks for your child. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may not feel that a meal or snacks at a party will be safe enough for your child to eat. In fact, this is usually the case for most foods served at any party, simply because we can’t always be sure about the origins of a food. To save stress and minimize any risk or reaction, bring something safe (and tasty) for your child and serve it to them without a lot of fanfare. If anyone asks, use the situation to increase awareness: "Due to Henry’s severe nut allergy, we have to be very careful with his diet, so we brought some of his favorite foods.”
Never leave home without your medications. Keep auto-injectors, antihistamines and any other meds close by at all times. If your forget your meds, go home and get them. (I used to keep a Post-It note on my front door, back door and car dashboard saying Bring EpiPen(®!) If an emergency occurs, medications are lifesavers.
Peanut-free, Tree Nut-Free Christmas recipes:
From Skeeter Snacks, fun ways to make their cookies look festive for the holidays:
From Food Allergy Mama: Egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free (and can be GF) holiday spice cookies:
From Sugarcrafter: Pecan pie--without the pecans. So popular with NFM readers!
From Just a Taste: Christmas tree cupcakes using ice cream cones for the tree:
From SunButter: Peanut-free blossom cookies:
From The Nut-Free Mom: A roundup of my favorite Christmas treat recipes, including the snowman cupcakes pictured above!