Cater to all of your guests this holiday season
Let’s face it: The days when everyone at your holiday table can or will eat everything you put before them are long gone!
For starters, more than 32 million Americans have food allergies. Plenty more are eating vegan or gluten-free or some other strict diet.
For them, the holidays can be a struggle. But they don’t have to be so hard on you! It takes just a few simple recipe substitutions to keep all of your guests happy and safe.
Problem food: Eggs
Eggs are one of the eight major food allergens. They are also an animal product, which means they cannot be consumed by individuals following a vegan diet. While eggs are often used in baked goods as a binding agent, they can be replaced with the following ingredient substitutions:
- Applesauce (1/4 cup per egg)
- Banana (1/2 medium banana per egg)
- Egg replacement (not “egg substitute”)
- Ground flax seed (1 tablespoon mixed with 3 tablespoons of boiling water per egg)
- Xanthan gum (1/2 teaspoon mixed with 1/2 cup of water per egg)
Problem food: Milk
Milk and other dairy products can be life-threatening for those with milk allergies and cause serious discomfort in individuals with lactose intolerance. Fortunately, there are a number of milk substitutes on the market, including oat, rice, and soy, as well as dairy-free cheese alternatives. If you are cooking with butter, opt for a dairy-free margarine instead.
Problem food: Peanuts and tree nuts
Peanuts and tree nuts, such as almonds and cashews, are well-known food allergens. Substitute them for sunflower seeds or roasted chickpeas, peas, soybeans, or pumpkin seeds to give your recipe an added crunch.
Problem food: Soy
While soy is not used in a lot of traditional holiday foods, it is an ingredient in margarine. Grab the butter instead or, in the event that your guest is lactose intolerant, allergic to milk, or vegan, try a vegan, soy-free buttery spread (available in many organic food stores).
Problem food: Wheat
Wheat products cannot be consumed by anyone who has a wheat allergy or is following a gluten-free diet. Try one of the following ingredient swaps when replacing wheat in baked goods:
- Chickpea flour (7/8 cup per cup of wheat flour)
- Ground rolled oats (1 1/3 cups per cup of wheat flour)
- Potato starch (3/4 cup per cup of wheat flour)
- Rice flour (7/8 cup per cup of wheat flour)
- Tapioca flour (1:1 ratio)
When hosting guests with food allergies, remember to also take the following precautions around the kitchen:
- Carefully inspect all ingredient labels for problem foods.
- Cook with natural, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
- Keep your kitchen environment clean in order to prevent cross-contamination.
- Wash your hands frequently throughout the cooking process.