Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays — sweater weather, red cups at Starbucks, finally getting to spend time outdoors again, and let’s not forget all the delicious food! For families with food allergies, like mine, holidays that are celebrated with food can be tricky though. In our family, food allergies include milk, eggs, nuts, beans, avocado, and garlic. Food allergies can affect each individual a different way too — for me, I’m allergic to garlic, but as long as I’m not eating fresh garlic I tend not to have any reaction. My son, on the other hand, will at a minimum get hives and begin to itch when he has a reaction to foods.
When we get together with friends and family for holiday meals we love that they want to look out for us, but we also know it can be troublesome to modify or create a meal for someone with food allergies. This month I thought I’d share with you 5 tips that have worked for me to help prepare a food allergy friendly feast.
- Have Ingredient Labels/Recipes Available — whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish to a potluck, feel free to make your Grandma’s famous Cheesy Potatoes and all the other fixings that are holiday staples at your house. If you can have the recipe and ingredient labels available, it will allow others to take a quick peak to confirm if they can dig in to those items.
- Display Labels on the Buffet — if the meal is being served from a buffet an easy way to help identify foods with allergens is having place cards noting the name of the food and any known allergens. It’s likely that you can get a food allergy sufferer to volunteer to take on this task!
- Communicate the Menu in Advance — if you’re hosting a meal, and are able to share the menu in advance this can help others plan accordingly. I always appreciate when someone else is doing the meal planning and preparation, if I know what’s going to be served I can plan for bringing an allergy safe alternative if need be, without the host having to modify their main menu.
- Avoid Cross Contamination — depending on the severity of food allergies, cross contamination can be a huge problem. When preparing and serving food, try to ensure separate utensils are used for each menu item.
- Be Understanding — if you ignored my first tip, and modified your Grandma’s famous Cheesy Potatoes to be made with “allergy friendly” ingredients (but didn’t save the recipe or the labels) and then the person who you’d modified the food for doesn’t partake, please know they are likely grateful for your efforts, but to ensure there are no need for shots of Benadryl at your party they are choosing to forgo the delicious goodness you’ve created.
North Phoenix Moms, whether it’s someone in your immediate family with food allergies or a cherished friend or family member, I hope you find these tips helpful for creating delicious feast for all this holiday season.