Remember that kid in grade school who was allergic to nuts and peanuts and was the reason your mom had to find the closest nut-free bakery to buy cupcakes for your birthday? Well, now that kid is all grown up and could be your friend, your colleague or, in my case, your significant other. Catering to a dietary need like an allergy is exactly that: something that needs to be catered to, otherwise, it could lead to some very serious consequences. But no need to stress! I’m here to share with you the lessons I’ve learned living with someone who’s allergic to nuts and how you can make anyone you cook for feel comfortable digging in (because I’m sure it’s absolutely delicious)…
Here are all the ways to accommodate your guest with a nut allergy!
Get to Know Your Alternatives
There are lots of great alternatives to nuts, depending on what it is that you’re trying to achieve. When adapting an existing recipe, keep in mind that it may take a few tries to get your new version exactly right. Half a cup of peanut butter may require more or less of your chosen substitution to get the consistency and flavour to where it should be.
- If you’re looking for that great *crunch* that just seems to make every bite more satisfying than the last, try toasted corn kernels.
- If you’re looking for that nutty undertone that ties the dish together beautifully, try arugula or nutritional yeast.
- If you’re looking to complete a new baking recipe with a butter to bind the batter and the flavour, try sunflower butter (TIP: Sunflower seeds contain chlorogenic acid, which can turn a green colour when baked with baking soda/powder, but it’s totally safe to eat!)
Look for Words That Could Be a Red Flag
For those with a nut allergy, certain words are definite indicators that there’s likely (but not always) something to be wary of. This isn’t always the case, but either way, you should always be checking the ingredient list of everything you serve anyway!
- “Thai” cuisine honours the culinary traditions of the South Asian country, which typically uses peanuts and/or peanut oil for an authentic flavour.
- “Vegan” or “vegetarian” food popularity has grown substantially over the last decade but often uses nuts and peanuts for texture and protein.
- “May contain” is pretty much what it sounds like. There may be no nuts or peanuts in the product, but there is no guarantee of zero cross-contamination, whether that be because of other items produced at the same facility or any other range of reasons. This isn’t saying that there are nuts, but it’s not saying that there aren’t any, either, so it definitely should not be ignored. When in doubt, just ask!
Dessert is a Sweet Thing to Do
If you really want to make your guest with a nut allergy smile, make or buy them a dessert that has the green light for them to enjoy it to the last crumb. Anybody with a nut allergy will tell you that when it comes to a post-meal treat, that’s always the hardest part (even though it should be the most fun, right?). Think about it: What’s the best item on the dessert menu? Things covered in things like Nutella, peanuts brittle or candied walnuts. More often than not, our nut-free friends can safely eat a restaurant, but dessert is off-limits. Making the effort to keep your kitchen clean of contaminants or going out of your way to find a nut-free treat will definitely not go unnoticed.