During Thanksgiving we open our homes as well as our kitchens to family and friends, both old and new. So what do you do when one of your guests has a food allergy? What do you do when that guest is a child?
There are some simple things you can do to make your guest feel comfortable and to minimize additional work for yourself. The first is to identify clearly the food allergy or allergies. If the allergen is relatively simple to avoid without compromising the integrity of some of your recipes then consider making one or more of your dishes “allergen-optional”, that is, offering the allergen, e.g. cream sauce, on the side. The second, especially as children are concerned, is to be clear about which food items contain the allergen. For example, you might consider adding a small label to dishes identifying which are allergen-free. Identifying “ok” dishes is important, especially if the child’s allergy is serious.
What do you do if the allergen is present in most of your dishes or if the child has multiple food allergies? What do you do about dessert? As a mother of a child with a serious food allergy, I am touched when a hostess provides a dish that my child can eat. I don’t expect others to accommodate my child’s specific dietary restraints and your guest won’t either. In fact, your guest may already be planning on bringing “safe” foods to your meal. If you are, however, determined to offer something at the Thanksgiving table then there are a few fool-proof foods that even those with the most serious food allergies can usually eat: rice (brown and white), pears, chicken, most red meats, rice milk, and quinoa. For dessert, high-end groceries sell numerous vegan or gluten-free options, or you can consider transforming your favorite dessert recipe into a vegan one using egg substitute. My favorite traditional-turned-vegan dessert recipe is Pumpkin Bread.
Food allergies and Thanksgiving dinner can be compatible. If you have the time, consider making some small changes to your meal. You will certainly surprise your guest and make the meal that much more special for everyone.
Olivia B. Melaugh is CIO for Intensive Nutrition Inc. and a proud mommy of three little girls. Intensive Nutrition is a family-owned and family-operated nutritional supplement company that manufactures and sells high quality, effective supplements like NutriYummies, an allergen-free and sugar-free comprehensive multivitamin for kids. You can learn more about Intensive Nutrition and Olivia by visiting www.intensivenutrition.com or www.nutriyummies.com