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Kids and Allergies: Don’t go nuts this Thanksgiving. Please

Submitted by on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 No Comment

There’s pecan pie and chestnut stuffing and cranberry-Jello salad with walnuts. Maybe some almonds tossed into a salad to make it more festive. Don’t forget the peanut butter celery for the appetizer tray. Oh, and the sweet potato casserole will taste better with nuts added to the brown-sugar topping.

Many a host has gone down that road with the best of intentions. The results, though, can range from awkward to tragic, because that Thanksgiving menu is toxic to millions of Americans with nut allergies.

Chances are if you’re serving dinner are close family members, you’re going to be familiar with any food allergies or sensitivities. If your guests include people beyond that immediate circle, though, you could be treading on dangerous ground.

A few tips for keeping Thanksgiving happy for everyone:

* Ask guests if they have any allergies or sensitivities. I volunteer the information when an invitation is issued, but some people feel awkward doing that. If nut allergies are an issue for anyone, please don’t include them on the menu.

* If you don’t eliminate nuts, be aware of cross-contamination issues as you cook. Stirring the potatoes with the same spoon that was just in the green bean almondine is enough to make the potatoes poisonous for a nut-allergic guest.

* If you prepare dishes with nuts and have guests with allergies, let them serve themselves first. That way they won’t have to worry about other guests accidentally spreading allergens by using one food’s serving spoon in another bowl.

* Don’t serve peanuts or peanut butter. Period. Some people are so violently allergic that dust in the air can cause a reaction. Big Guy is sensitive enough that he can break out in hives if someone touches peanut butter and then touches an object that he later handles.

* Don’t be offended allergic guests offer to bring food. I always show up with egg-free pumpkin pie, so there’s at least one thing that Big Guy can enjoy along with everyone else.

* Avoid seafood add-ins as well — it’s a Top Eight allergen. My family is fond of oysters in stuffing, which pretty much keeps the dish off my plate unless I want to spend the day in an emergency room.

I won’t complain, though, about the vegan Thanksgiving dinner I ate one year after the hostess topped her turkey with bacon strips. I’m deathly allergic to pork, but that allergy’s so far out of the mainstream that it wouldn’t even occur to many other food-allergic people that bacon could be a problem.

Just lay off the nuts and seafood and you’ll make most of us happy Thanksgiving campers.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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