How Do I Cook Nut-Free at Thanksgiving?

Allergies can be tricky to work around during the holidays, especially when family you don't see often comes to town. A nut allergy might not seem like a big deal during Thanksgiving, but when appetizers, stuffing, and pecan pie hit the table, it’s not safe for people with diagnosed nut allergies. A nut-free Thanksgiving menu is easy to plan and will please any crowd, keeping all nut-allergy fears at ease.

If a guest with a nut allergy is headed to your holiday table this year, you might be wondering how to keep them safe and everyone else pleased with the dinner menu. It's quite easy, actually. These tips for serving up a nut-free Thanksgiving can help:

  1. Alert others. Let everyone who is coming to the dinner know about the allergy. In the spirit of the holidays, guests will show up with appetizers and hostess gifts. Candied nuts or mixed nuts on a cheese plate might seem like the perfect touch, but for a person with a nut allergy, that might just be a sign it's time to go home. Let your guests know ahead of time so they too can prepare efficiently. No need to share names. Just be specific about the allergy, and ask everyone to kindly alter their menu plans. Try this nut-free Thanksgiving appetizer, Broiled Shrimp with Buttermilk Rémoulade.
  2. Read labels. If the allergy is severe, double check any pre-made items, especially candy, to make sure those foods were not made in a facility that processes nuts. If the nut allergy isn't that severe, this step may not be necessary. Be sure to ask the individual with the food allergy how sensitive they are.
  3. Make a second dish. If a beloved family recipe just won’t be the same without the sprinkled nuts, offer to make two versions. Label them clearly on the buffet with different serving utensils. Use different utensils to both prepare and serve the dish, too. Cross-contamination is a serious concern for individuals with a nut allergy.
  4. BYO nut-free dishes. If you aren’t the one hosting Thanksgiving but you (or your child) are the one with the allergy, make sure to contact the host beforehand to let him or her know about the severity of the allergy. Offer to bring alternatives that are safe for you to consume, use different serving utensils at the buffet, or bring a separate meal entirely.
  5. Opt for nutty alternatives. Use safe alternatives for nuts that won’t change the recipe. Many people love pecan-topped sweet potatoes or slivered almonds sprinkled on top of sautéed green beans. You can still have all the traditional taste and flavor your family loves with these affordable and easy alternatives.:

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Nut-Free Thanksgiving Alternatives

Roast chickpeas in the oven for a crunchy bite on top of green beans or an addition to a salad. You can make them sweet or savory depending on the seasoning.

Stick to apple pie, pumpkin pie, and custard-based pies for dessert. You can try substituting puffed crispy rice cereal instead of pecans in favorite pecan pie recipe.

These simple tricks and swaps should help you and your Thanksgiving dinner guests enjoy all your favorite dishes sans nuts. For the allergic guest in attendance, having a nut-free environment for this important holiday will be immensely appreciated—and much, much safer.

Cybele Pascal

On Thanksgiving, we gather and we eat for upwards of four hours, all the way from pre-dinner snacks to post-dessert dessert. But a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is literally one of the most allergen-laden meals possible.Whether this is your first allergen-free Thanksgiving or your twentieth, the following tips will help make it festive, mouthwateringly delicious, and safe.

Talking Turkey:

Did you know that many fresh and frozen turkeys contain hidden allergens? Most conventional, “self-basted” turkeys have been injected with butter, water and salt, and may also contain gluten. If you’re going to go the conventional turkey route, always verify ingredients with the manufacturer before purchasing. A safer option is a “Natural” turkey, which hasn’t been treated with any artificial colors or flavor enhancing ingredients. Look for “Organic” natural turkeys at websites like Local Harvest, or stores like Whole Foods.

Another good option: natural “Kosher” turkey. Guaranteed to have no dairy injected, the benefit of a Kosher turkey is that it has already been salted, and thus doesn’t need brining. I recommend Empire, the taste test winner selected by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Empire turkeys are also gluten-free. If you’re a die-hard foodie, take the adventurous (albeit, most expensive) route and look for a “Heritage” turkey, which is one of the pre-World War II breeds of turkey, like Narragansett and Bourbon Red. Slow Food has a great listing of independent farmers raising Heritage turkeys, state by state. Looking for something similar to what our forefathers might have eaten? Save yourself the hunt, check out D’Artagnan, to purchase a wild bird.

Last, to keep your turkey allergen-free, baste with olive oil. There is no need for butter, and in fact I prefer turkey with olive oil.

Savory Side Dishes:

Make baked sweet potato and potato dishes using canola oil instead of butter, and orange juice or rice milk instead of milk or cream. I prefer yams/sweet potatoes without marshmallows, but if like them, look for Allerenergy marshmallows, or try vegan brands like VeganSweets, made without eggs or gelatin, but be forewarned that they contain the allergen SOY. Instead of plain rice, mix and match with old world gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, wild rice, and buckwheat. All of these combine well with legumes like lentils or chickpeas, and are wonderful when enhanced with fresh herbs like thyme and sage. Dip into the plentiful array of winter squash available this time of year–not just butternut and acorn, but delicata, red kuri, and sweet dumplings.

Gravy can be made with olive oil instead of butter, and alternate flours, such as brown rice flour for thickening, instead of traditional wheat flour. See my recipe for Allergy-Friendly Gravy below.

Try making roast brussel sprouts this year instead of drenching them in butter or hollandaise sauce. To roast, cook at 450 degrees on a baking tray, tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper, for 25 minutes, shaking once or twice until a crispy golden brown on the outside, and tender on the inside.

For cranberry sauce, omit walnuts (tree nuts), and use thinly sliced tangerines or mandarin oranges, keeping the rind on, to add texture and color.

For Pie, check out my cookbook, The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook for any number of wonderful allergen-free pie, crumble, and crisp recipes, from Pumpkin Pie, to Apple Cranberry Pie. Or see my new Allergy-Friendly Sweet Potato Pie recipe.

Remember: if you’re only doing a few allergen-free dishes rather than a whole allergy-friendly meal, be aware of cross contamination and cross contact while cooking and serving. Consider labeling dishes with ingredient cards. If the meal is going to be served buffet-style, serve the food allergic person first to avoid cross contamination.

What are fritters?

A fritter is a fried pastry or a pattie made with thick batter or breading filled with shredded or chopped veggies, meat, seafood, cheese, fruit or other ingredients. Fritter batter looks like something between a pancake batter and burger or pattie mixture. It’s thick and moist but not too runny. Fritters are usually shallow-fried or deep-fried in oil to achieve a crispy crust. They can be sweet or savoury.

You can often find fritters on breakfast and brunch menus in cafes. I still remember my first experience with corn fritters at Bills cafe on Crown Street in Sydney. They were a little more doughy than I like but so delicious. You might have seen recipes for zucchini fritters, sweet potato fritters and corn is often added because it gives them great texture and sweetness.

15 Nut-Free Holiday Cookies Anyone Will Love

Rather than frost after baking, Ree Drummond, host of the Food Network show The Pioneer Woman, brushes on a colored egg wash before the cookies go in the oven, which creates a stained-glass effect.

These colorful cookies take on the pattern of whatever decorative glass, like a vintage water tumbler, you use to press them out. The bottom of a crystal bowl or vase works well, too.

These ginger cookies are made with whole grain flour instead of white, but they also include a generous portion of chocolate chunks to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Ever wish you could make all your cookies look as good as they taste? In the book Art of the Cookie, food stylist Shelly Kaldunski teaches tricks of the trade to making professional-looking treats like these ethereal candy-cane-inspired tuiles.

Classic chocolate chip cookies get updated with pumpkin seeds and a hint of red chili pepper.

Roll sugar cookie dough in cinnamon-sugar to get a treat that's both a little sweet and a little spicy.

What could make a zingy gingersnap even better? Sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between two gingersnaps!

This version of the classic New York black-and-white cookie takes inspiration from candy canes, splitting the treat into red and white halves (you could also use green-gel food coloring for the white portion).

With jewel-toned flecks of fruits like cranberries, dates, prunes and apricots running through a cinnamon dough, they'll win your heart—and a place in your holiday cookie roster.

These delicious cookies have two unexpected ingredients: cream cheese, which helps keep them soft and orange zest, which lends a bright note and helps bring out the chocolate flavor even more.

Take these cookies out of the oven just when they are starting to crisp on the outside for extra chewy deliciousness.

Poppy seeds add both a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture, bringing a savory depth to this shortbread-style dough. Balance it all out with a healthy dunk into sweet melted chocolate.

Ever wanted to mix all your favorite treats in to one cookie? Here's your chance. If the thought of a crunchy, salty bite blended in to a soft, sugary dough doesn’t speak to you, well, you have some thinking to do.

Recipe Summary

  • 6 sweet potato -- cooked, peeled and mashed
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 2 quart casserole dish and set aside.

Blend together the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, salt, 3 tablespoons butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

Prepare the topping by mixing together the 1/3 cup butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Sprinkle over casserole and bake for 45 minutes or until hot.

Nut Free Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole.

There’s nothing like being thrown a curve ball like a new tree nut allergy right before the holidays. After we were told my son had a severe cashew allergy and we needed to get rid of all tree nuts, I started thinking about how we were headed straight into holiday nut season. It was a little daunting, to be honest.

Roasted nuts, candied nuts, nuts in breads, nuts as gifts…the holiday season includes a lot of nuts.

Of course, we adapted, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make delicious, nut free versions of my favorite holiday recipes.

First on the list was making a nut free vegan sweet potato casserole. I’m used to a nutty version, kind of like this. I used to like the crunch of pecans with the creamy sweet potatoes.

Of course, the question was, what could I add to the topping to give it a good crunch?

I could have gone with seeds I guess, but I thought I would try a crunchy oat streusel topping.

I know I’ve seen some sweet potato casseroles that include oats along with pecans, so I thought I could go with just oats! And it was delicious. Because this isn’t a dessert, and because I love the salty sweet thing, I added more salt to the streusel than I would have if this was a fruit crisp.

Tips & Tricks For This Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing

  1. Please please please be sure to use stale bread. Preferably, it should be at least one day old.
  2. Totally optional, but if you happen to have some on hand, I like to garnish the stuffing with some chopped fresh parsley or cilantro. Gives it that kick of freshness.
  3. Additionally, I like to cube up the bread in advance to save some time on turkey day. This also helps it get stale a bit faster … double win.
  4. You can also cook the veggies ahead of time so all you have to do is assemble and bake when ready to enjoy.

Additional Thanksgiving Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.

Sustainable kitchen tips, tricks, and tools

Below are a few tips and tricks to make the most out of your mousse a chocolate ingredients and continue to build your sustainable kitchen skills:

  • Choose Fair Trade chocolate: Choose Fair Trade chocolate when possible to support ethically-sources chocolate growers. We like eco-friendly brands Alter Eco for chocolate bars and Pascha for chocolate chips for allergen-friendly chocolate chips we turn to Enjoy Life (affiliate links).
  • Reuse the chickpeas: Don’t toss those chickpeas! Reuse the chickpeas after draining for aquafaba in Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Salad, 5-Minute Chickpea Basil Pesto (nut-free!), or Za'atar Chickpea Leek Salad.
  • Recommended tools:glass mixing bowls, kitchen stand mixer, handheld electric mixer, whisk, environmentally-friendly cookware, ramekins or small glass dishes (affiliate links).

Tips & Tricks For This Holiday Corn

  1. This is a FANTASTIC make ahead dish for the holidays. You can make the entire thing in advance. Let it cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. All you’ll need to do is reheat on Thanksgiving / Christmas / whenever.
  2. I tend to stick with the listed fresh parsley when making this corn, but I think some minced fresh rosemary or even fresh thyme (instead of the dried) would be delightful. Really, this is a great base for just about any fresh herb.
  3. And finally, I’ve only ever made this dish with frozen corn since I tend to make it during cooler weather. But! If you are making this during the summer I think it would be fantastic with fresh. You’ll want to cook the fresh corn until tender and then just proceed with the recipe.

Additional Holiday Side Dishes You Might Enjoy:

Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.

Nut-Free Paleo Pancakes with Triple Berry Compote

I’m finding more and more people have nut allergies or sensitivities to nuts. Ironically, I never had a problem with nuts (or so I thought), until after I was diagnosed with celiac and went paleo.

One of the first things newbie paleo peeps do is consume an inordinate amount of almond flour. As one of the primary paleo flours, you unwittingly consume far more almonds (via flour) than you ever did previously. This can then trigger a sensitivity to almonds that you never had before. That’s what happened with me. Accidental almond overdose!

After removing almonds for a good period of time (an almond detox), I’m now able to eat them again in small amounts. Thankfully. But if you still have a sensitivity to almonds or other nut flours, this nut-free paleo pancake recipe is for you.

Now, given that the predominant flour used in this recipe is coconut flour, it does have more of a coconut flavor versus the Classic Paleo Pancake recipe, but it’s not overpowering. And trust me, I’d be the first to admit it if it was. In fact, I think it strikes a perfect balance with the tapioca flour. But just like my classic paleo pancakes, these nut-free paleo pancakes are light, fluffy and delicious. Which, is unlike many coconut pancake recipes that resemble dense hockey pucks. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Anyway, if you’re looking for a nut-free paleo pancake option, you should definitely give these a try. They’re a reader favorite! You could also use this recipe as the base for my Paleo Chocolate Waffles. And if you’re interested in a nut-free cookie option, check out my Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies.

PS – if you see specs in the nut-free paleo pancakes below it’s because I used ground vanilla bean as I was out of vanilla extract. Ground vanilla bean is a great little tool in your kitchen pantry arsenal!