Welcome the coziness of the first snowfall and the friendly twinkle of Christmas lights this holiday season without the stress that accompanies hidden food allergens.  As menus reintroduce holiday flavors and seasonal delights, its time refresh your knowledge of hidden holiday allergen sources. To help you avoid the dangers of hidden allergens, we put together a list of the top holiday curveballs.

Appetizers that commonly have hidden allergens

When it comes to common holiday appetizers, allergens can be hidden in recipes. Keep a close look out for allergens that may not be evident, especially in these popular apps:  

  • Cheese platters can conceal gluten in moldy cheeses where bread helped start mold growth.
  • Cracker platters may camouflage ground tree nuts in flavored or wheat-free varieties.
  • Dips easily hide dairy, soy and wheat ingredients.
  • Nut bowls can be an easy source of cross contact among appetizer tables.
  • Seasonal soups may be made from cream or stocks hiding shellfish, fish, soy or wheat. Be especially cautious of ladles and avoid mixing serving utensils.

Keep an eye out for these main courses

The shining stars of the holiday meal are also key considerations for food allergies.  From mashed potatoes to casseroles, food allergens are popular among the holiday entrée scene.  Here are a few key tips to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid dairy by keeping an eye out for anything creamed, ending in gratin or described as buttery.
  • Turkey bastings may contain wheat.
  • Stuffed turkey can contain tree nuts and soy. 
  • Gravies can feature flour and nuts.
  • Cranberry sauce may find crunch from tree nuts.
  • Stuffing seasoning blends may contain wheat.
  • Stuffing moistened with stock can introduce soy.
  • Dinner rolls may feature wheat, dairy and soy.
  • Casseroles may mask dairy, wheat or tree nuts.

Don’t forget about allergens in desserts!

After a comforting Thanksgiving meal, there’s nothing like indulging in a slice of pumpkin pie or sipping on warm cocoa.  Keep food allergens at bay during dessert by looking out for these products:

  • Ground nuts in pie crusts.
  • Chocolate products containing dairy and soy.
  • Marzipan decorations made with eggs and tree nuts.
  • Cheesecakes hiding wheat, dairy, egg, soy and (in some cases), nuts.

From appetizers to desserts, enjoy a delicious meal this holiday season without the woes that accompany food allergens.  Remember to read labels and remain aware of ingredients while dining out or serving guests.  

Let’s talk about salt!

Worried about sodium this holiday season?  According to Cooking Light magazine, four ounces of white meat can absorb nearly 100 milligrams of sodium during a 12-hour brine soak while dark meat absorbs nearly 180 milligrams.  The greatest absorption of sodium occurs in the first 12 hours of soaking.  To control your sodium intake this holiday season, cut back on salt in gravy or side dishes.