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How To Accommodate Guests With Food Allergies: Holiday Dessert Edition

Planning a great holiday spread for your family and friends is difficult enough as it is. Whether you design a whole meal or just one dish to pass around, you have to consider whatever everyone likes, making sure that you’re preparing enough for each person, and how you’ll source the ingredients. But as people become increasingly selective in their diets, the task of creating even simple desserts is much more complex than it once was. Of course, it’s one thing if you’re catering to vegans and vegetarians, who choose to go without certain types of food. They can decide for themselves whether or not they’ll break their diets, though you’ll ideally want to give them something to eat.

However, dealing with food allergies is another issue entirely. People who suffer from food allergies and sensitivities don’t have a choice in what they’re able to consume. There are risks incidental to serving a holiday meal — creating a food that is ill-received or unattractive, for example — but an allergic reaction could ruin a night or even kill someone.

It’s difficult enough to prepare savory dishes that don’t send someone with specific allergies to the doctor. But what about desserts? Simple desserts are key to the holidays, but many of the most classic desserts contain ingredients that could trigger serious allergic reactions. Many people are hesitant to “compromise” on their desserts, largely because they feel as if they’re going to lose out on the flavor. The fact is, however, that you need to prioritize your loved ones’ health over following traditional recipes. Furthermore, if you practice the correct kitchen procedures and ensure that everything is labeled properly, you can possibly serve the typical simple desserts to other guests, while your guests with food allergies eat desserts made especially for them. It really depends on how easily triggered their reactions are — which is why you need to do your research and ask as many questions as possible. There are a few different food allergies that are more common than others. These include peanut allergies (which affect almost 2.5% of American children), gluten allergies, and lactose intolerance. We’re focusing on simple desserts that can work for people with these specific types of allergies. Remember that the holidays can be tricky for people with these allergies, so you should try to do what you can to make them easier! And believe us when we say that there are allergy-friendly desserts that don’t taste like total garbage. Let’s break these recipes down.

Peanut Allergies

Peanut allergies can range greatly in severity. While some people simply break out in a rash when exposed to peanuts, others can be deathly allergic to these legumes. Either way, people with these types of allergies will often need immediate treatment when exposed, at either the emergency room or an urgent care center.

Unfortunately, a lot of classic holiday desserts include peanuts. Peanut butter cookies — especially the “blossom” cookies with chocolate Kisses on top of them — are often served around Christmas time. Christmas is also known for pies and other desserts that include different kinds of nuts, which may be produced alongside peanuts. Many people with peanut allergies can’t even eat foods that have been prepared in the same space as peanuts.

As such, a lot of people with peanut allergies prefer to eschew such ingredients entirely. One peanut-friendly simple dessert may involve Chocolate Rainbow Bites. These desserts are made with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds. These are meant to be free from most major food allergies, which makes them ideal for the holidays. They’re also easy to make, involving refrigeration rather than traditional baking (which means that they’re flourless). Of course, dried fruit doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. But these cookies are not at all intimidating — and if it’s your first time making allergy-friendly food, these simple desserts are a great place to start. They’re even better if they’re made with dark chocolate morsels, rather than super sugary traditional chocolate chips.

If you’d rather skip out on the chocolate and fruit, you may want to try a delicious brown sugar-topped cinnamon sugar coffee cake, complete with a vanilla cream cheese glaze. Now, this particular dessert isn’t necessarily going to work for people with multiple allergies. But it’s certainly free of peanuts and it offers several unique flavors for the adventurous dessert lovers. This both evokes the flavors of coffee and cinnamon toast, warming people up just in time for the holiday season. The cream cheese flavor adds in a little bit of an extra kick, which makes this the perfect dessert for adults, who might not want to overload on too much sweetness. Furthermore, being able to offer a cake to people with nut allergies means that you can serve many people at once while putting in relatively little effort. It might not be a super traditional holiday dessert, but you would certainly be able to show some pride in this unique cake.

simple desserts

On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that you’ll want to offer something that is a bit more traditional. Many people with peanut allergies have to miss out on traditional desserts, even simple desserts that the rest of us take for granted over time. If you’re seeking out traditional desserts that work for people with peanut allergies, you may be a bit nervous, and unsure about what to look for at first. You may want to simply look abroad. There are plenty of traditional desserts that you don’t see quite as often in America — and in many countries, peanut butter is not an easy to find ingredient! For that reason, you may want to try making the classically French creme brulee for the holidays. Creme brulee may seem intimidating and it isn’t necessarily the easiest dessert to make in the world. But for the French, it’s still considered quite a simple dessert. When you really look at the ingredients, there isn’t much that’s too complex. It’s largely cream, with vanilla, sugar, and a few other ingredients. With that being said, the preparation is where you can run into a bit of confusion. We suggest trying to make this dessert at least once before the holidays, just to make sure it’s right for you. You’d be surprised by how easy it actually is to make this dessert, and everyone will be dazzled by your efforts by the time the holiday meal comes around — especially those who have peanut allergies. Keep in mind that making them more comfortable is the true reward and is perhaps the among the most meaningful holiday gifts that you can give them.

Gluten Allergies

A lot of people, unfortunately, don’t take gluten allergies and intolerances very seriously. While many people have willingly cut gluten out of their diets in order to lose weight or boost their metabolisms, many are genuinely allergic to gluten. Those who have gluten allergies need the same kind of emergency care, should they ingest gluten, as anyone with a more widely-known allergy. Many gluten allergies are linked to celiac disease, which can have long-term impacts on sufferers’ bodies. In fact, some women have even linked fertility problems to celiac disease. Many people who consume gluten without realizing that they have allergies struggle to gain weight, or even lose weight over time. In the short term, gluten allergies can cause rashes, as well as intense abdominal pain.

simple desserts

Fortunately, due to the fact that many people are electively cutting gluten from their diets, there are many simple desserts on the market that lack gluten entirely. Many of these desserts are based in chocolate, in part because chocolate lacks flour, but still acts as a sort of “glue” for the overall structure of the dessert. A classic dessert lacking gluten is the flourless chocolate cake. Flourless chocolate cake really isn’t a dessert that requires much sacrifice; it’s delicious and rich, and one of the traditional simple desserts that can be found in many restaurants. You won’t feel like you’re giving up much by eating it. At the same time, it’s not all that difficult to make. Now, this kind of cake can’t be found in a pre-made box mix. It’s certainly true that it requires a bit more time and effort spent over a hot stove. But it’s completely worth it, and the dessert has a wide appeal.

With that being said, if you want to create something with a bit more flair — and an adult spin — you may want to try the gluten-free chocolate dessert shots. These simple desserts look much harder to make than they actually are. They can either be made like the typical recipe dictates, which essentially gives you chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and chocolate chips — or you can get a little creative and add a bit of an alcoholic beverage into the mix. Although — because you never know what you’re getting when you buy liquor — you’ll want to make sure that the shot is gluten-free as well.

Of course, you should keep in mind that not everyone loves chocolate. What are you going to do for people who hate chocolate, but can’t eat gluten? Why not try the gluten free apple dessert? This dessert is obviously apple-based and may seem like it contains gluten. However, the streusel crust is actually based on gluten-free flour. It also contains a good amount of butter and nuts — so it won’t necessarily work for everyone with food allergies. You may have to accept that if you’re making desserts for multiple people with different allergies, you’ll have to make multiple different desserts, catering to each allergy. Nonetheless, if you stick to simple desserts, it’s a lot easier to handle than you might imagine.

Lactose Intolerance

Most people who are lactose intolerant don’t have immediate reactions to lactose — but they definitely have reactions over time. Due to this issue, and the fact that lactose intolerance often intensifies over time, lots of people don’t get diagnosed with lactose intolerance until they’re older. People with lactose intolerance often suffer from nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after eating lactose products. Unfortunately, a lot of foods contain lactose, even if you don’t quite realize it. Dairy products are especially integral to a number of classic desserts. This can make the holidays a struggle for people with this intolerance. Luckily, there are recipes available if you want to avoid lactose products.

A lot of lactose intolerant people feel as if they miss out on creamier desserts, understandably. Which is why we’re recommending you try dark chocolate hazelnut tarts with fresh strawberries. These tarts are actually raw, which means that they’re simple to make, with dark chocolate ganache filling and strawberry toppings. The juxtaposition of strawberries against dark chocolate — which can be dairy-free, unlike obviously, milk chocolate — is an amazing mixture of flavor. For that matter, these treats are quite pretty to look at, which is of the keys to fantastic desserts.

If you’d rather go against a chocolate treat for the next lactose-free dessert, you may want to opt for easy mini pecan pies. These simple desserts are not only free of dairy but are truly classic. When you make them in a smaller form, you’ll benefit from being able to offer them individually. These pies are perfect for Thanksgiving, of course; but you may also want to offer them around Christmastime, due to their classic flavor. They’re ideal for people who’d like to try traditional, simple desserts without compromising on their dietary restrictions.

Finally, if you’d like to make sure that you’re avoiding lactose and going completely vegan during the holidays — try no rise pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls! These cinnamon rolls are perfect for transitioning in the cooler seasons, full of spices without being overwhelmingly sweet. A lot of people find that they can be overwhelmed by sugar, even in seemingly simple desserts meant for people with food allergies. They’re simple desserts that are easy to make, and accommodating to both your lactose intolerant and vegan guests.

Ultimately, it’s not easy to cook for people with food allergies if you’ve never had to do it before. But it’s much better to be accommodating than to make people feel uncomfortable about eating at your house and worried about inattention to detail endangering their health. Take the time, do your research — and you’ll have great desserts!