Food allergies and/or intolerances have increased over the past decade. It is more common now to know someone who follows a specific diet due to allergies or intolerances than ever before. Many who are dealing with food allergies or intolerances can be fearful to try new dishes or eat outside of their homes. Adapting to a new way of eating can be a learning curve, but there are many allergen-free meals and snacks that are safe, healthy, and most importantly, tasty. If you are entertaining this Spring, it’s a good idea to keep food allergies or intolerances in mind when planning and we’re here to help!
If you know someone with a food allergy or food intolerance it is usually safe to offer a snack or dish with fresh vegetables. The chances are very low for someone to be allergic or sensitivities to greenhouse grown produce. It is always best to double-check with your guests about their food sensitivities so that everyone coming to your table feels comfortable and at ease with what is being served. Reaching out before you plan your menu will help guests feel included and less anxious about if there will be items available that they can enjoy.
COMMON FOOD ALLERGENS
Based on U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) research, food allergies and food sensitivities affect millions of Americans. To protect these individuals, the FDA enforces regulations requiring companies to list ingredients on packaged foods and beverages. There are now 8 common food allergens:
- Tree Nuts
As well stated on the FDA website, more than 160 foods have been identified to cause food allergies in sensitive individuals. There are also several food ingredients that cause nonallergic hypersensitivity reactions in sensitive individuals, and these also require specific labeling. The FDA monitors the food supply to determine if other allergens such as gluten, food ingredients, or food additives also pose a significant health risk and acts accordingly.
SIMPLICITY IS KEY
Whether you, a family member or a friend live with an intolerance or food allergy, the task to serve healthy and safe meals can be daunting, especially if this is a new learning curve. Instead of worrying about food labels and all the hidden ingredients that “may contain”, simplicity is key. A safe bet is to stick to natural produce and reap the benefits of nutrient dense snacks and create meals that include protein, good carbohydrates with fibre, and healthy fats. Setting up a buffet or menu that avoids the top 8 allergens in most cases ensures there are options for everyone. There are some great vegan dips that are soy, nut, and wheat-free, which can all be served with fresh vegetables, plain rice crackers, or corn tortilla chips.
It is always best to make dips fresh to avoid sulphites and preservatives, plus of course the added joy of creating something special for those you love:
BALSAMIC TOMATO DIP
A healthy protein-rich dip with juicy Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes, black beans, and avocados all combined with a balsamic vinaigrette.
ORGANIC TOMATO BASIL HUMMUS
Featuring fresh Organic Luna® Sweets Cocktail Tomatoes, blended with seasonings and garbanzo beans for a smooth and creamy delightful dip.
GARLIC ROSEMARY DIP
A nourishing dip using cannellini beans served with fresh, crunchy Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers.
YOU DO MAKE FRIENDS WITH SALAD!
If you are entertaining, a good habit to get into is offering a salad option for your guests with dressings that are free from the top 8 allergens. A yummy garden salad with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, served with a vinaigrette is probably the safest option, but there are also many other creative salad ideas that are fresh, flavorful, and easy to make.
QUINOA TOMATO SALAD
Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes and Long English Cucumbers mixed with quinoa, cilantro, and lemon juice for a light meal or side dish.
SAVORY CUCUMBER AND PEACH SALAD
Crunchy Poco Bites® Cocktail Cucumbers and sweetest Georgia peaches make this salad an instant classic.
FRESH FATTOUSH SALAD WITH MINI CUCUMBERS
Crisp and refreshing Mini Cucumbers pair perfectly with a sweet pomegranate dressing in this fresh Fattoush Salad.
Don’t feel stuck to only serving salads! If your guests eat meat, it is best to keep it simple with seasonings as some seasonings may contain wheat or soy. Sticking to pure olive oil is also ideal as some other oils may contain soybean or may have traces of nuts. A fun recipe that is simple to make for your next gathering is Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas. It can be served with a lettuce wrap, corn tortillas, or as a salad bowl giving plenty of allergen-free or food intolerance options.
Grilling, sautéing, and roasting vegetables are also delicious! A little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper with Craft House Collection® Aurora Long Sweet Peppers is amazing with a barbecued steak or chicken. Grilling RedRoyals® Sweet Cherry Tomatoes On-The-Vine enhances tomatoes with smoky char while preserving their majestically sweet flavor.
So with this new season here and everyone starting to feel like entertaining again, it is always a good idea to double-check with your guests about their food sensitivities. Everyone is unique and it is ok to include your guests in the planning. If they are aware of the planning and preparation, they may feel the food is safer and be more comfortable at your table. The simple recipes above are free from the top 8 common food allergens and packed with fresh greenhouse grown produce making them great choices for all the guests around your table!