We have covered allergies to gluten and soy, today we look at nuts and seeds.
I (Natala if you weren’t sure) almost killed my husband with nuts before we got married.. The thing is that I knew about his nut allergy, however I did NOT know about cross contamination nor did I know that some packaged food would have nuts in it even if it wasn’t obvious! I had made a cake that had a few ingredients that I thought were nut free, but were not. The result? My now husband (then crush) started swelling up like a balloon. Thankfully he is a forgiving guy, and I learned how to check and double check everything that comes into our house. (our house is completely nut free). That is a lie, we are nuts, but that is an entire different blog post.
Nuts are a serious allergy, and to our knowledge are the only food allergy that can cause death almost instantly. For those of you who do not know about nut allergies, it is important to know a few things:
Cross contamination is serious business. If you are having someone over to your home that has a nut allergy and you plan to cook, be sure to use separate utensils/cooking pans if you are also using nuts in a dish. Better yet – skip the nuts all together to be on the safe side.
Many people do not know that the peanut is an airborne allergy as well, so if you are serving something with peanuts and you have a guest that is allergic to peanuts, they could be in big trouble.This is why it is such a big issue in schools, if there is a child allergic to peanuts, just being around a child eating peanut butter can cause the child with the allergy to become very sick (or worse). If your child is in school, try switching to sunflower butter or using seeds instead (which are not airborne allergies).
I also found out the hard way about airborne allergies with my husband. On one of our first dates I wanted to go to this Asian place – well the place used tons of peanuts in other dishes. Even though my husband was not eating anything with nuts, he soon felt ill and started to experience the same symptoms he has when he consumes a peanuts.
Wow, looking back on things – it’s really amazing he still took a chance on me.
Another note – if you have a child that does not like nuts, it might be a sign that they have an allergy. It might be best to get them tested to be on the safe side.
For more information on nut allergies you can check out this WebMD article.
What to do if you have a nut/seed allergy:
First it is important to know: You do not need to eat nuts or seeds to be healthy. You will get every thing you need from a plant-strong diet that is absent of nuts and seeds. In fact, Dr. Esselstyn’s diet for “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” encourages people to greatly limit and eliminate nuts all together. You will get your healthy fats from plants, and you do not have to worry about adding any extra. If you have a child and are worried about them getting enough fat, you can add avocado or tofu to their diet to up their fat intake. If your child is allergic to nuts but not seeds you can also add in seeds or seed butter.
If a recipe calls for nuts or seeds:
We have found that you can often substitute beans in savory recipes. All of the flavors still go really well together. We really like using chickpeas when we’re substituting for nuts. We’ve also used lentils in place of nuts in savory recipes.
In recipes calling for nut based flour: use any other flour or for nut based ‘meal’ try using corn meal instead.
“Cheese” sauce: We’ve found that simply using nutritional yeast and water and something to thicken it up a bit – like some mashed up potatoes works great. You can also use a thickening agent to do the trick. You can also use tofu (silken works well for sauce). For people who do not like nutritional yeast, you can make a savory ‘spread’ or sauce using mashed up potatoes or chickpeas, and then adding savory spices like: garlic, pepper, mustard powder, tumeric and a little hot sauce.
Oats are a great substitute.
Depending on the recipe, often you can just skip the nuts all together, you can add something like raisins if you are looking for another texture in the recipe. For instance, in our mighty muffin recipe you can skip the walnuts all together and you will still have a great tasting mighty muffin!
Another thing you can try is using whole grain rice crisps (depending on the recipe).
And lastly in some recipes bran works great.
The bottom line is that even if you have a nut or seed allergy you can still thrive and be satisfied on a plant-strong diet.
Do you have a nut or seed allergy? What are some of your strategies?