Your allergy-free Christmas
Dreaming of an allergy-free Christmas? Get help with author Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne’s seasonal food survival kit. Plus, where to buy allergy-friendly products.
Christmas can be an anxious time for people prone to allergies. Nuts, gluten-heavy flour, cream, butter and cheese are all foods commonly used in traditional Christmas dishes, which can make this a tricky time for sufferers.
It needn’t be so, but you need to be prepared to cook from scratch. The roast turkey itself isn’t too much of a problem, but the trimmings are often packed with allergy offenders; and Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies normally contain butter, wheat flour and nuts.
Don’t despair. Home-made versions of all these can easily be adapted to suit your needs – and the good news is they can all be made well before the mad Christmas rush begins.
Replace nuts in…
Stuffing: try replacing chopped nuts and chestnuts with dried cranberries or roughly chopped apricots.
Puddings and pies: chopped nuts – used to add crunch – can be replaced with an equal quantity of roughly chopped apricots or dried figs.
Christmas pudding: substituted ground nuts with an equal quantity of plain flour and another tablespoon of butter or margarine for a little more richness. If you use margarine in your baking, check the label to make sure it does not contain nut-based oils.
Christmas cake: marzipan is made with ground almonds and almond essence, and so, instead, decorate your cake with dried, glazed fruit. Alternatively, brush with apricot jam and cover with home-made or bought fondant icing, rolled to 7mm thick to hide any bumps. Both methods should be done no earlier than a week before Christmas.
Replace gluten in…
Starters: For a gluten-free soup, substitute wheat flour with an equal quantity of rice flour or cornflour for thickening. Replace gluten-rich wheat noodles, pasta or pearl barley in recipes with gluten-free rice, buckwheat noodles or rice and millet pasta, beans, pulses and gluten-free bread.
Stuffing: sausagemeat stuffing usually contains ‘rusk’ – toasted breadcrumbs. You can make your own sausagemeat using gluten-free breadcrumbs, but these can make the stuffing taste heavy. Instead, try making this brown or white rice-based stuffing as a light, crumbly and delicious alternative.
Gravy: start with a good home-made turkey stock. When you come to thicken the gravy, replace the 25g plain flour with an equal quantity of rice flour or corn flour.
Bread Sauce: substitute traditional white breadcrumbs for an equal quantity of gluten-free white breadcrumbs.
Cakes and puddings: replace plain flour with a gluten-free mixture of 50% rice flour, 25% ground almonds and 25% cornflour. For gluten-free self-raising flour, add 1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder for every 110g gluten-free flour. To ensure the cake is moist, light and holds together, use 3 eggs for every 110g flour called for in the recipe. Replace breadcrumbs in Christmas pudding with an equal quantity of gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Find all of our gluten-free Christmas recipes here including nut-, gluten- and dairy-free mince pies, gluten-free Christmas puddings and cakes.
Liquids: watch out for barley wine, stout and ale as these all contain gluten. Gluten-free alternatives include apple or orange juice, rum, brandy, Earl Grey Tea and Grand Marnier.
Replace dairy in…
Starters: for a dairy-free soup, substitute any milk in the recipe with home-made stock, soya milk or rice milk. Thicken with a roux made from 2 tablespoons of neutral-flavoured vegetable oil as a substitute for every 40g butter.
Roast turkey: use olive oil rather than butter to moisten the bird.
Bread Sauce: use soya milk instead of cow’s milk and omit butter or cream.
Cakes and puddings: replace butter with an equal quantity of dairy-free margarine, and milk with the same amount of soya or rice milk. Suet, commonly used as the principle fat in Christmas pud, is dairy free.
Brandy butter: this tastes oily if you substitute the butter with margarine. As a dairy-free alternative, make home-made crème anglaise (custard sauce) with soya milk, and flavour it with orange zest and a splash of Grand Marnier.
Allergy-friendly products and producers
Many supermarkets have responded to the demand for more ‘free-from’ products, i.e. foods without gluten, nuts and dairy. Check out Morrisons’ award-winning range, Tesco’s cheese crackers and Marks & Spencer’s mince pies. Find more information on free-from products here.
The Gluten Free Kitchen
A Yorkshire bakery producing gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free cakes and puds.
St Helen’s Farm
Producers of goat’s milk, butter, cheese and cream. More than 70% of people intolerant to cow’s milk report an easing of symptoms when substituting goat’s milk.
Dairy-free spread ideal for baking. From leading supermarkets.
Great wheat- and gluten-free biscuits for cheese. Available in big supermarkets and some Holland & Barrett stores.
A range of products, including biscuits, crackers and breadcrumbs, suitable for coeliac sufferers.
Bake to Taste
Gluten-free Christmas cake and mince pies. From health food shops, delis or online.