Christmas food

Following a turbulent year which has seen both national and regional lockdown restrictions being enforced, it looks like Santa should be stopping via the UK. With plans for a Christmas Bubble having been laid out by the UK government, we should be able to meet, greet and eat together come the 25th December.

As we all know, a delicious Christmas dinner is the main event of the day, but if you’re hosting someone who falls into the 2 million+ people who suffer from food allergies in the UK (NARF), cooking your meal may require a little more planning and preparation.

To help make the process go as smoothly as possible, catering expert Alliance Online has pulled together five easy ways you can accommodate dietary requirements during the festive period.

1. Make smart ingredient swaps

Ingredient Swap

Accommodating different dietary requirements doesn’t always mean you need to hunt for brand-new recipes or make multiple/alternate versions of one dish. With a few smart ingredient swaps, you can still enjoy all your usual festive favourites which can incorporate all dietary requirements.

One easy change is choosing gluten-free flour for Yorkshire puddings and festive baking. This will give your dishes the same taste and rise just like normal flour, but they’ll be safe for those who suffer with Coeliac disease. Gluten-free flour is also perfect for thickening sauces and gravies, but you can also use corn flour.

If you’re catering for vegan family members or those who suffer lactose intolerance, use a mixture of unsweetened soya milk and water opposed to cow’s milk in your Yorkshire pudding mixture. Another smart swap is instead of butter or animal fat, to make your roast potatoes extra crispy by utilising oils such as olive oil.

Stuffing can be tough, but traditional sage and onion can cater to almost every dietary requirement, especially when paired with gluten-free bread. Equally, you can make your usual stuffing recipe vegan by using olive oil spread and apple sauce instead of butter and eggs.

2. Double check packaging

While you’re out doing the annual Christmas food shop, remember to check the packaging for any allergens or dietary warnings, especially on prepared foods such as Christmas pudding. Pay close attention to the ingredients list, as allergens are usually listed here in bold.

Foods which are vegetarian and vegan should explicitly state on the packaging. However, bear in mind that ‘suitable for vegetarians’ doesn’t always mean vegan-friendly. For common allergens and the foods they’re found in, check the wheel below.

food allergens

3. Make everything from scratch

Christmas Cooking

For piece of mind and to ensure you know exactly what’s gone into your food this holiday season, you could always make everything from scratch. If you stick to a simple menu limiting yourself to just one or two meats, sauces, and a handful of vegetables, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare before your guests arrive.

To help Christmas day kitchen time to a minimum, you can prep some items, such as stuffing, cranberry and bread sauce, vegetables, and desserts the day before. Then, all you’ll need to do is put everything in the oven on the day so you can spend more time with your loved ones.

4. Prepare dishes separately

Allergy Safety

If you’re catering for someone with an intolerance or dietary preference, remember to prepare their allergen-free versions separately to ensure no cross contamination. You’ll want to use different knives, chopping boards, utensils, bowls, and roasting trays for these foods/ingredients. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching allergens to avoid spreading traces of them to other dishes or around your home, especially if the individual(s) have particularly sensitive allergies.

Be sure to visit our dietary requirements cooking utensils shop for allergen cookware.

Even a tiny trace of an allergen has the potential to be serious. So, before prepping your Christmas dinner, it’s a good idea to give your utensils another thorough wash in warm soapy water. This will ensure there are no allergens left over from their previous use.

5. Serve dishes separately

Serving Christmas Food

Instead of plating up Christmas dinner for each person, it may be a better idea to lay everything out in serving dishes in the middle of the table, along with separate serving cutlery for each dish. As such, everyone can help themselves to whatever foods they want to eat, and family members can avoid any foods they’re intolerant or allergic to. This is also great for any fussy eaters who may be present at the table too.

“Food allergies and intolerances have the potential to be incredibly serious, but they’re so easy to cater for. Of course, the majority of a Christmas dinner is made up of vegetables which can be eaten by almost anyone. With that and a little bit of extra planning and preparation, you can easily make your usual Christmas dinner suitable for all of the family.
All you need to do is make a few ingredient swaps and double check any packaging whilst you’re out shopping, making sure it’s free of any allergens, meat, or dairy. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Cooking your food from scratch can be a great way to avoid any allergens, and the extra homemade element can make your Christmas dinner that bit more special this year. The internet is full of recipes that can cater to different dietary requirements, so there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.
Of course, you don’t need to avoid your favourite festive foods completely. For example, what would Christmas be without pigs in blankets? To keep this seasonal favourite on dinner plates for the whole family, you can always find vegan and vegetarian alternatives that are just as tasty. Just make sure you keep ingredients like meat, dairy, and those that contain allergens away from the rest of your food while they’re being stored, prepared, and served.

— Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager of Alliance Online”

5 simple ways to accommodate dietary requirements this Christmas
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5 simple ways to accommodate dietary requirements this Christmas
Christmas is a time for family and friends and that is especially important this year. So make sure your Christmas dinner is safe for all with our guide to cooking for those with dietary requirements. Ensure everyone can enjoy your cooking this festive season.