As the festive season fast approaches, households across the UK will be stocking up on seasonal treats to indulge in over the Christmas holidays. However, if you have a dairy or gluten intolerance, allergy or suffer with coeliac disease, you may feel you’re missing out on traditional festive treats. Don’t let allergies ruin your yuletide fun. Christine Bailey Nutritionist and Chef shares some helpful tips to enjoy those festive favourites.
If you’ve been invited to a party take some allergy free goodies with you. Make or buy gluten free mince pies using a gluten free flour mix such as Doves Farm and soy margarine spread instead of butter for the pastry. Check the ingredients in shop bought mincemeat as some contain gluten or simply make your own.
Homemade blinis are a delicious option as a canapé or starter and can be topped with a wide range of ingredients such as smoked salmon, prawns, avocado, roast beef and horseradish or Christmas chutney. Try our delicious gluten and dairy free blinis with creamy roasted red pepper spread. Use buckwheat and, or gluten free flour mix with a milk alternative such as soya milk, and for a cheese alternative use the range of soya cheese spreads available.
Bags of nuts and seeds and dried fruit are easy healthy options that make ideal hassle free party snacks. Watch the crisps especially flavoured varieties as they often contain gluten. Bags of vegetable crisps and fruit crisps are typically gluten and dairy free.
If you like your beer thankfully there are many gluten free varieties now available. Mulled wine is a popular party favourite or for a creamy option make up your own Egg Nog style drink using almond milk blended with nuts, banana and dates for a healthy dairy free option.
Those Little Extras
For making gravy, use cornflour or arrowroot to thicken rather than traditional wheat flour. You can add a dash of dry sherry, brandy or wine for extra flavour. For bread sauce see our recipe which uses soya milk and gluten free bread for a delicious allergy free version.
If you love mashed vegetables such as carrot, butternut squash or sweet potato add a spoonful of soy spread instead of butter and a little coconut milk to create a wonderful creamy texture. Cook carrots in orange juice for a non-dairy flavour boost. Drizzle with a touch of maple syrup or honey for an indulgent treat. You can roast or cook vegetables using a drizzle of olive oil or try coconut oil or goose fat, which are stable at high temperatures and create a wonderful crisp texture for roast potatoes.
For stuffing, try our gluten free sausagemeat stuffing or simply follow your favourite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free bread and switch to soy spread if butter is required. Remember many sausages contain gluten so look for those labelled gluten free.
Christmas puddings typically contain gluten and dairy but you can make your own pudding by substituting gluten free breadcrumbs, gluten free flour and ground almonds in the recipe to help hold the mixture together and switching to soya spread instead of butter.
Rather than brandy butter or cream make up your own dairy free custard using cornflour and egg yolks to thicken the mixture and a milk alternative such as soya milk. You can also use Tesco's chocolate coconut milk to make a wonderful chocolate custard (see recipe##). If you love trifle use free from cake bars for the base and top with fruit, dairy free custard and soy yogurt instead of cream.
If you’re looking for an alternative celebratory dessert to the Christmas pudding try our pavlova recipe using soya fruit yogurt for a lighter, healthier option rather than double cream.
Many chocolates contain dairy so make sure you check the labels. You can buy dairy free chocolate chips, which can be used, in a variety of homemade sweet treats such as tiffin or chocolate brownies. Check the free from aisle too for a range of snack bars, which make easy standby treats for the children.
If you’re new to cooking allergy free find a few “easy” gluten and dairy-free recipes to start with by looking through our range of recipes on our website. Many of these can be made in advance and frozen or stored for a later time. Experiment with the wide variety of milk alternatives available such as soya milk, hemp, almond, rice and coconut milk. If a recipe calls for evaporated milk, soya milk makes a great alternative or you can boil down 500ml (17fl oz) soya milk to half its volume for a creamier substitute.
Instead of cream try soya cream or coconut cream (the top part of a can of chilled full fat coconut milk) and tofu. Tofu offers versatility, based upon the type you purchase. Soft will yield a light cream when pureed, which can be sweetened with honey, or sugar, while extra-firm will produce your thickest option. Tofu makes a useful substitute for cream cheese in cheesecakes too.
Stock up your store cupboard with a range of useful gluten free flours, ground almonds, nuts and seeds for baking, soya spread, olive oil and coconut oil for cooking and stock your fridge with soya yogurt, cream and milk alternatives. For an ice cream option there are some delicious ice creams made from nuts, coconut and soya. Alternatively make use of soya yogurt blended with fruit and freeze to make your own.
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