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Be mindful of guests who may have food allergies during festive season

12/21/2012 02:33 EST | Updated 02/20/2013 05:12 EST
TORONTO - When you're entertaining over the holidays, chances are there will be a guest who's at risk of having an allergic reaction to an ingredient contained in one of the dishes being served.

Common harmful ingredients can include peanuts, nuts and shellfish, which are often found in items served at cocktail or dinner parties.

Here are some tips from EpiPen to keep in mind when preparing for festive gatherings that could include family or friends at risk of anaphylaxis.

— When inviting guests, ask if they are allergic or sensitive to any foods or common allergens and keep these in mind when planning your menu.

— Prepared food often contains allergens that might not be mentioned on packaging. Shellfish and peanuts or nuts in baked goods are obvious, but consider nut extracts or that butter is made from milk. Basted or self-basting turkeys can include allergens such as soy, wheat or dairy. Opt for natural or organic turkeys which are minimally processed and do not contain allergens. Ordinary orange juice could contain animal protein because some juices are enriched with omega-3s from fish.

— Some commercial chicken bouillons contain dozens of ingredients that may contain common allergens, such as milk substances. It's best to prepare your own broth and to avoid using a chicken carcass that might contain traces of cracked eggs.

— Be aware of cross-contamination. Wash hands well, use clean aprons and towels and don't prepare allergen-free dishes near non-allergen-free dishes. Ensure work and cooking surfaces, including cutting boards, bowls, plates and cooking utensils, have been thoroughly cleaned and have not come in contact with allergens. A cutting board, even if cleaned and disinfected, can harbour traces of allergenic proteins in the knife marks.

— Keep allergen-free dishes on different tables, away from the non-allergen-free dishes, and use different serving utensils for each.

— If the event is being catered, those at risk of anaphylaxis can ask the host for the name of the caterer and call to advise them of dietary needs. Most caterers will offer alternatives.

— Those at risk could offer to bring a dish or two to share to have safe options.

The following are recipes for an entree and side dish which do not contain any of the common allergens:

Turkey Osso Buco

The restaurant Zero8 in Montreal, which is free of gluten and the top eight food allergens (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish), created the recipes for this entree and side dish. They're suitable for the festive season or any time of year.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours

200 ml (2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup) olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

4 turkey osso buco cuts, cut about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick (about 2 turkey breasts)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 bay leaf

200 ml (2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup) dry white wine (see note)

500 g (1 lb) chopped peeled fresh or canned tomatoes (certified allergen-free)

2 l (8 cups) poultry bouillon (certified allergen-free)

50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped fresh parsley

10 ml (2 tsp) chopped rosemary

In a large ovenproof pot, heat half the olive oil; saute onion, celery and garlic.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat remaining olive oil (do not allow to smoke) and brown turkey. Season with salt and pepper.

Add turkey and bay leaf to pot. Moisten with white wine and continue heating to reduce by about half (it may have a syrupy consistency). Stir in tomatoes. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes and pour in bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook in a 200 C (400 F) oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Lay turkey cuts on a platter. Pour cooking juices over meat and sprinkle with chopped parsley and rosemary. Serve with rice pilaf (recipe follows).

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 534 calories; 47.4 g fat (6.9 g saturated); 23.7 mg cholesterol; 10.9 g carbohydrate; 2.6 g fibre; 10.5 g protein; 1,116 mg sodium.

Tips:

— Wine may contain more than 10 mg/ml (milligrams per millilitre) of sulfites. Sulfites can cause allergic reactions, and manufacturers are required to list them on their labels. Wines generally contain between 50 and 250 mg/l of sulfites. Consequently, this recipe may not be suitable for people with sulfite hypersensitivity.

— Leftover portions can be frozen and defrosted later in the refrigerator.

———

Rice Pilaf

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Inactive time: 15 minutes

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water

50 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, finely chopped

250 g (8 oz) long-grain white rice

Salt, to taste

Bring water to a boil.

In an ovenproof pot, sweat onion in olive oil until it becomes translucent. Add unrinsed rice and saute until it begins to turn white, stirring gently. Add boiling water and salt.

Cover surface of rice mixture with parchment paper and bake in a 200 C (400 F) for 16 to 18 minutes. Remove rice from oven and let stand for 15 minutes to allow it to expand.

Fluff with a fork and drizzle with olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 356 calories; 13.9 g fat (1.9 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.2 g fibre; 4.7 g protein; 46.8 mg sodium.

Source: Recipes created by Zero8 restaurant in Montreal for EpiPen.

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