My daughter-in-law Heather has life-threatening nut allergies.Â She is allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts including pine nuts (also known as pignoli or pinon).
Approximately 30,000 people require emergency room treatment and 150 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
I have learned to read all labels very carefully.Â Nut products are used in many food products that you would not expect them. When in doubt, choose something else.Â Heather’s allergy is one of the many reasons we cook from scratch most of the time. Scratch cooking allows us control of the ingredients in each dish.
Here are some of the places to watch for nuts as an ingredient:
- Vegetable oils
- Stuffed meats
- Salad dressings
- Desserts â€“ baked goods
If nuts are in an item on the buffet we label clearly it with neon sticky note – so she or her husband do not eat it. Our son knows that he can pass nut oils to Heather if he kisses her after eating products that contain nuts.
Our choice of non-nut foods goes towards chocolate and fruit. These choices offer something the whole family can enjoy.
Some of the nut-free recipes we commonly use:
9 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (use good quality chocolate – not below 60 percent cocoa)
8 ounces heavy cream
Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan or double boiler over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
Here are some of the versatile ways to use ganache:
- Allow the ganache to cool slightly before using to dip cupcakes or pouring over a cake. It will become shiny as it dries if used as a topping.
- For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip until light and fluffy.
- Truffles: Refrigerate and cool ganache completely. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. After ganache is completely cooled and set, use a small scoop or teaspoon to scoop out ganache and roll in your palm to form a ball. Place the chocolate balls onto the parchement paper, and return to the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to firm up. Put cocoa powder, jimmies or powdered sugar in small bowls. These will be the toppings for your truffles. Remove truffle balls from refrigerator, and roll each truffle balls in one of the toppings. (You can use toasted coconut if it is not a sensitive ingredient).
MINI FRUIT TARTS
This how-to uses store-bought ingredients but it is also wonderful when home-made ingredients are used.
Fruit filling â€“ you can use different flavors to add variety â€“ (depending on your familyâ€™s likes)
Refrigerated Pie crust
Spray shortening (I use Pamâ„¢ – works best)
Mini muffin tin
Preheat oven to 450Â°
Spray muffin tins well with non-stick spray. Be sure to get sides well covered.
Cut pie crusts into 12 wedges each. Wrap each wedge around and into the muffin cup â€“ adjust dough as you need to form complete crust.Â Prick bottom of crusts with a fork â€“ and bake crusts for 10 â€“ 12 minutes or until crusts are golden brown. Cool slightly â€“ remove from muffin cups and complete cooling on a rack.
Fill each cup with fruit filling and refrigerate to set filling â€“ Top with whipped cream at serving.
- Top tarts with mini scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Top tarts with meringue and toast under broiler until top is golden.
- Try adding preserves topped with a fresh fruit as a filling.
Donâ€™t be afraid to make nut-free desserts for your family.Â They just take some planning and careful label reading!