We’ve all heard talk about food allergies, but you may only know about them in passing. Some of us, though, are on intimate terms with at least one food allergy. Maybe you or a loved one are struggling with allergies.
There are eight common food allergies in total. For today, let’s talk specifically about tree nut allergies. Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are named tree nuts because they grow on trees (pretty simple). Peanuts, however, grow underground and are classified as legumes.
If you have an allergy to tree nuts, it probably started when you were a child. What you may not know is that you could be allergic to another kind of tree nut. Be careful, some tree nuts are closely related, like cashews and pistachios.
Some of us who are allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to tree nuts. The opposite may not be true. When planning your dietary needs, there are some important factors to consider, like the fact that not everything labeled for nuts actually contains nuts. The macadamia nut and pine nut are both seeds. While the FDA labels the coconut a tree nut, the coconut is actually a fruit.
Talking to an allergist who’s familiar with the management of food allergies is a wise move.
As mentioned, not everyone is familiar with food allergies. We may not even know some of the common symptoms. For those allergic to tree nuts, symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, or skin
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Anaphylactic shock
The triggers are the tree nuts themselves, as well as products including nuts such as nut oil and nut butter. Avoiding these is necessary to prevent an allergic reaction. You’ll want to read the ingredient labels. Carrying epinephrine with you in case severe symptoms develop is another smart precaution.
For those who have been dealing with nut allergies for years, you may already have seen a doctor for a diagnosis. Those who are just beginning to feel the symptoms need to visit a doctor immediately. An official diagnosis is necessary because a tree nut allergy can have a life-threatening reaction. You’ll need to understand what is making you sick and how to deal with your allergy.
While you may not be allergic to all tree nuts or peanuts, it’s generally advised that you stay away from them all. This due to a risk of cross-contact and cross-contamination in processing facilities.
There are substitutions you make in recipes in place of peanuts and tree nuts.
You can replace nuts in granola bars with roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. It’s also possible to do this with bread and butter. Some butters sold commercially consist of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.
Additional seeds come from sesame, squash, watermelon, chia, pomegranate, and papaya.
You can roast soybeans, peas, or chickpeas in your oven. This makes a crunchy, protein-filled snack. You can also use them on salads. Additionally, you can spice and roast them to make your own snack bowl.
Pretzels can replace nuts in pie crusts and chicken coating recipes. They’re also an excellent replacement for nuts on ice cream.
- Oatmeal or rolled oats
- Crisp rice cereal
- Dried cranberries
- Chocolate chips
Replacing Peanuts and Peanut Butter
A large amount of us enjoy eating peanuts and peanut butter. We like spreading peanut butter on sandwiches along with jelly. But since some of us can’t eat peanuts, this means we’ll have to stay away from peanut butter.
You may want to know the options for replacing peanut butter for sandwiches or as a quick snack in the middle of the night.
You can use granola butter, sesame butter, soy butter, or sunflower seed butter. There’s also tahini butter, coconut butter, and cookie batter (which is a nice treat by itself).
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options in replacing tree nuts and peanuts for those who are allergic. And while you may only be learning this process for a loved one, such as a child, you may find that you enjoy these alternatives as well.