How to Have a Dairy and Nut-Free Christmas
Christmas is a special time of year. Whether you’re celebrating the season religiously or you’re simply enjoying quality time with your friends and loved ones, there is no better time to relax (once you’ve finished your Christmas shopping, of course!) and be merry with lots of festive food and drink. But when roughly 30% of people have a special dietary requirement, cooking for guests can be tricky, especially if you are unfamiliar with how to manage a food allergy.
Tom Pom Organic is here to help! We want Christmas to be for everyone, so we’ve written this handy guide to take the stress out of the Christmas season and help make it more inclusive for allergy sufferers. At a time when Christmas puddings and cream are so commonplace, it’s only natural for those who are allergic to dairy and nuts to feel excluded from and anxious about the festive period, but it shouldn’t be this way.
Yet it’s easier than you might think to have a dairy- and nut-free Christmas, and with the help of our Christmas dinner recipes, from drinks and starters all the way to desserts, you can easily tweak classic seasonal dishes to suit your dietary requirements without needing to miss out. Cheers!
The Drinks List
Our list of tipples contains seasonal ingredients without a drop of dairy or a nut in sight! There’s more to Christmas drinks than just eggnog and snowballs with creamy advocaat, or for the more untraditional sorts, stollen sours (which contain almond liqueur). Our mixes can be teetotal or alcoholic to suit your preferences and those of your guests! Several liquors are now offered as ‘vegan’ which are dairy-free such as Baily’s Irish Cream.
- Non-alcoholic Christmas punch – A festive punch can be made with pear slices, lemon, and white grape juice, and with the added touch of mixed spice and fiery ginger ale, you’ll feel in the mood for the season – just without the spirits! For an alcoholic version, pour in some white, dark or spiced rum.
- Cranberry spritz – Cranberries are in season throughout December and feature in many Christmas dishes. Mix up this non-alcoholic tipple with cranberry juice, orange juice, and sparkling white grape juice (such as Shloer), and taste the joy of Christmas in a glass! If you can’t find Shloer, just use sparkling water and add a cinnamon stick.
Let’s Get Started!
You’re at a Christmas dinner party and you spot the sharing platter being passed around. To your horror, it’s topped with canapés clearly made with ingredients you can’t stomach. Crème fraîche, cheese, even walnuts! You start to panic. You know this means one thing: you’ll be left with a few dry rye crispbreads (perhaps with some watery slices of tomato on top because you can’t eat cheese) while hoping the main course will be more suitable for your diet. Show your dinner guests they can be more imaginative with our suggestions for dairy- and nut-free starters. They’re allergy-friendly and don’t compromise on taste!
- Dairy-free pigs in blankets – If you’re catering for guests who don’t eat pork and can’t consume milk due to an allergy or intolerance, chipolata-style vegan sausages are a tasty alternative that can be wrapped in dairy-free puff pastry and glazed with soy milk.
- Creamy vegan mushroom pâté – A dairy-free mushroom canapé can be made with soya or coconut cream, garlic, olive oil, and thyme. It is best served with dairy-free sourdough.
The Main Event
The turkey roast is undoubtedly the highlight of any Christmas dinner, but the same is true if you’re choosing to have lamb or lobster. To each their own, as they say. The great thing about meat or fish is that it will not contain dairy or nuts unless there are ingredients added. Follow our tips below and help stop dairy or nuts from sneaking into all the festive favourites served up on your dining table this Christmas.
- Vegan wellington – A vegan version of this centerpiece dish can be made using mushrooms, sweet potato, vegan breadcrumbs, and dairy-free puff pastry and soya milk. Ready-made pastry is usually dairy-free and suitable for vegans.
- Vegan roast potatoes – Potatoes are both delicious and naturally vegan, so they should never be taken off an alternative Christmas dinner menu! Roast potatoes in vegetable oil (olive oil won’t make them very crispy on the outside) alongside a few garlic cloves, and season with thyme and rosemary for a warming, woody flavour that complements the crispy exterior of your potatoes.
- Dairy-free gravy – For a simple dairy-free alternative to this seasonal sauce, avoid basting the meat you use with butter, check that your stuffing doesn’t contain butter, and use olive oil or any cooking oil as a substitute. But if you’re after a vegan substitute for gravy, use soya milk which gives the closest results to cooking with milk.
- Dairy-free stuffing – Sausage meat stuffing is usually dairy-free because the meat provides the necessary fat, but some bread contains milk and butter. Use olive oil or margarine instead of butter if you’re making sage and onion stuffing, and use vegan or dairy-free breadcrumbs.
- Vegan and nut-free Christmas pudding – Christmas pudding is an age-old staple on the Christmas dinner menu. So if you’re looking to stay traditional this year (or you just want to please Gran and Grandad!), but you’re also cooking for someone with a nut allergy, sunflower seeds are a good alternative to flaked almonds. If you also want a plant-based alternative to Christmas pudding (which usually contains animal suet), vegetable suet is a good replacement. Serve your vegan and nut-free Christmas pudding with a vegan whipped coconut cream, which you can make using just coconut milk. You can also find a wide range of vegan puddings in most supermarkets if you’re looking for a more convenient dessert to dish up on Christmas Day.
- Traditional turkey dinner – As long as you’re swapping butter for oil, most traditional turkey dinners are dairy-free. But remember to avoid bread sauce, which is heavy on dairy products. Unsweetened soya milk, dairy-free white bread, and soya vegan spread can be used to make an alternative, dairy-free bread sauce that is just as delicious as the original.
- Parsnips with orange and maple syrup – This festive and flavoursome take on parsnips is a simple side dish to serve on Christmas Day. Cooked with olive oil, orange juice, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and thyme, these parsnips are both vegan and dairy-free.
- Cranberry sauce – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without cranberry sauce and combined with the luscious flavours of orange, mixed spice, cherries, or nutmeg, Christmas dinner isn’t the same without it!
- Festive red cabbage – Cabbage can be made extra special this Christmas by stewing it with apples, ginger, and cinnamon for a seasonal side dish alongside your roast dinner.
And for a Festive Finish…
Who says having a dairy or nut allergy means you have to miss out on life’s pleasures, especially at Christmas?
- Dairy- and nut-free mince pies – While there are some nut-free mince pies on the market, finding dairy-free mince pies that are safe for people with a milk allergy seem almost impossible to find. Ensure the “dairy-free” mince pies you might find in supermarkets may still contain nuts, and they may contain traces of milk too (some allergy suffers can handle ‘traces’, some cannot). They are prepared to a vegan recipe, though, which means your vegan friends and family should be able to eat them without a worry.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try making your own mince pies with brown rice flour, cornmeal, dairy-free margarine, and dairy- and nut-free mincemeat. But if you’re rushed off your feet, buy some dairy-free pastry and either make your own mincemeat or use a nut-free pre-made filling.
- Vegan gingerbread cookies – To bake delicious dairy- and nut-free Christmas cookies, butter can be swapped for coconut oil and aquafaba (or for an easier substitute, try Flora dairy-free spread), and soaked chia seeds can be used to replace eggs. Check out Tom Pom Organic’s low sugar, dairy and nut-free gingerbread cookie recipe here.
- Creative Nature – If you’re short on time at Christmas (who isn’t?!), Creative Nature sells healthy, vegan, and allergy-friendly cake mixes for rounding off your Christmas dinner with a no-fuss dessert. Try using their Chia and Cacao Choc Chip Brownie Baking Mix to create a festive nut- and dairy-free Christmas Yule log cake! Their high-protein snack bars also come in seasonal flavours such as Orange Cacao (a healthier alternative to chocolate orange!), and Spiced Apple, which are also dairy- and nut-free. Ideal for keeping you fuelled up at the busiest time of year! Check out their Christmas bundle here.
So, that’s dinner served. But the three-course meal isn’t finished yet. We still have some morsels of information we think it might be useful for you to digest before you host your extra special Christmas dinner party.
A Few Things to Think About Before You Host Your Christmas Dinner Party…
- Most classic Christmas dinner dishes can be made dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan, so there’s no need to cook lots of special dishes for guests who don’t eat animal products or can’t eat dairy.
- Make sure you ask your guests in advance of preparing your Christmas dinner if they have any allergies, intolerances, or cultural, personal or religious dietary requirements.
- Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, and some people choose to live tee-total, so have non-alcoholic drinks on offer.
- If you’re catering for vegans or vegetarians, animal products can be found in beer, wine, sweets and crackers, and reading ingredients lists doesn’t always make it clear whether a product is vegan or vegetarian. For example, Camembert isn’t vegetarian even though it is a cheese because it contains animal rennet, which comes from the stomach lining of calves.
- Gelatine is also an ingredient to avoid – it comes from the skin, bones and tissues of cows and pigs. If you are preparing food for Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, look out for gelatine in store-bought products. Jews and Muslims don’t eat pig meat, so they can’t consume pork gelatine, while Hindus avoid beef and they are not allowed to eat food containing beef gelatine.
- Some vegans also don’t eat honey, so avoid bee pollen, royal jelly, and beeswax when cooking or buying Christmas gifts for a vegan, unless they’ve let you know otherwise.
- If you’re confused about what food to serve, ask your guests if they can bring some food, such as desserts or starters, or a bottle of drink that caters to their needs, so that everyone stays happy!
But What About Baby?
For your baby’s allergy-friendly needs, look no further than Tom Pom’s nutritionally balanced frozen baby food rings. They come in ready-made portions straight from the pouch, helping to save waste and ensure your child gets the goodness they need, even at Christmastime! The rings are fun as teethers, too, so while you and your guests are enjoying chilled canapés from the sharing platter, baby can nibble on Tom Pom Organic’s Apple, Oat and Cinnamon rings (a very seasonal choice!) or our Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pea Meal, which won two Nourish Gold Awards in 2021.
Don’t take our word for it! Let baby taste the goodness for themselves and visit our online shop here!
Thanks for Reading!
We really hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, and that you’ve been inspired to host your own allergy-friendly dinner party this Christmas. Let us know what dairy- and nut-free recipes you plan to impress your guests with over the Xmas period by sending us a message on Instagram @tompomorganic. Stay safe, and from all of us here at Tom Pom, have a very special Christmas.