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Around the Home: Be aware of guests allergies
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March is National Nutrition Month. So, make it a priority to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet in March.

Also, get a step ahead by organizing your recipes and grocery lists for Easter and other upcoming family gatherings.

Communication is vital if you’re inviting people who have food allergies. Almost 50 million Americans live with a food allergy, reports the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans and walnuts), milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

People who live with allergies on a daily basis will tell you that these allergens can be found in many foods.

Cooperative Extension offers these tips to help guests celebrate without having to worry.

It’s good policy to double-check with family and friends to see if they or their children have food allergies when you invite when them to a gathering. No one expects you to rewrite your whole menu in light of their allergy, but making a few dishes without the offending ingredients will make your guests feel welcome.

If the party is going to include guests who you don’t know very well or unexpected guests, consider serving a variety of foods. Make sure that the guests with food allergies have items to choose from.

Be sure to check the ingredient labels of store-bought soups, sauces and stuffing and dip mixes for allergens. Just a small amount of an allergen can cause life-threatening health problems for some.

If you make a dish that contains ingredients that are common allergens, make festive labels for each dish that let people know it contains the ingredient. For instance, if a dish contains wheat and eggs, include a label that says, “This dish contains wheat and eggs!” If it contains almonds, include a label that says, “This dish contains almonds!” Print the messages on festive paper labels and tape them to toothpicks or cake pop sticks that can be inserted into the dish.

Take extra precautions in the kitchen to prevent cross-contamination. Separate foods containing allergens from other foods. Thoroughly clean equipment, utensils and work surfaces between uses to prevent allergens from being transferred from one dish into another.

If you know that one of your guests has a severe allergy to a particular food like nuts or peanuts, choose snacks that do not contain nuts.

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on

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