Do you or your food-allergic kids have ingredients that you always avoided but that turned out to be safe after all---either because the allergy was "outgrown" or for another reason?
My oldest is allergic to pine nuts, which we suspected at age 2 and confirmed (accidentally!) at age 10. It's my youngest who is allergic to nearly the full gamut. We spent 8 years avoiding, among other things, all tree nuts, as did a few of her friends with food allergies. But, at her last skin-test check-up, the allergist tested tree nuts individually instead of as a group, and she had no allergic reaction to almonds or walnuts. Then, one of her friends who also had an almond allergy was declared safe for the same nuts, too!
I don't always love health coincidences, so I started wondering more about these individual almond allergy tests. It turns out that other food allergy families have gone through similar almond challenges...and that almonds aren't actually a tree nut after all. They're drupes.
I promise it's not a made-up word, it's a real fruit. Since I'm a word and plant-based medicinal chemistry geek, I do love the funny ways science distinguishes types of food. It's not really the same as regular ways, like how we eat the food or even what it looks like. In science terms, the almond is part of the plum family, just like apricots, peaches, and even cherries. Yes, almonds are hard and grow on trees; however, the almond is really the seed of a fleshy fruit---a drupe. Unlike peaches and those other examples, we eat the oily seed instead of the juicy fruit.
So what is a tree nut then? Cashews, pecans, acorns, and the like are true tree nuts. These foods have no flesh; they are hard-shell fruits, commonly called tree nuts. Their seeds are inside the shell, but that shell never opens to release them. Still yummy, but scientifically different from an almond for sure.
For my daughter, it turned out that walnuts don't cause her anaphylaxis, but they still aren't a safe food...that wasn't a fun challenge. Almonds, though---it's been so nice to add a bit of crunchy protein into our house again, for all of us. We don't even have a threshold; they're just safe. That's not the case for everyone who's cleared of a food allergy, and our doctors have suggested that it's wise to keep a somewhat steady exposure to almonds...just in case.
Almonds are so good for you in small quantities, too. They are high-fiber foods, and raw almonds have no sodium or cholesterol. Almonds are filled with calcium and iron that our bodies need. Even the fat (there's a good amount of that) is mostly the healthier monounsaturated kind.
But eating almonds regularly is not necessarily an easy thing to remember every week. They get a little boring all by themselves. There's also a healthy level of anxiety when we haven't had them on hand for awhile and it feels like we're trying a new food all over again. So I'm trying to get creative about putting almonds in things, from snack mixes to salads. So far, I have sugared them (so much for healthy?) successfully and am working on a couple of biscotti variations, coming soon I hope!
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy