Is Nutmeg A Tree Nut? Plus Other Food Allergy Conundrums

It’s hard to tell whether a few of our favorite holiday foods actually contain allergens, or just sound as if they do.

Are nutmeg and butternut squash in the nut family? Is there egg in eggnog, milk in cocoa powder, and are potato pancakes allergen free or not? You do not have to wonder any longer; here are the answers:

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Nutmeg. This yummy spice is not related to tree nuts or peanuts. Nutmeg is actually a fruit containing a single seed. The seeds are dried and then ground into the powder we use for cooking and baking.

Butternut Squash. Like all gourd family members, including pumpkin, cucumber, and melon, butternut squash is technically a fruit since it contains seeds. Some people say butternut squash has a “nutty” flavor but it does not contain - nor is it related to - any type of nut.

Eggnog. Although there are allergen-free versions of eggnog currently on the market, traditional eggnog is made with sugar, milk, and eggs.

Did you know that, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, eggnog was one of George Washington’s favorite drinks at Christmas time? The recipe he served at Mount Vernon included the usual eggs, cream, sugar, and milk, plus brandy, Jamaica rum, sherry, and rye whisky.

Cocoa Powder. Cocoa powder - not to be confused with hot cocoa mixes - is made from cocoa beans that grow in pods on cacao trees. It usually does not contain milk, but always check the label to be sure. Cocoa powder not only flavors some of our favorite desserts, it is an excellent source of fiber, and contains a bit of protein as well.

Potato Pancakes. You will have to check the potato pancake recipe used to determine allergenicity. Some batters are wheat free but use egg. Others are egg free but contain wheat. The pancakes might be cooked in butter, or in oil. However, it is possible to make these delicious spud-filled latkes without using any of the top eight allergens.

Sources: Food Allergy; Whole Living; MSN; Nutrition Data
Photo credit: Ramesh NG

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