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FARE Blog December 10, 2020

Is Nutmeg a Nut? And Other Holiday Cooking Questions

Find answers to common questions about holiday ingredients and food allergies.


Holiday cooking and baking can be a hectic activity, as well as confusing! Here are some common questions and answers about holiday ingredients and food allergies to help ease your worries as you prepare for the season!

  • Is nutmeg a nut?
    No! Although the word nutmeg contains the word “nut,” it is not related to peanuts or tree nuts. It is a dried seed, which is ground to make a spice.
  • Does eggnog contain eggs?
    Typically, yes. Eggnog is a traditional holiday drink made with milk, sugar and eggs. There are currently allergy-friendly versions on the market that use milk and egg alternatives.
  • Does butternut squash contain nuts?  
    No. While this orange squash may have a nutty taste, it is not related to nuts. Plain butternut squash is nut-free.
  • Do butter beans contain butter?
    Depending on where you live, butter bean is the usual name for lima bean or is what you call a mature lima bean that isn't green anymore. If they're canned, check the label for added ingredients. If they're served to you, ask the cook how they've been seasoned. Plain butter beans are milk-free.
  • Are water chestnuts a type of chestnut?
    No. Chestnuts are tree nuts and must be labeled on packaged foods in the U.S. Water chestnuts are stem tissues from an aquatic plant and grow underwater, in mud. Both chestnuts and water chestnuts may appear in recipes for stuffing or dressing.
  • Do potato pancakes contain common allergens, as breakfast pancakes do?
    It depends on the recipe. Some latkes are wheat-free, but contain egg. Some are egg-free, but contain wheat. Some are cooked in oil, and some are cooked in butter. It is possible to make potato pancakes that are free of the top eight allergens, though. Here is a recipe to try.
  • Does cocoa powder contain milk?
    Cocoa powder (not hot cocoa mix) is the powder of the ground cacao bean from which a portion of the fat has been removed. It is typically is milk-free, but you should always check the label to confirm.

We hope these answers help make your holiday cooking a bit less stressful! As always, be sure to read the label on every food, even if you have purchased the same food in the past.

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