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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Did you know that October 22 is National Nut day in Jamaica? I didn’t! We use a lot of nuts on the island, especially in Ital cooking. So if you are trying to stay away from nuts for health reasons or otherwise, there are a few dishes and sweet treats you should avoid.
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Yes, nuts or by-products of nuts are often found in Jamaican dishes. Since nuts are often high in protein, they are often used as a substitute for meat in dishes made by vegetarians or vegans.
Also, Jamaica being the fruitful country that it is, there are often many fruit and nut trees all over the island where the nuts can be had in their most organic form.
Our favourite way to have cashews is roasted. But some people will use the nut to make a drink or in stews. It is usually stated in the name of the dish if it is used but asks just in case.
With milk alternatives getting increasingly popular as well, you may need to watch out for these in shakes and porridges just the same.
Peanut allergies are quite common in the world and Jamaica is no different, but some of the favourites on the island do include the nut. If you have a peanut allergy, you must stay away from peanut porridges, peanut punch and peanut drops.
Peanuts are also often had in soups, especially for, Rastafarian sip as it is a substitute for meat as a source of protein for Rastafarians who are almost always vegan.
Though coconuts aren’t classified as “true nuts”, some persons who suffer from nut allergies are allergic to coconuts as well. If you are one such person, your list of foods to avoid is quite long.
We use coconut milk in rice and peas, some stews and curries, drinks, soups and porridge. Actual coconut is used in the making of various desserts and snacks such as gizzarda, coconut drops, coconut ice cream, shammy, grater cake, duckunoo (blue drawers), cornmeal and potato and every pudding other pudding you can think of.
Sometimes the coconut is very pronounced and is often mentioned in the name, like coconut curried fish or coconut-covered shrimp but it doesn’t hurt to ask, just to be on the safe side.
In vegan/vegetarian restaurants, coconut oil is often the substitute for vegetable or palm oil so be careful of that as well.
The most popular form of almond in Jamaica is as a milk substitute or in ice creams or baked products. They are also popular in mixed nuts packets on the island but, I doubt that will be your go-to snack if you have a nut allergy.
Walnuts are another nut that isn’t very popular outside of desserts, baked products, milk substitutes and mixed nut packs, so if you are mindful of these products you should be safe.
Sauces and gravies, especially on resorts will likely have nuts involved in the process but most hotels will have substitutes for the nuts in the making of the food or will tell you which dishes to avoid as long as you make it known to them of your allergy.
You won’t miss out on all Jamaican dishes though, you can still enjoy ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken and other meats, escovitch or fried fish and many other island dishes. This might be an opportunity to try all our fresh fruits and vegetables as well, you might find a new favourite!
If you have medication, ensure to have an adequate amount for the trip. Most people suggest having Benadryl, Epipen and anti-itch cream if that is one of your symptoms when experiencing an allergic reaction to nuts.
Nut, or food allergy symptoms in general, may develop within a few minutes or up to two hours after ingesting it. On rare occasions, it may take longer for symptoms to begin showing.
If you experience the following symptoms, after eating meals that include nuts, you may have a nut allergy. If this occurs it is best to seek the advice of a physician as soon as possible.
In more severe cases, the symptoms may be:
I hope you have an allergy-free vacation on the island! Remember to notify your resort of your various allergies to avoid a health scare.
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Does Jamaican Food Use Nuts? | Written: October 19, 2022
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