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Nut allergies


It's not just peanuts: nuts in general, found in many dishes and foods, can be life-threatening for many people. But there’s hope: we’ve found over 700 recipes on the site that won’t cause you any problems at all! Here's our guide to what to eat, what to avoid, and where to go for more information and nut-free products.

We have had lots of requests for information on diets that exclude nuts, so we know that these are important issues for you.

Nut allergy and, in particular, peanut allergy is often life-long, which means that people become allergic very early in life and rarely grow out of it. In a small number of cases people with peanut allergy suffer severe, potentially fatal reactions (anaphylactic shock) within a few minutes of coming into contact with a peanut. Because groundnut oil is also made from peanuts, people who suffer from any nut allergy should avoid it (and warn anyone cooking for them as well). Grapeseed oil and walnut oil are other mildly flavoured oils that work just as well in dressings and in cooking, although they are more expensive than groundnut oil. And, if sesame causes you problems, it's best to avoid sesame oil in Oriental cookery.

With regard to Delia’s recipes that list nuts as an ingredient, in many cases the nuts could simply be omitted, or perhaps replaced with dried fruit, such as cranberries or cherries. In recipes such as Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake, the nuts could be successfully substituted with the same weight of extra biscuits.

So, what should you avoid?

Nuts: cashews, peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, monkey (peanut) nuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts
Groundnut (peanut) oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, grapeseed oil and sesame oil (if the latter causes problems).
Coconut: although coconut is not a nut, so can often be eaten safely by those with nut allergeis, it can be an allergen. If you are affected, avoid fresh, desiccated, creamed, cream, milk.
Pine kernels (nuts) are not strictly in the same botanical category as other nuts, but they are often cross-contaminated in factories with traces of peanuts during processing, so should be regarded as a nut for this reason.
Seeds - sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, poppy - all allergens but not nuts. These are not nuts, but can be an allergen for some people, even those not affected by nuts.

A note about processing

There are hidden dangers for those with nut allergies: modern food-processing methods mean that cross-contamination can occur when peanut products are made on the same line. This is why nut-free chocolate can be difficult to track down. Always read the ingredients label and allergen information very carefully.

However, it's not all bad news. Some manufacturers have no nuts in their factories and are committed to providing foods safe for people with nut allergies. Kinnerton confectionery sells a wide range of products for children under their own brand and also for major retailers such as Marks and Spencer. They have a strict nut-free zone in their factory and have produced a chocolate bar
(100 g; 50% cocoa solids) that is nut-, milk-, egg- and gluten-free. This chocolate is available in the 'free from' and cake-covering sections of major supermarkets. Be aware, though, that we have not tested Delia's recipes using this chocolate and you might not achieve the same success as you would with the chocolate she has used.

Delia's nut-free recipes

Meat recipes 
Fish and seafood
Poultry and game 
Pasta, pizza, gnocchi and noodles 
Snacks, lunches and light suppers 
Preserves and accompaniments 
Rice dishes 
Egg recipes

Who can help?

The Anaphylaxis Campaign (01252 542029) is a registered charity that provides support for, and lobbies on behalf of people with potentially fatal food allergies.

Allergy UK (020 8303 8525) a medical charity for people with allergies, provides advice and support via its helpline on 020 8303 8583 (9am-9pm, Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm, Sat and Sun) and will send advice booklets to its members on all aspects of allergy; e-mail:

Recommended books

Living with Nut Allergies by Karen Evennett (Sheldon Press) gives much-needed information about the factors that put people at particular risk of developing the allergy, what forms allergic reactions can take and how to prepare for and cope with an attack. There is information on related allergies, and special advice for pregnant women and for parents of children with nut allergies. Details are also given of foods that are hidden sources of nuts and there are recipes for nut-free cooking – helpful to vegetarians looking for alternative protein sources.

These titles, and others, are available at discounted prices in our online Book Shop from Amazon:

Living with Nut Allergies by Karen Evennett (Sheldon Press)

The Allergy Bible by Linda Gamlin (Quadrille)

The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff MD, Linda Gamlin

Change Your Diet and Change Your Life by Sharla Race (Bloomsbury)

Mail-order suppliers of nut-free foods

It's Nut Free was founded in October 2001 and produces cakes, biscuits, puddings and celebration cakes, made on their premises, using nut-free ingredients and without unnecessary additives or preservatives. Mail order available; also, party catering and other social events.

It's Nut Free, PO Box 380, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 4XQ
(01423 561569; fax: 01423 561572) e-mail:

Nut-free foods are also available by mail order from PK Foods:

PK Foods, Unit 270, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 3SS
(020 8953 4444; fax: 020 8953 8285) e-mail:

Useful websites 

Food Standards Agency
Allergic Reaction Central

NB Recipes on the above sites and in the recommended books have not been tested by Delia Online.


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