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What are tree nuts?

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watch for hidden nuts

Tree nuts are fruit comprised of a hard outer shell (usually inedible) and an inner (usually edible) seed. The outer shell must be cracked or opened to release the edible parts. Because of its widespread use in packaged foods, it can be difficult to avoid the tree nut allergen. Many school systems have resorted to banning foods containing tree nuts to prevent allergic reactions by children within their schools. Those allergic react to all parts of the tree nut from nut dust to the actual tree nut to the shells.

As a major allergen, peanuts will be clearly marked on the labels of foods produced for the US market, usually in the form “contains tree nuts (almonds)”. However, it is still important to learn what to look for to avoid peanuts in your diet.

Read the label for tree nuts

Tree nuts can be found in almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pesto, pine nuts (pinoli), pistachios, walnuts, nut oil ("almond oil", "walnut oil", etc.), artificial nuts, beechnut, beer nuts, butternut, gianduja, ginkgo nut, hickory nut, lychee nut, ground nuts, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nut pieces, nut meals ("almond meal", "hazelnut meal", etc.), nut paste (usually almond paste), nut butter (as in "almond butter", "cashew butter", etc.), praline, shea nut, nut extracts ("almond extract", "walnut extract", etc), marzipan, nougat, cereal, granola and trail mix, energy bars, ice cream, mortadella (contains pistachios).

Note: Please note that facilities which process peanuts may process tree nuts on shared lines. Always check the label.

What about coconut?

Coconuts are technically a fruit seed, not a tree nut. However, they may appear on allergy warning labels as a tree nut in the form "contains tree nuts (coconut)".

Tree nut free substitutions

Tree nuts are one of the more challenging allergens to substitute simply because they is so commonly processed by shared lines and/or facilities. Even if you find a seemingly suitable substitute, you will need to check labels carefully that your sunflower seed butter wasn't made on a shared line with tree nut products. That said, you may be able to substitute with a similar protein.

For tree nut based butter (almond butter, for example), substitute one for one:

For tree nut based flour, substitute roughly one for one (slight adjustments of liquid content as needed):

For tree nut based oil in cooking, note that these are normally used for flavouring only. If you need to make a substitution, substitute one for one:


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