Holiday family gatherings often mean holiday family dinners. While most of us look forward to the numerous dishes available to fill up our plates - maybe even twice - for those with food allergies, a table full of casserole dishes can look like a minefield.

Food allergies - which are caused by your immune system - affect nearly 15 million and the number of people affected is on the rise the U.S. Although those with food sensitivities can still eat food without serious consequences, but for someone with an allergy, touching, inhaling or ingesting a small amount of the food can be dangerous. According medical officials, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes.

To help you avoid food allergies while celebrating the holidays, here are some tips from FoodAllergy.org:

- RSVP: Contact your host as soon as possible to discuss concerns about food allergens and the possibility of cross-contact to create a safe environment.

- Bring your own safe food: Offer to bring safe food so you know there will be something there that you or your child can eat.

- Ship ahead: For those flying, make some simple allergy-free foods that travel well and ship them to your host ahead of time.

- Start the trend: Include an ingredient listing card with your food contribution to the party.

- The rules: Go over “the rules” for parties with kids beforehand. Be sure to stress not eating a food unless he or she has checked with a parent.

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Baked Brie with Bacon and Apples

Serves: 8


3 strips bacon, diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 apple, such as Granny Smith, diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (8-ounce) wheel Brie cheese

Toasted and sliced baguette, crackers and/or apple slices, for serving


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the rendered bacon fat into a bowl and save for another use.

Melt the butter in the now-empty skillet over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the apples and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and continue to cook until the apples are tender, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat. 

Slice the rind off the top of the Brie and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the cheese is very soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Slide the baked Brie onto a serving dish and top with the apple mixture, followed by the bacon. Surround with baguette slices, crackers and/or apples, and serve immediately.

- SouthernKitchen.com


Wait to drink your coffee

To get the full effect from your morning coffee, you should wait to pour your first cup after you wake up. According to Dartmouth neuroscientist Steve L. Miller, it’s best to wait about two hours instead of going right to your cup of coffee in the morning. Miller said it’s best to wait because the brain is already at peak cortisol (known as the “stress” hormone) production when we wake up and is related to our level of alertness. Cortisol levels begin to drop after the two-hour waiting period, which is when your body is in need of coffee.

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Chewing gum burns about 11 calories an hour.

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