Tips for hosting an allergy-free holiday

The traditional holiday meal is a staple in most households; turkey, stuffing, gravy, casseroles and pies are waited for year-round. But for people suffering from lactose or gluten allergies, enjoying holiday mealtimes can be a hassle.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 50 million Americans are lactose-intolerant and 2 million Americans suffer from Celiac disease, which means that they can't digest gluten. Here are ways to accommodate:

• Check to make sure that the turkey is gluten-free, as certain brands are processed with added gluten or glazed with a flour-based sauce.

• Instead of thickening gravy with flour, use cornstarch to make it celiac-friendly.

• Certain types of aged cheese are lactose-free, as the aging process strips the cheese of lactose. Stick to Parmesan, Swiss and sharp Cheddar rather than fresh cheeses, like cream cheese, or soft cheese, such as brie.

• Make a gluten-free and lactose-free stuffing, simply by swapping out the regular bread for gluten-free bread.

• Rather than putting out crackers and dips for appetizers, use traditional tortilla chips and salsa for a starter that everyone can enjoy. Check that any salsas or dips are gluten- and lactose-free, as well.

• Classic desserts, such as pumpkin pie, can be slightly altered to become gluten-friendly. Purchase a gluten-free pie shell and the rest is easy.