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Safe and Tasty: Cooking with Food Allergies

Posted on June 11, 2020

Article written by
Kelly Crumrin

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Adapt favorite recipes by subsituting safe ingredients for allergenic ones.
  • Try allergy-free recipes to find new favorite dishes.

When a food allergy is first diagnosed, it can be stressful to change the way you shop, cook, and eat. Changing your approach to cooking can be a challenge, but it’s also a chance to try new recipes and find new family favorites. The good news is there are lots of great recipe resources that can help you keep food fun, safe, and tasty.

You may feel most comfortable adapting your favorite recipes using allergy-free alternatives. There are substitute ingredients for nearly any allergenic food. Some substitutes can be used a lot like the original ingredient - for instance, margarine in place of butter. Other substitutes require a little more preparation, such as making a flax egg for baking. In some cases - like alternative flour and milk products - it will require some experimenting to decide which substitute you like best. Some alternative products may cook best at different temperatures or for different time periods than the allergenic foods. Get guidance from food allergy recipe websites, or use trial and error to adapt your own favorite recipes.

Swaps for common food allergens include:

Peanuts

  • Sunflower seed butter or almond butter instead of peanut butter for sandwiches and baking

Tree nuts

  • Crushed pretzels as a topping instead of crushed nuts
  • Roasted and seasoned soy beans or garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in snack mixes

Dairy

  • Soy, coconut, almond, oat, rice, or hemp milk instead of milk for drinking or cooking
  • Cultured cashew spread instead of cheese
  • Coconut cream instead of dairy cream
  • Margarine or coconut oil instead of butter
  • Frozen desserts made of coconut, cashew, almond, or soy milk instead of dairy ice cream

Egg

  • Flax eggs, applesauce, or mashed banana instead of eggs for baking
  • Tofu for scrambles or mock egg salad

Wheat

  • Rice flour, oat flour, garbanzo bean flour, almond flour, or a combination instead of wheat flour for baking

Soy

  • Vinegars or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce
  • Canola oil instead of soybean oil

Fish and shellfish

  • There are vegan (animal-free) products designed to substitute for fish fillets, crab cakes, smoked salmon, tuna, and nearly any other seafood. If you have additional food allergies, read labels to check for other allergens.

As a general tip, any vegan recipe will be free from dairy, eggs, and shellfish. However, be aware that vegan products often contain wheat gluten and soy.

SnackSafely offers guidance for choosing allergy-free snacks and ingredients and coupons to make allergen-free products more affordable.

Looking for guidance and inspiration as you navigate the world of allergy-free cooking? Rest assured, these trusted sources can help you serve up delicious (and safe!) meals and treats for every occasion.

If you’re active on social media, recipe inspiration can be as easy as clicking “follow.” Allergen-free recipe accounts such as beamingbaker, allergy_awesomeness, and allergy_girl_eats or tags like #dairyfreerecipes let you browse thousands of photos and recipes anywhere. Likewise, Pinterest allows you to create idea boards for party menus or everyday meals and follow allergy-free recipe accounts - for instance, Rebecca Pytell.

A magazine just for people with food and environmental allergies, Allergic Living keeps readers informed with articles, tips, and recipes. Recipes are searchable by allergen, course, season, or special occasion. Try this safe and savory recipe for Allergy-Friendly Mexican 7-Layer Dip for the next barbecue or football game watch party.

In addition to offering food allergy fact sheets and product contamination alerts, AllergyUK hosts a collection of recipes free of all 14 food allergens recognized by the European Union. Recipes include BLT Potato Salad and Apple and Blackberry Pancakes.

Enjoy Life is a company that manufactures food products free from gluten and the top 14 major allergens. Recipes focus on creative ways to use Enjoy Life products from pizza crust to chocolate chips, and are organized by meal or by course. This sweet recipe for Chocolate Covered Doughnut Holes would brighten anyone’s day.

Grateful Foodie is a blog focused on living with food allergies and asthma started by a mother of two children with severe allergies. Caroline Moassesi offers tips, food hacks, and recipes including a winning egg- and dairy-free Ranch Dip Mix.

The European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation lists a number of recipes free of the major allergens, including Pizza with Prosciutto and Rocket and refreshing Lemon Sherbet.

Spokin is an app and website created by an allergy mom to help parents manage their children’s food allergies. Recipes on Spokin are sourced from all over, carefully curated to be free from the most common food allergens, organized by meal and season. Sample lunch recipes include a rich, warming Roasted Tomato Soup.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) offers mouthwatering recipes for seasonal cooking and holidays. The recipe for Pumpkin Cookies - perfect for any event - is free of milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, and nuts.

Parent-focused site Allergy Mums offers sections for dairy- and egg-free, gluten-free, and vegan recipes including lots of cakes, cookies, and special-occasion treats. There are also great ideas for main dishes including these tempting Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free Salmon Fishcakes.

It's said that constraint sparks creativity. In the same way, having a food restriction can be a great motivator to broaden your food horizons. With some exploration, you can discover ingredients with satisfying new textures and luscious new flavors. Try some allergy-friendly recipes from a different culture and travel around the world without leaving your kitchen. Life may look different with a food allergy in the mix, but your adventures in eating are just beginning.

Kelly leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

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