Modifying Recipes for Allergies or Intolerances

I picked up the kids yesterday from the dayhome, to have “Aunty” tell me that my never ending eating machines have polished off ALL their gluten and dairy free foods that I provide.  Firstly, I sighed, because I had JUST been grocery shopping, but then it got me thinking that perhaps a post about how to accomodate for food allergies might be in order! Its a pretty steep learning curve when you first start, so perhaps a little help along the way might help :)

Peanut, or any nut, allergies are the ones that are the most severe, usually, and definitely on the fore front of everyone’s minds in schools. While we are not peanut free in our house, we certainly are in our school lunches!!  I substitute WOW butter for peanut butter in my kids sandwiches and in my baking. Instead of nuts in baking, I use toasted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds or Pumpkin seeds.

A gluten allergy, at first, seems to be the most daunting and overwhelming. Its in EVERYTHING!  But with a bit of forethought, its totally manageable. For pasta, replace regular pasta with brown rice. Just be careful not to overcook it because it does get mushy. For bread, we have found Udi and Glutino make the best bread and bun replacements – the others all taste like cardboard in my opinion. There are lots of flour replacements, you can get them at Bulk Barn, and all the grocery store’s Gluten Free sections.  Bob’s Red Mill flour is pretty good, but you have to add 1 tsp of xanthan gum with the flour to make sure it binds. Our favorite is High Wood Crossing’s Gluten Free flour – you just use it cup for cup, no xanthan gum.

Dairy allergies can be tricky. Some people are just lactose intolerant  in which case you need to get rid of the lactose, and some have a casein allergy (the protein in milk). Figuring out which you are dealing with first is key.  For lactose intolerance  most can just take a pill or drops to deal with the lactose. You can also buy lactose free milk and cheese. When cooking, pretty much any milk substitute will work. For daily drinking, we enjoy a coconut almond milk, but its too sweet for cooking (but great for baking!), so then I just use an unsweetened almond milk to make things like sauces and such.

Egg allergies tend to vary quite a bit in severity. For kids who cannot have ANY eggs, you can substitute egg replacer when baking, or make flax eggs – a mixure of flax and water if egg replacer is not an option. Some just can’t have eggs on their own, in which case, you can still bake with them.

I have a friend whose son is allergic to dairy, soy, corn, gluten, eggs, all nuts, and citrus. Seems completely overwhelming at first. But they came over the other day and I made macaroni and cheese! Used rice pasta, rice milk, gluten free flour and daiya cheese (a tapioca based cheese substitute), and of course a TON of ketchup on top!

Planning ahead is key to making allergy aware cooking easy for you, but once you’ve practiced a little bit, you will find its not that much more difficult than “normal” cooking! From my kitchen to yours, I wish you the best!

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