Cooking for individuals with allergies or dietary restrictions might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Over the past 15 years we have worked with so many different food allergies including the top 9, sea salt, citrus, sunflower, garlic, onion, berries and so much more. With the knowledge we have grown through the years combined with our creativity, we have expanded our skills in coming up with allergy-friendly menus and recipes that are as tasty as they are safe. In this post, we’ll delve into the realm of allergy-friendly cooking, offering valuable tips, recipes, and expert advice to assist in handling restrictions.
Navigating Allergies in the Kitchen
Finding out that you have food allergies, or a restrictive diet can be a challenge to handle at first, and it takes diligence, attention to detail and commitment to food safety when cooking for them. That’s why we have put the time and skill in learning how to not only cook for families with food allergies, but also teach the skills to them as well. This starts with understanding and researching more on allergens as it’s crucial to understand the common food allergies and dietary restrictions that many individuals face.
Top 9 Food Allergies
While there are countless types of food allergies, the top 9 are gluten, dairy, egg, soy, sesame, tree nut, peanut, fish and shellfish. With that said we will talk a bit more about what each of these means. This is just a touch to the surface as we talk about the top 9 allergies, since there is so much more to cover, and this is just an introduction to allergy cooking.
What to Avoid
- Gluten: Avoid-wheat, barley, rye, triticale, durum, einkorn, emmer, kamut, spelt, semolina, graham flour, farina, enriched flours, self-rising flours, bulgar wheat and all items that contain wheat. Make sure to check labels as some things may have unexpected or hidden ingredients or contaminants.
- Dairy: Avoid– milk and all items that contain milk, such as butter, cheese, whey casein, caseinates, hydrolysates, lactose, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin or milk solids, artificial butter flavor. Make sure to check labels for not just milk but also milk containing ingredients.
- Egg: Avoid-eggs, egg whites, egg yolks, albumen, egg powder, dried eggs, egg solids, eggnog, fat substitutes made with egg, some egg substitutes. Double check baked goods (egg wash), sauces, soups (consomme) and other products that may have egg in them.
- Soy: Avoid– items containing soy or soybeans. Miso, hydrolyzed soy protein, edamame, natto, soy albumin, soy products (ex. cheese, milk, sauces), soy fiber, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy protein hydrolyzed. This list could go on as there are so many products with soy, so checking labels is a must.
- Sesame: Avoid– foods that contain sesame or these ingredients, sesame flour, sesame oil, sesame paste, sesame salt, sesame seed, benne, benne seed, benniseed, gingelly, gingelly oil, gomasio, halvah, sesamol, sesamum indicum, sesemolina, sim sim, tahini, Tahina, Tehina and til. Always double check labels for ingredients and risk of cross contamination.
- Tree Nut– Avoid– almond, artificial nuts, beechnut, black walnut hull extract, brazil nut, butternut or white walnut, cashew, chestnut, chinquapin nut, coconut, filbert or hazelnut, gianduja, ginkgo nut, hickory nut, lychee nut, macadamia nut, marzipan or almond paste, nangai nut, natural nut extracts, nut butters, nut distillates or alcohol extracts, nut meal, nut flour, nut meat, nut milks, nut oils, nut pastes, nut pieces, pesto, pecans, pili nut, pine nuts, pistachio, praline, shea nut, walnut, and walnut hull extract
- Peanut– Avoid– peanuts and foods with nuts such as trail mixes, baked goods, candies, cereals and granola, chili and soups, grain breads, energy bars, sauces and salad dressings. Again, we would recommend checking labels for ingredients and risk of cross contamination.
- Fish: Avoid– fish and fish products such as, anchovies, bass, catfish, cod, flounder, grouper, haddock, hake, perch, pike, halibut, mahimahi, snapper, trout, tilapia, tuna, herring, salmon, swordfish, pollock, scrod, sole, fish flavoring, fish oil, fish gelatin, and fish sticks to name a few. Make sure to also check labels as some things may have unexpected or hidden ingredients or contaminants.
- Shellfish: Avoid– clams, abalone, barnacle, krill, crab, lobster, mollusks, crawfish, squid, mussels, snail, shrimp, prawns, octopus, crevette, oysters, and other food items that may contain any of these. Make sure to also check labels as some things may have unexpected or hidden ingredients or contaminants.
- Know the Allergy: when cooking with an allergy in mind it is a necessity to know what the allergy is, how to work with it, what not to use and what to use.
- Avoid Cross Contamination: having a clean and cleared space free from allergens is also a major component. If the allergens are away from your kitchen and cooking area there is no reason for cross contamination.
- Ingredient Substitutions: one of the best skills for cooking with allergies is knowing what substitutions to use for allergy ingredients. We have tried a variety of them through the years to narrow down our top picks.
- Simple Recipes: selecting simple recipes will definitely help when getting started with allergy cooking. Simple recipes generally equals less ingredients, which means there is less of a chance for allergens. This leads us to our next tip.
- Focus on Whole Foods: when you focus on a diet of more whole foods and less processed, there is less worry of allergens.
Here are a few of our allergy friendly recipes for you to check out. That means that they are either already free of most or all of the top 9 allergens, or there are easy swaps in the notes to adjust them.
- Read Labels Thoroughly
- Cross Contamination Prevention is Key
- Ingredient Substitutions Require Allergy Understanding
- Make Sure to Communicate About Your Allergies
- Educate Yourself Continuously
This was just an overview of what is to come for tips, recipes and information on cooking with allergies. Keep an eye out for more posts to come on each of the top 9 allergies, our favorite substitutions, and recipes for you to enjoy. We are also currently finishing up on our Allergy Course, where we customize your journey in allergy cooking to your family’s needs. Join our community to keep up with everything we are doing, and let’s embark on this flavorsome journey together!
Are you ready to take the plunge into meal planning? Join Two Chef Mission Meal Plans and gain access to exclusive menus, tips, recipes, and support for your weekly meals. (For Those with Allergies: Two Chef Mission Meal Plans is for you if you are very comfortable with your allergies or only have one of the top 9, if you have more extensive allergies, we recommend the course or an allergy consultation which you can get more info on HERE.)