Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Need to Whip Up a Last Minute Dessert? Dairy-free, Egg-Free and Maybe Even Gluten-Free Cookies November 26, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized my amazing dessert plan is too elaborate or altogether unnecessary for a big meal like Thanksgiving.  If you find yourself in a crunch (or if you’re just in the mood for a classic with a twist), check out this recipe originally posted in 2011.  The delicious hints of pie spice and pumpkin are reminiscent of a traditional Turkey Day pie but the chocolate makes it sooo much more satisfying!  My mouth is watering just remembering how good these were.  I barely have time, but I might just have to work these in tomorrow…

 

 These cookies are adapted from a recipe I found that was already egg-free (a great start!). But I’ve tweaked it to be dairy and nut-free and included a reviewer’s suggestion at the bottom for making them gluten-free as well! This recipe produces a ton of cookies, so invite the neighbors over about 5 minutes after they’ve cooled to help you chow down.
 

Ingredients (**see bottom for gluten-free substitutions**):

 
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour** (see below for gluten-free substitution)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

 

Cream the sugar, shortening, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until light and well combined.

 

Mix the flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  

Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool on a rack.

 
Makes 4 dozen cookies.
 
**To make them gluten-free, one reviewer commented that she substituted the following for the flour:
  • 2 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  

I am thankful for these cookies!

 

Allergy-Friendly, Actually Helpful Holiday Dinner Gadgets November 23, 2014

The holidays are here!   If you’re still struggling with how to make your holiday meal safe for all of your guests, check out these helpful tools and tips:

 
 

Char-Broil Big Easy – $146.96

If you like the idea of deep-frying a turkey but don’t want to mess with Peanut oil, this oil-less, propane Turkey fryer might be worth a try:

 

char-broil-big-easy-fryer

Char-Broil Big Easy Fryer

Buy Char-Broil Big Easy Fryer at Amazon

 

Fry turkeys the safe and healthy way with the Char-Broil The Big Easy Propane Oil-Less Fryer. Since this fryer uses a 16,000 BTU burner, there is no oil to buy, pre-heat or dispose of, making your cooking preparation effortless. Cool-touch handles help protect your hands during operation, and a pull-out grease tray makes cleanup a snap. Cooks up to 16 lb. of turkey, 8 lb. roast, ribs and more.

The Vegetti – $20.55

Buy the Vegetti Pro at Amazon

Have a vegan coming to dinner?  Someone going gluten-free?  The Vegetti takes ordinary vegetables and turns them into good-for-you spiral spaghetti.

 

 

 
 

Buy Mini Chalkboards at Amazon

These would be a perfect way to alert guests of appetizers and dishes that are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc.

 
 
Brown Kraft Paper – $10.97

Kraft paper is so great – there are so many clever uses! My favorite – no surprise – is to use the paper as a runner or tablecloth and label all the dishes right on the paper tablecloth!  I also love the idea of displaying the menu/main recipes as decoration (and, for those with food allergies, important information).  And, of course, the most fun way to use kraft paper?  Place crayons in small tin buckets and let the guests doodle away!

 

Kraft Paper - brown roll tablecloth

Buy Kraft Paper Rolls at Amazon – these are heavy, definitely have it delivered!

 

 
 

There’s still time to grab one or all of these items! You and your guests will use them again and again!

(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of the affiliate links go toward AllergyStrong.org – an organization aimed at helping at risk families with food allergies.)

 

Holiday Talk: Hosting a Guest With Food Allergies November 17, 2014

Holidays are filled with memorable family gatherings.  And, as warmly anticipated as most of them are, if you are hosting a guest with food allergies it can bring up some anxiety.  How will you make your guest feel included while keeping them safe?  What does it mean to be a good host to someone with food allergies?  How far will you need to stray from your familiar recipes to make the meal safe for sharing?

 

Never fear!  As a parent of a food allergic child, I can tell you there are a few simple steps you can take that will alleviate your anxiety and win over your guests:

 

1.  Have a conversation with the food allergic family.

  • Find out what the allergies are so you can do your best to substitute or exclude them from recipes.
  • Ask them what their biggest challenges are when it comes to the type of meal your serving, whether that be Thanksgiving, breakfast, desserts, etc…
  • Discuss cross-contamination in relationship to cutting boards, baking dishes.  Most of the time, a simple cleaning either in the sink or dishwasher suffices, but it’s important to talk to the food allergic family as everyone’s food allergy triggers are a little different.
  • If you are hosting this family overnight, get the brand names of a couple of snack foods that are safe for the food allergic child/individuals.  It’s important to stick with these particular brand names because recipe, manufacturing equipment, and methods can make something as simple as a pretzel go from safe to unsafe very easily.
 

2.  Search Allergy Shmallergy, FARE and other blogs for allergy-free substitute recipes.  For example, Shmallergy’s You’ll Never Miss It Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes are easy to make and are a crowd favorite at every table we sit.  Keep your recipe handy for the guest family to review.  You may never understand how touching a gesture like this is to us.  Safe mashed potatoes from a host can make my son’s whole day!

 

3.  Brush up on the signs on anaphylaxis (among them: hives; itchy lips, tongue, throat; swelling of tongue, lips; wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath).  Watch this video (less than 2 minutes) to familiarize yourself with how to use an EpiPen (one common type of epinephrine autoinjector).  Your guests will appreciate you taking their allergies seriously.

 

4.  Keep ingredient lists of the food your cooking with for reference.  I can’t tell you how many times I read and reread new brand ingredients to be sure they are safe for my son.  And the peace of mind it gives me is more than appreciated.

 

The best ways to be a host to a food allergy family is to create a warm, welcoming environment – as with all guests.  The time you share together will define your memories.  And the effort you make to keep all your guests healthy will surely be one of the fondest ones of the season.

Food Allergy families:  what would you add to this list?  Please add your suggestions below!