(Note from Gina: On today’s guest post, Carolina — a fabulous vegetarian foodie who blogs over at Peas in a Blog — talks about a topic that’s near and dear to me. She’s written an excellent guide full of practical tips to help you safely cook for friends with food allergies. It can be done, folks!)
Hello there! My name is Carolina & I’m a foodie. Naturally, when thinking of topics to blog about for Gina (who just became the hippest mommy I know) my mind immediately went to food.
Then I thought of food allergies & knew exactly what to write about: Safely cooking delicious meals for your friends with food allergies.
I’m a big advocate of cooking at home, not only is it more cost effective, but it allows you to control the ingredients: healthier, more nutritious & if you have a food allergy: safe. If you have a food allergy yourself, or are hosting friends that do, below are some tips that will help you partake & provide delicious meals:
• Know the allergy: Dairy. Yeast. Gluten. Corn. Nuts – if you’re eating these & noticing your body feels off afterwards (bloated, hives, for example) you should go see your allergist. Our bodies change with age, sometimes we become allergic to things, sometimes we get rid of allergies. My allergist recommends I get tested every 3-4 years to make sure I keep them under control (varies for everyone depending on their allergies). Start the dialogue with your physician. If your dinner guests have allergies make sure to ask them what they are – you want to feed them food that’s tasty but safe.
• Avoid contamination: Speaking of safety, make sure all utensils you use are thoroughly clean & sterile. For example, if your friend is allergic to nuts don’t use the same cutting board or knife after you’ve used it for nuts without washing & disinfecting them. Also, check for any factory warnings. Though manufacturers aren’t required to include information about potential cross contamination in the packaging process, many include warnings like “may contain nuts” or “manufactured in factory also processing yeast”. If you’re not sure whether a product contains the ingredient you or guests are allergic to, don’t use it.
• Read the label: Most domestic ingredients are required to include a list of ingredients, it’s critical to read them. Some products that may not have a label include fresh produce, refined oils & meat. Other than that, if it’s domestic it will have a label (most international products have a label as well though not all).
• Don’t forget the drinks: Read the label for beverages as well – you don’t want to miss any potential mines.
• Always double check: Though an ingredient might have been safe the last time you purchased it, make sure you read the label next time you shop. Recipes may change & the potential new ingredients may contain the allergy culprit. Always double check everything you’re consuming.
• Enjoy the discovery: There’s an ugly misconception about most dietary restrictions – that you can’t enjoy a vast array of incredible meals – this is so not true! A dietary restriction may open your eyes to a whole new world of ingredients, take you down culinary adventures; it can be fun! For me, becoming a vegetarian has broadened my cooking immensely – I love the
ingredients I’ve discovered & the meals I’ve created!
I hope you find these tips helpful. Now get to the kitchen & unleash your inner chef. Buen provecho!
(Be sure to check out Peas in a Blog! Carolina writes from Florida and shares the blog with her best friend Katie, who writes from South Africa. Together, they create delicious and healthy vegetarian meals. One to add to your Google Reader for sure! And don’t forget to follow @peasinablog on Twitter.)