Cooking for the holidays is daunting enough for many people without adding in food allergy accommodations.  It is a challenge. In our house we have gluten and dairy allergies. Both of our extended families have been really great feeding us safely at the holidays. There was a learning curve, but we have all survived and eaten very well.  As one of the food allergy people, I will say that it is emotionally satisfying and gratifying to be able to sit down with my family and friends and share a meal with them. To help you out, I am going to give you a couple of pointers on how to cook safely for your guests. (There are a couple of recipes at the bottom of the page)

Keep it Simple

If your holiday kitchen is like mine, there are a million dirty dishes, something is burning and it is probable that a pumpkin pie is overflowing in the oven. Even though I am an experienced allergy free baker, this is not the time to do complicated baking. Getting a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner on the table in a timely fashion is enough of a challenge for me, so I keep it simple.  Instead of making pumpkin pie with a crust, I put the filling in a glass casserole pan and bake it like custard. (I use almond milk instead of canned milk)  It tastes the same and let’s be honest, we are all in it for the non-dairy whipped cream.  It is Okay for you to purchase allergy friendly items.  Some good gluten free/dairy free ones can be found in the freezer section. That is where you are most likely to find gluten free foods.  If you need bread  for stuffing, check out UDI’s breads. They are egg, nut, dairy and gluten free.  Progresso makes a good gluten free mushroom soup that you can use in green bean casserole. However, the fried onions are not GF. We just skip the whole casserole and do sauteed green beans.

Make it ahead

Many processed foods contain allergens and usually more than one.  Example: salad dressing. The pre-made ones contain 1 or more foods that people are allergic to. You can make a lovely olive oil salad dressing the day before. I bake my turkey overnight in an electric roaster. Go ahead and prepare your garden salad-just remember to keep the cheese, dressing and croutons on the side for people to add themselves.  If you want to try and make an allergy friendly dish, do it the day before just in case it flops.  I have made some spectacular flops. We will never eat eggs Florentine in this house again. Ever!

Ask for help

When you are shopping at the store, ask the staff if you cannot find something. Many of the grocery stores have someone on staff who can help you navigate and find the allergen free foods. If you are really struggling with what to feed your guests, ask them to bring something that they can eat. I am always happy to make a couple of yummy dishes to bring along and share.  You can always ask questions here on our blog, or email us at chiroworks.info@gmail.com.

So, my final words to you are: 
1.  Keep your works spaces and hand towels clean.
2.  Prepare all of your allergy free foods first so you don’t have any cross-contamination.
3.  Don’t use wooden utensils or cutting boards because it is hard to get them clean of allergens.
4.  Put out separate containers (like dips and humus) to eliminate cross-contamination. Label them.
5.  Ask your guest questions about their allergy. Talk to them about the menu. They will give you
     pointers.
6. Enjoy cooking and trying something new.

Recipes

Favorite Salad

Salad with Berries, Pecans & Goat Cheese in Vinaigrette

Source: www.onceuponachef.com (I have modified this recipe)
Ingredients

  • 2-1⁄2 tablespoons raspberry or balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup honey or 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots or red onion
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bag or large mixing bowl of chopped lettuce-any type or mix
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) blueberries
  • 1⁄2 cup pecans toasted (or walnuts)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions
Combine vinegar, oil, honey, Dijon mustard, shallots, salt and pepper in a leak proof container and shake vigorously to blend ( I use a canning jar with lid)

In a large bowl, combine the greens, blueberries and pecans. Add the dressing little by little and toss until greens are well-coated (you may have a bit left over but you’ll use most of it). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Keep the goat cheese and pecans for guest to add themselves. Once the dressing is added, this salad does not keep very well so add it right before eating. It is not a great leftover.

Favorite Holiday Quick Bread

 Cranberry Orange Bread
Ingredients

  • 2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour (GF Betty Crocker or GF Pillsbury are good)
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 C chopped walnuts
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  •  zest 1 orange
  • 1 C brown sugar packed
  • 1⁄2 C oil   (vegetable or melted coconut)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. (Coconut oil, butter or Bertoli olive oil spray work well)
  2. In a small bowl mix milk and vinegar together and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl add the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine. Gently stir in walnuts and cranberries.
  4. Add the egg, orange extract, orange zest, brown sugar and oil to the milk/vinegar mixture.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. It will be the consistency of traditional quick bread. Do not be tempted to add more flour.
  6. Transfer batter to the loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  It might take a bit longer to bake at your house and altitude.