Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cooking for People with Allergies - Part 1

Yes, YOU can cook for them!

These days, people are more selective in what they can and cannot eat. Many people I come across cannot have gluten, sugar, nuts or other have other common food allergies.

Substitute cooking always throws recipes off a bit, but if you take a little time to find some good substitutes, your friends will be very thankful! 

Before preparing food for people with allergies, 
ask what they cannot have and stay away from those things. 

Make sure when you are cooking food that they will be eating, that you do not cross contaminate dishes with food that they are allergic to. If you dip a wheat cracker in hummus the dip is now contaminated with traces of gluten. This can cause a reaction, so always beware!

Three tips for cooking with substitutes

1. Don't make it complicated

Do you have to make a baked good? Go with dishes and desserts that naturally don't have gluten in them. Like ice cream, greek yogurt parfaits with berries for the sugar free.

2. Use substitute ingredients similar to the original ingredient called for

If you are using a traditional recipe, your cookies might call for granulated sugar. This is not only important for the sweetener for the cookie, but also for the creaming process with the butter that will give the cookie the air it needs to rise. Do not use a liquid sweetener in place of a granulated. Use a granulated ingredient in place so that you will still have that basic process still in place. Make sense? In place of sugar, I use xylitol. It is a natural sweetener that is zero on the glycemic index. You can use the same amount in place of sugar, or a little less since it is quite sweet.

3. Plan Meals around low gluten foods

Corn chips, guacamole, meat tacos (with corn tortillas) and a small taco salad and you are set! No gluten in that meal at all! How easy is that? Pick a protein, vegetable and a dessert that has no gluten and you will have one outstanding healthy meal that everyone can enjoy.

     When I was eating gluten-free I had one problem... I missed Italian food.
If you are like me, you like good pasta, cheese and marinara sauce. What about pizza? You can hardly live without good pizza. When you start a gluten-free diet it can be very confining, but instead of letting that box me in, I let it expand my "food vocabulary."
My next blog post will talk all about what Italian dishes I came up with that are gluten-free, grain-free and super yummy. My whole family likes them. 

People with food sensitivities are willing to try a lot. They are brave. 

We should all be willing to at least try something new once. 

Here is a handy list of gluten-free flours I use:

Rice (great for thickening sauces)
Oat (great for muffins)
Tapioca (used with other flours to lighten some heavy baked goods)
*Garbanzo bean (great for pizza dough)
*Almond (great for scones and crusts)
*Black Beans (cooked, they can put a lot of substance in a dish)
There are many more...  

---> visit your local health foods store for a large selection of gluten-free flours

* =  flours that are also grain-free which some people prefer.
Note: Many of the flours you can make your own by blending whole dry products in your blender (like a vita-mix) and then sifting it through a fine colander.

Yep, I make a sugar free, grain free, gluten free brownie. 

      Wait a minute!! How can you make something with that much stuff NOT in it??!! Well, you would never know. 

I served these brownies at an event once and the 75 people that ate them, never would have know that they are gluten free, grain free and sugar free. They just knew they were really good brownies! Check out the Cook Your Way to Health book here for my recipe. 

Read part 2 of Gluten-free cooking here... 

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