A food allergy diagnosis as an adult feels like the end of times.
Going forward, the landscape you thought you knew well — your kitchen, your favorite restaurants, road snacks, the very thought of lunch — becomes something foreign and uninviting. The world shifts. It kind of sucks. No, it really sucks.
If you can cook, you have to throw out half, maybe all your favorite recipes. If you can’t cook, you will be learning. Even if you like to cook, this can be onerous.
Having been through this, we are here to help. Here’s your post-apocalyptic guide to eating with food allergies.
This blog started as an idea for a cookbook, sparked by a plan for a dinner party. Between the two of us, Denise and Mary Kate can eat, oh, about none of your average (US) American food playbook without alterations. 97% of fun foods that you would order at a restaurant are now verboten — in fact, eating out is stressful, at best, and for some food allergy sufferers, impossible. The allergy cookbooks we found were a mixed bag — some were good, some really weren’t, but many of them didn’t have the type of recipes we wanted. We wanted bar food, snacks, tapas, quick dishes that could be made when you get home at 7 pm ravenous because there’s nowhere you can get a snack when all food is suspect.
We wanted food that wasn’t just safe, but was fun. Food that you could make for friends and family that wouldn’t make them feel sorry for you. Food that adults want to eat, not geared towards children. So we made a list. Okay. We made a spreadsheet, with many many pages. We’ve grown beyond the spreadsheet, but it still contains things we’ve not found substitutes for.
With the ever-shifting landscape, some of our older recipes are no longer safe for us. We’ve gone from looking for “allergen-free” recipes to “allergy-friendly” recipes. Denise has added new allergens to her list since we started, and we’ve realized that nothing is truly allergen-free for everyone.
We intend this blog to be a place to find food that nourishes the body but also sparks the pleasure centers of the brain. Food that can be served and shared and enjoyed socially, letting food sensitive and allergic people re-engage with the part of food that brings people together. A place to start over, re-build, and find something good — and quick — for dinner.
A NOTE ABOUT ALLERGENS AND PROCESS:
For information on our personal lists of allergens and sensitivities, you can read our individual bios, Denise and Mary Kate.
We share in common a need to avoid dairy, eggs, gluten/wheat, and hazelnuts. These ingredients will not be found anywhere on the blog.* Recipes containing the other common allergens will be identified with a “WARNING” tag.
(*Some early recipes do contain gluten, as Denise was not initially allergic to it. They are marked appropriately.)
Denise is also allergic to corn. Corn is everywhere. This is why there is no “corn-free” tag on the blog.
As is always the case, you need to be careful sourcing your own ingredients in accordance with your allergy needs. Be aware of issues with cross-contamination.
These recipes are our experiments. We have noted where measurements matter, and where your own personal tastes can dictate the final amount of an ingredient. If a recipe works well for you — tell us! If a recipe looks good, but contains one of your allergens, and you try it with substitutions — tell us, whether it worked or not, we would love to know. Let us know what recipes you’re looking for that you can’t find, and we can let you know what we’re working on.
Most of all, we hope you move through the fear and learn to love food again.
(If you’re new to the blog, consider also checking out our First Post.)