“What’s for dinner?” This seemingly innocuous question can strike fear into the heart of the designated meal-maker when they’re catering to a family member or friend that has food allergies. The top eight allergens are present in everything from store-bought sauces to common snack foods. These allergens are:
- Tree nuts (including walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, coconuts)
- Fish (like bass, cod and flounder)
- Shellfish (like shrimp, crab and lobster)
Wheat is found in almost all processed foods. Soy, too, is in snack and food products that people consume daily. So what’s a chef to do when allergen-free is on the menu? Never fear, we have handy recipes to cover the must-have staples of an allergen- free diet:
Allergen-Free Mac and Cheese
Kelly Rudnicki, better known as Food Allergy Mama, created a delicious recipe for little ones and nostalgic adults alike that need to eschew dairy and eggs. Here it is, in all it’s dairy-free cheesy glory:
½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions, drained
1 ½ cup rice milk, slightly warmed on stove top
4 tablespoons dairy free margarine
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose or gluten-free flour blend
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup dairy free cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Follow Your Heart, this doesn’t have pea protein. If you are fine with pea or legume protein, you can also use Daiya)
In a medium saucepan, melt dairy free margarine over moderately low heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add 1 c. of the warmed soy milk and whisk constantly for 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Add the dairy free cheese and stir with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Then add the remaining ½ cup warmed milk, salt, pepper and dry mustard and pasta. Stir until the dairy free cheese is nearly melted, about five minutes. Once the cheese sauce is smooth and melted, add the drained, cooked macaroni. Stir and serve.
Soft and Chewy Baked Granola Bars
Granola bars are a satisfying snack for anyone on-the-go. But they often contain allergens like nuts and wheat. Enter Oh She Glows recipe for delicious, allergen-free granola bars:
3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, ground into a flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325F and line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper
- Add rolled oats into a high-speed blender. Blend on highest speed until a fine flour forms. Add oat flour into a large bowl.
- Add water and pitted dates into blender. Allow the dates to soak for 30 minutes if they are too firm. Once they are soft, blend the dates and water until very smooth.
- Add all of the ingredients into the bowl with the oat flour and stir well until combined.
- Scoop the mixture into the pan and spread it out with a spatula as evenly as possible.
- Bake at 325F for about 23-25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then lift it out and transfer it to a cooling rack for another 5-10 minutes.
- Freeze leftovers to preserve freshness.
Paleo Sweet Potato Soup
As we near winter, it’s wonderful to have a few delicious soup recipes in mind. One of our favorites is hot soup. Unfortunately, many soups contains dairy and cream. Fortunately, we found a dairy-free recipe for Sweet Potato soup to satisfy hankerings for the traditional comfort food. Bravo to Bravo for Paleo for concocting an allergen-free version!
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place peeled sweet potatoes in a pot and fill with water to cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil, and then let it boil for about 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Place the boiled sweet potatoes and chicken broth in a blender. And blend well. Add more broth if desired.
- Add all the spices. Pulse a few more times until spices are evenly distributed.
- Serve hot with some protein! Great with cooked sausage.
Notes: Don’t go light on the salt and pepper. It will help bring out the flavor of the soup and spices.
Surprise Ingredient Pancakes
We’ve covered sauces, snacks and nostalgic staples, but we couldn’t leave out a breakfast favorite: pancakes! Pancakes traditionally contain three allergens: eggs, wheat and milk. But there is a way to bring this flavorful favorite back into your allergen-free lifestyle. This recipe from Real Food, Allergy Free, with surprise ingredient, avoids allergens but not at the cost of taste:
1 cup Navy Beans, drained
1 2/3 cup Water
1 Tbsp Honey (Don’t substitute as this gives the pancakes the golden color.)
2 tsp Oil (I use olive)
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
- Add ingredients to blender in the order listed. Blend until well blended. Set aside to thicken while you heat the skillet to medium.
- Cook on until golden brown, turning as needed.
Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Chocolate Pudding Cake
Try saying that three times fast! This wouldn’t be an article about fall comfort foods if we didn’t include a recipe that features pumpkin (and chocolate). We’re smitten with the Oh She Glows recipe for pumpkin spice chocolate pudding cakes, which can easily be made allergen free by swapping the almond milk for coconut milk and switching to soy-free chocolate chips. Here it is, in all its gooey glory:
1 flax egg: (1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
1.5 cups rolled oats, ground into a flour (use certified gluten-free oats, if necessary)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup finely chopped non-dairy dark chocolate
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons almond milk (or try rice milk)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 + 1/4 cup hot coffee (use decaf, if desired)
For serving: vegan vanilla ice cream and toasted chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 375⁰F and lightly grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish with oil.
- Whisk flax and water together in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to gel up.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oat flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, chocolate, salt, and baking powder.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flax mixture, milk, pumpkin, and vanilla.
- Pour wet mixture onto dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared glass dish and smooth out evenly with a spoon.
- In a small bowl or mug, combine the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1/4 cup sugar. Sprinkle all of it evenly over the cake batter.
- Slowly pour the hot coffee over the cocoa powder and sugar mixture ensuring that the coffee completely covers the powder and sugar. The cake will now look like a complete disaster, but this is normal. Promise!
- Very carefully place the dish into the oven, uncovered. Bake at 375⁰F for 24-30 minutes (I baked for 25 mins., but your oven might need more or less – see my post for the visual step by step pictures) until the cake is semi-firm on the top, but bubbly and gooey around the edges (see photo in blog post). It will look under-baked, but this is normal (we want it saucy!). If for whatever reason your cake is still watery after 30 minutes in the oven, keep baking it until it looks like the photo in the blog post.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then serve immediately with vegan vanilla ice cream and toasted pecans. This cake is best served warm straight out of the oven. I tried reheating leftovers in the oven the next day and the cake absorbed a lot of the sauce during the reheat. It was still good, but we preferred the cake the first day, fresh out of the oven. Leftovers are quite good served chilled, as an alternate suggestion.