Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cooking for people with allergies

Several years ago, members of our homeschool group joined together to form a group called the "Real Meal Blessing Team". We divide our group into two teams. Each team takes a turn to cook for anyone in our homeschool group that might need it because of illness, new baby or other life interruptions. We utilize a very cool free tool called the "Care Calendar" Our members can easily sign up for whichever date works best for them. To make it even easier, our members are not responsible for a whole meal (unless they want to). They only sign up for a portion of the meal like the dessert, vegetable and bread, meat, or side dish. It keeps it budget friendly and easy for our team members. 

To serve our member in need best, we have only the team leader make the drop off of all the food. This keeps our dear friend from having too many feet tromping through her house during a time when privacy is most needed. We have been very blessed to serve many of our members over the years. Some that have received have even joined our group and gotten to return the blessing! They are very special members indeed!

On occasion, we run into a family with food allergies or other diet requirements. We do our very best to accommodate them. Recently, we learned of a family in our group that is gluten free. That seemed a little intimidating to me. I didn't know much about it, so I did some research. I even did a test run of the diet myself for a few weeks just to see if I could cook for them using my regular recipes. I was excited to find many of my favorite recipes that were gluten free. I did a lot of label reading in my pantry. Since rice is considered gluten free, I had lots and lots of Cajun recipes that fit the bill. I also did some internet research and found websites to help me. Allrecipes.com has a great section with lots of gluten free recipes here. The recipes on this website look wonderful  http://glutenfreegirl.com/ Gourmet pictures too! I really liked the challenge of trying to cook gluten free. There really is so much help out there, that it probably wasn't much of a challenge.

Don't be intimidated when you are cooking for someone with food allergies or special diet requirements. First, ask them what you can cook. Also, ask if there is a restaurant they frequent and what they eat there. They know their diet better than anyone. They can give you some quick tips and hints, brands and where to get them. If you are still intimidated, you could give them a gift card or offer to deliver their preferred meal from their restaurant. Do a little internet research. Websites like allrecipes.com allow you to search for recipes "without" certain ingredients. Check it out here.

Funny but awful story... I have a dear friend who is allergic to bananas. I have known this for years and never managed to poison my sweet friend. I raved on and on about a recipe for hummingbird cake that I tried. One evening she came over for supper and I was so excited to serve her a piece of this delicious cake. As she took her second bite, it suddenly dawned on me that there were bananas in the recipe. Too late. Thankfully, her allergy isn't life threatening. I was absolutely horrified that I made a mistake like that but she just laughed it off and complemented me on the delicious cake. It's a wonder she still eats at my house. Argggg!

I have another friend who is allergic to onions and garlic. Now that allergy intimidates me! As a Cajun, cooking without those two ingredients in near impossible. I have one, count it one, main meal recipe that does not contain either of  those ingredients. Guess she'll be eating a lot of Paninis if I ever have to cook for her! Thankfully, she loves them!

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