What does baking or cooking from scratch mean to you? In the 21st century, many people count premarinated meats to grill or boxes of mashed potato flakes as essential to scratch cooking. Most families are just too busy to spend all day in the kitchen, prepping dinner before the lunch plates are emptied. Today, very few families are even home in time for that kind of traditional family dinner.
Those modern conveniences of boxed or nearly ready ingredients---often organic or non-GMO versions of what our parents used---are essential to feeding our families quickly at home. Food allergy families, though, don't always have the luxury of a boxed cake mix for a birthday party or a pre-seasoned brisket for the slow cooker. Just one unsafe ingredient, or directions that rely on a key food allergen, turns that quick prep for dinner into a disaster.
From what I've seen, that's when food allergy families try some different paths: relying on specialty convenience products, like the Cherrybrook Kitchen line of nut-free baking mixes, can be a good solution sometimes, for some families. Making one meal for the family without allergies and a separate meal using safe ingredients like powdered egg replacers can work for other families, especially if they're avoiding only one type of food. Our family has tried, and sometimes still falls back on, both of these options to get us through a busy day or a special event.
Most of the time, though, we try to make one meal or treat for our entire family, and we try not to bust our budget or our free time looking for an allergy-safe convenience option. We did find ourselves wasting time and money in the years just after diagnosis, and we were making an important family member feel second best at mealtimes. That's when we decided that recipes from scratch just couldn't be as scary as they seemed. First, we could pronounce all of the ingredients we put in. Second, we could lower the sugar or salt for family members who have other health problems when they visited us. Third, we could share a good laugh (or cry) when our first attempts were soggy messes that needed spoons instead of forks or that headed straight for the trash. This food allergy journey can have a bonding moment or two in a from-scratch kitchen.
Scratch ingredients can be surprisingly reassuring and easy to use. Here, some fresh apples, flour, and oats make up the main ingredients in a safe copycat of my mom's apple crisp.
With the help of some key food allergy resources, books like Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, and a decent dose of inspiration from my own family's old recipes, we designed easy, fast, and affordable remakes that we'd like to share especially with new food allergy families. Using today's most common pantry ingredients and nothing more complicated than a wooden spoon and a bowl, we've found a way to bring the fun (and the mess) back into cooking and baking together, even within our typical busy-family schedule.
For example, making my grandmother's homemade cookies together was something that I never thought we'd do when my daughter was diagnosed with multiple severe food allergies. Seven years and one healthy, well-nourished child later, we've made those and so much more without any professional training or special tools. We'd love to help others reinvent their own family favorites so that they can have some fun in the kitchen again, even for just a few minutes each day.
If you're ready to try some quick scratch baking, check out our family favorite, Sweet Pumpkin Scones, on ETSY. Do you have a favorite family or convenience-food recipe that you'd like to remake without eggs, dairy, or other top allergens? Get in touch or leave a comment, and let the kitchen science experiments begin!
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy