Jump to the 10 tips on how to cook for someone with food allergies at the bottom of the post.
Holy cow guys, cooking for food allergies can be tricky! I will admit I always thought cooking for someone with food allergies shouldn’t be that hard, I do it every day. My dad has food allergies, and I cook for him. It’s no big deal. Well did I have a wake-up call when Allie (Miss Allergic Reactor) came to visit for the weekend!
She was getting in pretty late on a Friday night, so I thought I would prepare us something allergy friendly to eat. I texted her all day to make sure all the ingredients were safe. We didn’t eat fish or potatoes for the two days before her arrival: the two allergies she has that I don’t. I made sure to use a new sponge. Plus I gave the house a super cleaning. It was all allergy safe, and I was feeling good about it.
Seriously the last thing I wanted was the headline to read: Allergy Girl Eats sends Miss Allergic Reactor to the hospital due to cross contamination. Hashtag embarrassing.
I decided to make pumpkin risotto. The food prep was going great, all I had to do was clean the rice and cook the food. So I jumped in the shower to freshen up and then would finish when she got here. I power showered and still had time to kill/ I was a little nervous — it was the first time I was meeting Allie in person (and I read her blog before we connected so yes, she is a total allergy star in my eyes). Instead of standing around I decided to clean the rice. As I was cleaning the rice, I noticed a layer of oil on the top of the water. Ew, my hand cream is all over the rice. OMG! My hand cream is pure shea nut butter! A tree nut! Is Allie allergic to SHEA? Holy crap!
Yes, indeed she has to avoid Shea and on to plan B! We had a delicious barley risotto instead and the evening went splendidly! We chatted and laughed the night away comparing allergy stories and quirks. Scandalous headlines avoided!
Cooking for someone with food allergies
All the things to think about when you are cooking for allergies is overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. After cooking for Allie, I feel 100 times more appreciative of all the people who have gone out of their way to make me a safe meal. Dang is it stressful. Maybe it was more stressful because I did everything I would hope someone would do when cooking for me. Since this was quite the experience, I thought I would share what I learnt and hopefully help you all feel more prepared when you cook for food allergies.
10 tips on how to cook for food allergies
- Start by asking for a list of their allergen – an allergy card is always good to ask for
- Make sure you use a new sponge/cloth to clean any of the utensils you will use (or throw them in the dishwasher)
- Give your workspace a thorough clean before you begin
- If you are using an ingredient that is in a jar or communal bags, like flour or honey, ask yourself whether you have double dipped or used a dirty utensil with this item. To air on the cautious side, I would go as far as buying a new bag or jar of whatever it is
- Cook without any hand cream on (some contain nut and seed oils that may be a problem)
- When you are tasting your food use a new utensil and don’t double dip. This is especially important if you have eaten one of their allergens that day
- Make food that does not contain any pre-made sauces or very few
- Send the guest pictures of ingredient lists of the foods you will be using to ensure it is ok for them – this will also give them peace of mind
- Have a list of all the foods you used and save the labels to show them
- Most importantly even if you went through all that trouble if the person still feels nervous about eating do not pressure them or make them feel guilty if they chose not to eat. Understand that eating food that isn’t prepared in a space they know or not having witnessed the cooking can be very nerve wrecking
Did I miss anything? I would love to know what else you do when you cook for someone with food allergies in the comments below.