This is a guest post from Leslie Stiles. Leslie Stiles received her BS in English Literature at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and obtained her Masters in Human Nutrition from University of Illinois in Chicago. She works as a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at a children’s hospital in Chicago, IL.
A diagnosis of a food allergy may come as a shock to your family, and that shock may continue when you go to the grocery store and start to look at nutrition labels. You might find yourself asking “What can my kid eat?!”, “Will they be able to eat typical kid food like birthday cake and pizza?”, or “What will I pack them for school lunches?” The list of questions can be endless and overwhelming to say the least. Luckily, thanks to the world wide web, there are some accessible resources that will both educate and inspire you about allergen-free cooking and shopping.
This blog post is intended to present some tried and true resources that I often share with families. I encourage you all, as readers and family members of children with food allergies, to share your own tried and true resources in the comments section. It’s important for us to share information and help each other stay informed.
For all things allergy-related, the Food Allergy Research and Education organization (FARE) website is chock full of useful information. I recommend spending some time exploring all it has to offer and bookmarking it to refer to later.
Allergy Free Recipes
The Kids with Food Allergies website has created an easy-to-use, searchable recipe database. You can search for recipes that are free of the top 8 allergens and corn.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website has a lot of great information about food allergies, in addition to some tasty allergen-free recipes. Each recipe is marked with a key stating which allergens have been omitted.
If you think your child with a dairy and egg allergy has to miss out on your Great Aunt Mildred’s famous banana bread, think again… You may be able to substitute other ingredients for the butter and eggs. The Kids with Food Allergies website gives a good overview of the function of each allergen ingredient in a recipe and provides suggestions for good substitutions. Unfortunately, not all allergens have substitutions that will function in the same way, so the end product may not turn out exactly the same as the original, and you may want to find a new recipe.
Allergy Friendly Manufacturers
We are lucky to live in a time when there are more allergy-friendly manufacturers than ever before. Children’s Hospital of Orange County has created one of the best resources I’ve come across thus far listing all allergy-friendly food manufacturers. You can check it out here.
Eating out at Restaurants
Want to find allergy-friendly restaurants in your area? Then Allergy Eats is the place to go! You can simply select your food allergy, type in your address, and voila - you have restaurant options. Each restaurant receives a rating, both overall and per allergen. You can also rate a restaurant yourself. To make it even easier to use, Allergy Eats has created an app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone.
Again in the food allergy community, we rely on each other for information and to stay informed. Do you have a tried and true online resource that you’ve found helpful? If so, please share it in the comments section.
-Leslie Stiles, MS, RD, LDN