dedicated to discovering all that is authentically amarillo
current issuecurrent issue
What's Cooking? - Posted November 24, 2017 10:14 a.m.
photo
Photos by Shannon Richardson

Keeping the Peace: Navigating the holidays with food allergies

more resources
Share This: Bookmark and Share

Not long after our son was born, my wife, Cara, was diagnosed with allergies to gluten, corn, soy and cow dairy. Soon after that, we discovered our son had an allergy to tree nuts. Technically, I do not have any food allergies. If I were to work a bee hive without a bee suit or take some penicillin, count me out. But I can eat all the gluten, soy, corn, dairy, and tree nuts I want. However, while I will admit to the occasional cheat, for the most part my life is lived as if I, too, am allergic to some of the most prevalent foods found in the American diet.

There are a lot of downsides to living with food allergies. Obviously, there is the initial and drastic process of omitting from your life what is mostly likely a food you enjoy. You never hear stories of people finding out they are allergic to canned spinach or liver and onions. Managing life with a single allergy can be relatively easy. Grocery store shelves are full of “gluten-free” or “dairy-free” options. However, when you start to add up two, three, four, or, in our case, five allergies, things get more difficult. Often times, in order to eliminate one ingredient, like dairy, other ingredients, like soy, are added. Shopping at the grocery store always feels like completing a research project. I had to learn a whole new vocabulary of words like maltodextrin and xanthium gum. Countless times, I have returned home from the store only to discover I’ve made a fatal mistake – like somehow missing soy lechiten as the 17th ingredient in the flour mix I’ve purchased, or not noticing that while a product’s ingredients miraculously passed all the allergy requirements, the factory in which it was processed also processes tree nuts.

Cooking can also be more difficult because often alternate food choices don’t adhere to the same rules as the foods being replaced. Gluten-free flour and dairy-free cheeses are not near as cooperative as the foods they substitute, and do not always work as direct substitutes.

Then there is the effect on your social life. Social interaction often revolves around food, and any event where food is served takes on logistical challenges. You have to think about questions like Do we eat before we go? Do we bring our own food? Will the host be annoyed if I ask to see the label to every single ingredient they used to prepare the food? Going out to eat is an ordeal that hardly feels worth it. Most of the time you end up feeling like you are interrogating the waiter, only to end up ordering a house salad with no dressing.

The holidays are no easier. Despite all the peace and joy in the air, even the most supportive and loyal family members will turn their backs on you if you get between them and their favorite holiday dish. If you are the one cooking, and are new to allergy-friendly cooking, you may want to do a practice run, particularly for baked goods. Also, do not try to recreate every traditional holiday food, no matter how hard your family may beg. Focus on nailing down the main dish, a couple of sides, and a dessert. And while I don’t usually advocate for dishonesty, it may be best not to share the ingredient list with all of your extended family. At least not until after they try it. Holiday food is serious business. Blood may be thicker than water, but gravy with gluten and real dairy are thicker than both.

There are some upsides to living with food allergies, though. Eliminating foods usually leads to simpler and healthier recipes. It also pushes you to try new and different foods you may not have otherwise. And for those times where you feel like you just have to have that food you can’t eat, alternatives are getting better all the time. I have even grown to prefer many of the ones we use. Do I want a corn or flour tortilla? No thanks. Give me a kind-of weird, frozen, brown rice one any day.

In light of these intimidating challenges, we share a few allergy-friendly recipes that are sure to please all the guests at your table.

Recipes courtesy of Cara Young


Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
For those with a dairy allergy, mashed potatoes may seem to be a part of your past. However, many who suffer from dairy allergies are truly only allergic to milk from cows. Goat milk is more easily digestible and is often a safe substitute. While there are many other milk alternatives, goat milk has the added benefit of being a direct substitution.

2 pounds russet potatoes, with skin left on
1 large clove garlic
2 poblano peppers
1 cup goat milk, or other milk substitute
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons goat butter

Scrub potatoes, cut into pieces, and place in pot. Add garlic, cover with water, and bring to boil. Add pinch of salt, and then reduce to simmer until potatoes soften but are still firm. Strain and place in mixing bowl. Meanwhile, roast peppers on baking sheet under broiler. Flip peppers when skins start to blister and darken. Once both sides have roasted, remove peppers and place inside paper bag to allow skins to separate from peppers. Add butter and milk to separate pot and heat until butter melts. Remove peppers from bag and remove skins. Dice peppers. Add peppers, milk, and butter to potatoes in mixing bowl. Using hand or stand mixer, blend until desired consistency is reached.

Gravy
3 tablespoons goat butter
3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 cup pan drippings (from turkey)
1 to 2 cups chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves

Melt goat butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in gluten-free flour and cook for 1 minute until mixture is golden. Whisk in drippings. Bring mixture to boil and gently simmer until it has thickened slightly. Stir in fresh herbs. Whisk in 1 cup broth and return mixture to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, gradually adding more stock if gravy is too thick. Season to taste.

Makes 4 servings


Hibiscus Chutney
Hibiscus chutney can be served in place of cranberry sauce or with a plate of goat cheeses and rice crackers, as pictured. Hibiscus has numerous health benefits and the added benefit of being easy to grow in our area. It can also be found fresh or dried at many grocery stores.

1 pound fresh hibiscus calyces
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons coriander powder
3 serrano peppers
1 small onion
2 Granny Smith apples
½ cup cane sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

If using fresh hibiscus calyces, remove green ovary from inside. Peel onions, core apples, and chop both coarsely. Blend hibiscus, onions, apples, and serrano peppers in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process into desired consistency. Add mixture to large pot, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently.
*If using dried hibiscus, substitute 3 ounces of dried flowers, and then add 6 cups water to pot before simmering.

Makes 2 quarts


Pumpkin Pie
If baking requires precision, gluten-free baking requires precision and a miracle. Use a trusted recipe and be sure to use whatever kind of flour or flour blend called for. Again, we prefer goat dairy for baking because it reacts like cow dairy, and we use a shortening that is made from sustainably grown palm fruit.

Crust
1 ¼ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
¼ cup goat butter
¼ cup shortening
Ice water

Add flour to bowl of stand mixer and cut in butter and shortening. Mix until pea-size clumps form. Then add ice water while mixing with paddle attachment until dough comes together. Roll out between sheets of plastic wrap, and then transfer to pie pan.
Makes 1 (8-inch) crust

Filling
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated goat milk
1 (16-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin puree

Heat oven and a cookie sheet to 375 degrees. In large bowl combine sugar, flour, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir in egg. Beat in pumpkin and goat milk until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Bake on hot cookie sheet 50 to 55 minutes, or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

Makes 1 8-inch pie

by Justin Young

Cara and Justin Young have managed the Gardening and Nutrition Education Program for the High Plains Food Bank since 2010. Justin teaches gardening and nutrition classes throughout the community. Together, their program supports 14 gardens throughout the community, and they conduct multiple workshops, field trips, and tours, while working to increase access to healthy food and the education needed to utilize it throughout the community.
blog comments powered by Disqus
recent stories

The hard truth about Santa can be liberating
Learning the hard truth about St. Nick is a major step into manhood.

Montgomery Ward
One of the pioneers of modern American retailing, Montgomery Ward first entered the Amarillo market ...

Keeping the Peace: Navigating the holidays with food allergies
Justin and Cara Young share a few allergy-friendly recipes that are sure to please all ...

Christmas with the Woodburns
Livia Woodburn and her mother, Alicia, share their family’s holiday recipes.

@AmarilloMag