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How to cook for someone with food allergies

How to cook for someone with food allergies

How to cook for food allergies

Jump to the 10 tips on how to cook for someone with food allergies at the bottom of the post. 

How to cook for food allergies

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.

How to cook for food allergies

Seriously the last thing I wanted was the headline to read: 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!

How to cook for food allergies

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 someone with food allergies

  1. Start by asking for a list of their allergen – an allergy card is always good to ask for. Also talk to them about what they like to eat and what they would be comfortable having.
  2. Make sure you use a new sponge/cloth to clean.
  3. Run dishes through the dishwasher to ensure they are properly cleaned. If you don’t have a dishwasher a clean cloth, hot water and a strong soap will work. Scrub scrub scrub!
  4. Give your workspace a thorough clean before you begin. Wipe down counters and other kitchen surfaces like the stove top, fridge door, and cupboards with a soapy clean cloth.
  5. 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
  6. Wash your hands before starting and frequently to limit cross-contact.
  7. A good idea is to cook without any hand cream on (some contain nut and seed oils that may be a problem).
  8. 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.
  9. 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. Most people with food allergies avoid eating foods that have a ‘may contain’ statement and checking in with them will help ease any pressure of cooking for food allergies.
  10. Have a list of all the foods you used and save all the labels to show them
  11. BONUS! And most important… Don’t be offended if your allergic guest does not feel comfortable eating. It can take a lot out of someone with food allergies to eat meal not prepared by them and it is easier for them to get suddenly nervous/anxious about eating an unknown food. The worst thing you can do is make them feel pressured to eat. Trust me, they know you’ve put a lot of effort into making them a safe meal, which makes them even more nervous.

To make it even easier for you. Here are 5 tips for planning an allergy-friendly menu:

  1. Ask your guest what they like to eat or if there are any brands they trust – include them in the planning.
  2. Keep the menu simple.
  3. Stick to whole foods like fruits, veggies, meats, pulses, meats. The fewer the ingredients in an ingredient the better.
  4. Stay away from premade sauces and spice mixes.
  5. Freshness is your friend. Be inspired by what is in season and fresh herbs to flavour your dish.
How to cook for food allergies - tips on how to cook for someone with food allergies
View Comments (5)
  • That sounds like an interesting experience being on the other side of things! I have a close friend whose kids have several tree nut allergies, and I just don’t bake for them at all. She comes over and enjoys foods herself, but I just know I couldn’t get my kitchen nut-safe enough for them!

  • These are great tips! I always appreciate it when I can read the ingredients lists on what I might be eating. It really helps to put me at ease.

    • I totally agree! As diligent as a friend may be, they may not be 100% sure on an ingredient or not know the other names for allergens.


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