Thousands of moms each year discover that an immediate family member has a food allergy, resulting in a dramatic lifestyle change for both the individual with allergies and the cook in the family. The good news is that if your family has just made this discovery, you will find many resources online to help you. Many moms have walked this road before you and it is possible to manage the allergies and still provide nutrition and taste when cooking. Below are some of the best resources for the major categories of food allergies, including websites and suggestions for cooking meals that are gluten-free, casein-free, and egg-free. If you have others to add to our list, let us know.
Starting a GFCF diet
This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such, just a list of ideas. Please use discretion and diligence to read labels and follow the advice of your doctor.
Suggestions from Connie on the former Menus4Moms Yahoo group:
My suggestion is to throw out "recipes" and instead cook and serve plain food. "Plain" includes salt & pepper for seasoning, but avoid seasoned salt or any spice mixes. Adobo, for example, can contain gluten. [Ed Note: KerryAnn Foster of Cooking Traditional Foods notes that many spice companies are gluten-free and many spices can be eaten safely instead of just having salt and pepper. Check carefully before serving each spice.]
This means cooking things like:
- Plain meat, roasted or grilled with no additions (chicken, beef, pork). If you buy the packages of individually frozen chicken breasts or thighs, they need to be the ones without added fillers or solutions. Whole chicken is best, doesn't have to be organic. Frozen fish is also susceptible to additions. Don't add anything except water or oil--no butter, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, salad dressing, canned cream of anything soup, packaged dry onion soup mix, etc. No catsup, sorry. No sausage mixes: Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, bratwurst, hot dogs. Brand-name ham and bacon should be ok, but read labels carefully.
- Plain vegetables, fresh or frozen, raw or steamed: carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn, cabbage, tomatoes. Baked potatoes. Not frozen hash browns or french fries. Onions added to anything for flavor, esp. if they're cooked in a little oil.
- Plain fruit, fresh or frozen: choices are wide open here.
- Rice cooked from raw. No rice mixes such as Rice a Roni. Oatmeal cooked from scratch is ok, no instant just-add-hot-water mixes. [Ed note: You should buy specific, gluten-free oats in order to be able to eat them without reaction. Some people experienced with Celiac's Disease do not recommend that you eat GF oats until you've been gluten-free for at least a year.]
- Dried beans/lentils/split peas cooked from raw. Again, no bean mixes that have their own flavoring added. [Ed note: Some people may not be able to digest beans or bean flours without gastric distress for up to a year after starting a gluten-free diet]
- Soups made from only the above ingredients. Don't used canned broth as a starter for soups. Use your own vegetable water or broth from cooking meat.
- Sorry, no cheese. For a beverage, go with water.
It's hard to follow a "plain food" regimen, because we aren't used to cooking from whole foods, but it's very healthful, and it should actually be cheaper than the way most American families eat. Our family isn't there, but this is really the model I strive for.
Recommendations for Cream Soup Substitutions
Suggestions from Jammie, a member of the former Menus4Moms Yahoo group:
If you have a grinder, you can make your own rice flour and bean flours. I have 2 cookbooks full of recipes for that type of diet. They are Country Beans by Rita Bingham and Natural Meals in Minutes by Rita Bingham. Here is a recipe that you might try... sorry I haven't tried it. It isn't for bread, but considering how many recipes call for Cream of Chicken Soup, I think it might be helpful for you. [Ed Note: Gluten-free flours such as sorghum or rice are easier on the digestive system than bean flours and are suggested for anyone in the first 6-12 months of eating gluten-free.]
3 Minute Cream of Chicken Soup
- 6 c. boiling water
- 1 c. fine white bean flour (Grind your own or look for Bob's Red Mill brand)
- 2 T. chicken or vegetable soup base (check label to make sure it GS/CF)
- 1 c. diced chicken pieces (opt.)
In a md. saucepan over md. heat, whisk bean flour into boiling water and add base. Stir and cook 3 minutes. Blend for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken, if used. Serves 3-4
Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute
This can be substituted for any recipe calling for condensed soup.
- 1 ¾ c. water
- 5 T. white bean flour
- 4 t. chicken boullion or soup base
Bring water and base to a boil. Whisk in bean flour. Mixture will be thick in 1 minute. Reduce heat and cook over medium low for 2 more minutes. Blend 2 minutes on high speed. Mixture thickens as it cools. This mixture can be refrigerated up to a week.
Websites dealing with food allergies and diet-related syndromes
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world’s largest nonprofit organization providing information about food allergy to the media, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials, as well as the food-allergic community. They operate two sites for kids with allergies, http://www.faankids.org/ and http://www.faanteen.org/.
The GFCF Diet: Gluten Free Casein Free Food Wheat Free Dairy Free
Focused on dietary intervention treatment for autistic spectrum disorders, GFCF contains a large directory of acceptable foods for low protein diets.
Resource for gluten-free foods
Celiac Disease Foundation
This is a large site with product listings, how to deal with holidays, recommended books, and more.
The Living Without magazine is a publication for people with food allergies. Their website has articles (available as excerpts of back issues of the magazine), resources, event dates, recipes, and more.
Kids With Food Allergies: Food Allergy Support and Food Allergy Recipes
Kids With Food Allergies is a national nonprofit food allergy support group dedicated to fostering optimal health, nutrition, and well-being of children with food allergies by providing education and a caring support community for their families and caregivers. It is a large site with many useful resources including publications, posters, recipes, news, allergy alerts, and more.
Websites and blogs featuring GFCF recipes and resources
Angela's blog is all gluten and dairy free with recipe links. She joins in on Menu Plan Monday and Gluten Free Menu-Swap every week with her weekly menu plans. Angela also does a Gluten Free-zer Friday feature that has a freezer (gluten- and dairy-free) recipe every Friday.
Website with gluten-free, casein-free recipes; the site is set up strangely so when you click on a food category at the top right, the recipes display in the lower box on the right, not in the main content area on the left.
Cooking Traditional Foods
Resources for living with Celiac Disease from KerryAnn Foster.
Resources for purchasing gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) foods
Enjoy Life Foods
Resource for gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods; website includes good informational resources including wallet-sized quick reference cards
Foods for diet-restricted individuals, including dairy-free, low-protein, and gluten-free products; their egg replacers are recommended by moms on Add Salt & Serve™ Yahoo group
Allergy Grocer is committed to educating people about food allergies and providing a store for people to purchase safe food products for their children. Their blog is frequently updated with tips, information, recipes, and many other resources for mothers of children with food allergies.