The Allergy-Friendly Cookbook

Book cover of The Allergy-Friendly Cookbook, published by Indiana University Press

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I am constantly working with my clients on what types of foods to bring into the house that will best nourish them and their entire family. We all know that kids can be picky eaters and that is okay.  We all have different likes and dislikes, but during childhood it is really important to create healthy habits in regards to eating.  I want children to get into the kitchen with their parents, know where food comes from, and try different tastes and textures.  This is a task in and of itself.  Throw food allergies into the mix, and we are dealing with a whole other obstacle. 

As a mom of two children with multiple food allergies, I understand how difficult it is to feed your child healthy while still being safe.  When my daughter was first diagnosed, all I cared about was her not having an allergic reaction.  Although short lived, healthy eating was not my number one concern.  All I could focus on was the task of feeding my daughter without causing a reaction.  With her having five out of the top nine allergens and then some, I felt like I was constantly on high alert.  I found a couple of companies that made allergy-friendly foods and I bought everything.  Unfortunately, it was all snacks, candy and dessert-like items, which is not what I wanted my daughter’s diet to be based on. 

After a couple of weeks of head spinning research for allergy-friendly food finds, I took a deep breath and realized that there were so many foods that were safe for her.  I had to stop focusing on what she couldn’t have and start focusing on the foods she could have, specifically all the healthy whole foods she could have.  This is when I got into the kitchen and started cooking.  I came up with recipe after recipe and my daughter was eating every single one.  My husband and I were too!  I don’t subscribe to fixing a separate meal for everyone in the family.  A couple of tweaks here and there is fine, but I wanted all of us to eat the same food for the most part.  The meals I created were healthy and kid-friendly.  I made sure to have a variety of nutrients throughout her meals, so she wouldn’t be missing anything due to her food allergies. 

After years of creating recipes, I realized I could help other families that were in the same situation as our family. This is when “The Allergy-Friendly Cookbook” came to be.  I also wanted to focus on meals that were not only allergy-friendly, but healthy and simple to make.  I wanted to help allergy families achieve what I help my patients achieve who do not have food allergies, and that is a balanced diet and a healthy relationship with food. 

By focusing on what our daughter could eat instead of what she couldn’t eat changed my mindset completely.  It opened so many doors and new creations in the kitchen.  Not only do my children eat healthy, but they eat foods other children do not eat.  We may miss out on certain foods, but the array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other lean proteins is endless in our household.  Plus both of my children love to be involved with cooking and baking.  With a little help, my eight year old son could make a complete dinner for us and my daughter can bake her own birthday cake!  They have skills, for sure!

The food allergy diagnosis is not one that any person wants to get, but looking at it in a different light and trying to receive the positives from it will change your life.  An easy first step is to grab “The Allergy-Friendly Cookbook” and get into the kitchen!  Remember to have fun and involve your children while making memories.