Now that you're eating with food allergies, it's time to collect recipes! Finding allergy free recipes is just one of the pieces to the puzzle of eating well with food allergies. It is an important piece, though, since food allergies usually cause us to cook more meals from scratch. Most of us need recipes to do that on a regular basis.
How to find them? Well, it isn't too hard with millions of recipe websites to peruse. Here are some of my favourite resources for recipes.
That's right - I'm old school! Sure, many of the recipes in your favourite cookbook contain ingredients that you can't have. That's okay! Many of the recipes can be altered to meet your needs. The key is choosing recipes that don't need too many substitutions. For example, if you're allergic to eggs, choosing a quiche or egg casserole recipe will be a challenge. Did you find a mouthwatering dish that calls for butter and cheese? You might be able to pull that off with some dairy free substitutes!
One of my favorite cookbooks is the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. It contains all of the classic recipes, many of which are pretty easy to adapt. If you don't own a cookbook, I would start with this one.
Also, check out the Food Allergy Store for a selection of cookbooks written for those of us with food allergies.
And be sure to check out the allergy friendly substitutes page for help altering recipes.
Online Recipe Searches
Newsflash: You can find anything on the Internet! Of course, great recipe sites are no exception. The recipe sources online are endless! I like to search for recipes on Pinterest. Check out my boards to see what I've been pinning!
Here are a couple of go-to websites for recipe inspiration:
Eating With Food Allergies Recipe Index
Shameless plug! You're already here so you might as well check it out!
I love Allrecipes because it has a great feature...ingredient search! You can type in ingredients you want and ingredients you don't want (i.e. those containing your allergens) and get recipes that meet your needs. You have to be a little creative, however, as it isn't set up to search by an allergen. For example, if you type in "dairy", you wouldn't have much luck narrowing recipe choices down since "dairy" isn't a common ingredient. Instead, search for ingredients that might contain the allergen like "cheese", "cream" or "milk".
Not much of a cook? Don't know a tablespoon from a teaspoon or a saucepan from a skillet? Check out Food Network's website where you can learn all sorts of things about cooking. And you don't have to be a beginner to reap the benefits of this site since their recipes are rated from beginner to expert. Are you going to be throwing a baby shower or Super Bowl party? You can find menu ideas for just about any event here, too.
Eating Well is a feast for a Registered Dietitians' eyes. It has an abundance of food and nutrition-related content as well as a special diets section that includes dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan (egg and dairy free) recipes. Plus, it's just a really pretty site with a lot of really healthy meal ideas.
When I first began cooking allergy friendly meals, I found a lot of recipes that I could easily alter on food manufacturer websites. A lot of these food companies have websites with recipe databases that are searchable. They all include recipes made with their products, of course, so some of them are more useful than others. It all depends on which allergens you are avoiding.
For me, these sites mainly just serve as inspiration for dishes that we can have. Many of the recipes you'll find have an ingredient or two that can be substituted or omitted with good results. There are so many so I'm not going to list them here but here's a tip: If you have a favorite allergy friendly substitute such as dairy free cheese, go to the website for that company and you'll find all sorts of inspiration!
You've got some recipes...now what?
Well, isn't it obvious? Get cooking! Here's a challenge - try a new recipe every week. Then, as the weeks go by, you will have discovered more and more options that your family can have. I've talked to a lot of people who are managing food allergies and most of them say that they eat a lot of the same dishes over and over (and over!) Keep your taste buds interested by trying new things (and don't forget to have some fun with it)!
Now that you've got a collection of recipes, be sure to read the Organizing Recipes page.