Allergies, Away!

Creative Eats and Mouthwatering Treats for Kids Allergic to Nuts, Dairy, and Eggs

Ginger Park and Frances Park

St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books


For safety precautions when cooking with kids, make sure they understand the kitchen drill:
1. Ovens, stovetop burners, pots, and pans in use are HOT.
2. Always use pot holders or oven mitts when handling the above.
3. Pan handles should always point over the stove and not hang over the edge of the counter.
4. No knife handling; all slicing, chopping, mincing, etc., should be performed by an adult.
5. Long hair should be pulled back.
6. Always cook with adult supervision.
For recommended name brands for some items listed below, see here.
In addition to all the pantry items you normally stock such as all-purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder, olive and vegetable oil, nonstick cooking spray, etc., be sure to always have the following on hand:
Soy milk
Soy creamer
Soy butter
Vegan cheese; all varieties
Dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips
Non-dairy sour cream
Non-dairy cream cheese
Vegan mayonnaise
Dairy-free panko bread crumbs
Vegetable shortening (non-hydrogenated)
Unsweetened applesauce
Our recipes require very basic equipment:
Pots, small, medium, and large
Pans, small, medium, and large
Bowls, small, medium, and large
Cookie sheets
Baking sheets
Cake pans
Pizza pan
Muffin pans
Handheld or stand mixer
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Kitchen thermometer
Food processor
Our recipes tend to contain lower sodium than others, by choice. Our father’s untimely death at age fifty-six was caused by hypertension, so we’ve always been conscious of our sodium intake. For example, we don’t add salt to pasta water or sprinkle it on at every stage of the cooking process. Truly, we don’t believe it’s necessary and it only fuels an unnatural desire for more salt.
Also, when cooking, brand names selection is a personal preference. Ours include:
Soy Milk: Silk Soy Milk
Soy Creamer: Silk Soy Creamer
Soy Butter: Earth Balance Soy Butter
Vegan Cheese: Daiya Cheddar Style, Mozzarella Style and Pepper Jack Shreds
Dairy-free Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips: Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Mini Chips
Non-dairy Sour Cream: Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
Non-dairy Cream Cheese: Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Vegan Mayonnaise: Vegenaise
Bread Crumbs: Ian’s Original Panko Breadcrumbs (note: to our knowledge, only the “Original” is dairy-free)
Shortening: Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening (non-hydrogenated)
Justin’s first visit to the allergist’s office confirmed that it would not be his last. That day, a skin prick test was performed on his forearm. The skin was gently scratched and a minute amount of milk protein was placed into the shallow scratch. Seconds later, a giant red wheal appeared, indicating a severe allergy. It was hard to feel optimistic but we tried.
“So it’s just hives we have to worry about, right?” Ginger asked.
The allergist explained to us that Justin’s first exposure to dairy caused hives, but the second reaction could very well be more severe. He went on to tell us that the first reaction to an allergen isn’t always indicative of a second reaction because sometimes the immune system creates a protein called an antibody that works against a particular food. However, the second exposure to the allergen could very well result in an anaphylactic reaction due to the body releasing chemicals, including histamines, that attack the vital organs.
The allergist asked us if we suspected any other food culprits and Ginger told him that once, after she ate some peanuts, Justin broke out in hives. It was time for more skin testing that revealed more bad news. The list of foods that were possibly life-threatening for Justin turned out to be staggering: dairy, nuts, eggs, sesame, and a host of etceteras. His seasonal allergies fared no better: tree pollen, grasses, ragweed. The antihistamine Atarax was prescribed, along with an EpiPen—short for “Epinephrine Injection”—an auto-injector that helps stop a life-threatening reaction, in case he ever went into anaphylactic shock. Wherever Justin went, so did his medicine bag, stuffed with the likes of Atarax, EpiPen, and Benadryl.
Ginger was a wreck, but she took comfort that the odds were good that Justin might, in time, beat his dairy allergy. After all, his allergist had informed us that 75 percent of children outgrew it by their fifth birthday. So there was hope.
For now, anyway, our chocolate shop was Justin’s hazard zone; a mere whiff of chocolate-covered peanuts seemed to make him break out in hives. So much for the proverbial kid in a candy store! Our dream of “breaking chocolate truffles” with our little guy was just that—a dream for now. But we were counting the days.
Up until his second year of preschool, Ginger coasted in the kitchen, serving Justin baked chicken, rice or potatoes, and steamed veggies—bland but supernutritious meals—while we waited for a day we prayed would come, when Justin outgrew his food allergies. In the meantime, a certain reality hovered over her like a slowly darkening sky: What would happen once Justin graduated from half-day preschool to all-day kindergarten? What would he eat for lunch?
Apron on, Ginger began experimenting like a mad foodie with dairy-free, nut-free, and egg-free recipes. In her test kitchen, some dishes were admittedly duds, but others were delicious. Who knew fluffy pancakes were possible when you substituted milk and eggs with rice milk and applesauce? Who knew tofu could replace ricotta cheese in an Italian dish? Deprived? Forget about it! Justin was getting nourishment in every sense of the word. With a Hearty Homemade Wheat Bread sandwich tucked in his lunch box, a slice of chocolate chip cake for a party, and Best Beef Stroganoff for supper, his world just got a little brighter.

Copyright © 2013 by Ginger Park and Frances Park