Do you feel anxious about friends and family cooking for your child during the holidays? Manpreet Azad – Author, allergy mum & founder of Food Allergy Fit – understands how you feel. Here she is sharing her top tips for an inclusive allergy friendly Christmas meal. These tips are designed to be shared with anyone who will be cooking for your food allergy family over the festive season. Sharing these in advance can help everyone relax and enjoy the day!
About the Author
Manpreet Azad is a mum of two and a passionate food enthusiast with a love for entertaining. She had to make dramatic changes to her and her family’s lifestyle when her daughter was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies.
Manpreet is the author of ‘Allergy-friendly Christmas Recipes‘ , a book of allergen free festive dishes the whole family can enjoy. She is the founder of Food Allergy Fit, and often hosts virtual meet ups for those affected by allergies.
Manpreet’s top tips for an inclusive allergy friendly Christmas
Are you cooking for someone who has food allergies this Christmas?
As a mum of a daughter with multiple severe food allergies, I wanted to share some tips that could help you to keep your guests with food allergies safe this Christmas.
1. Checking food labels!
It sounds so simple, but one of the most common causes of allergic reactions has been from misreading (or not reading) food labels. It can be easy to assume if one product is OK then different varieties and products in that range must be. That’s not always the case!
I had a friend who knew my daughter could eat Jammie Dodgers and bought the mini ones for her, not realising the ingredients for the smaller ones were different and contained her allergens! Even things like icing sugar have different ingredients. Some may contain traces of milk and egg whilst other brands don’t. It’s really important to really scrutinise those labels!
Then there are foods that have ‘hidden’ allergens. By this, I mean foods that you just wouldn’t expect to contain milk and egg, like gravy granules and stock cubes for example. Some meats like sausages and hams might also contain milk – so you get the point here, you need to check every single label! 😊
Watch out for ‘Vegan’ labelled foods too. Many of them contain nuts, and pea protein which isn’t an allergen listed in the top 14, but it’s from the same family as peanut and an increasing number of children are allergic to this.
2. Cross contamination
An allergen can be transferred accidentally when you are cooking with allergens or serving allergens together. This can include spillages and splatter when cooking on the hob, sharing spoons and utensils, not washing knives, chopping boards, oven trays and dish cloths.
The easiest thing for you would be to prepare the allergy safe food first. Cover it and put it away before preparing and cooking food with allergens. When serving the food, remember to serve on separate plates and keep away from food that contains the allergens.
If you’re serving food buffet style, its best to let the guest with allergies pile up their plate first. Once guests start picking food from the buffet, it’s inevitable allergens will get transferred and contaminate the safe food!
Keep wipes to hand and ensure everyone has washed their hands after eating. There have been multiple occasions where children have been playing and a child has developed a reaction from allergens being transferred to toys and balloons through the transfer from traces of food on their hands to the toys.
If it’s at all possible then remove those allergens from the foods you are cooking and avoid the chance of this happening altogether! It may not be as difficult as you might think! I have a few of my favourite allergy-friendly Christmas recipes in my ebook, which you can download here. Or you can book a slot at my Christmas Cooking Class 3rd December 2022. It is an online class and children are also welcome!
3. Find out your guests’ favourite foods AND ones they don’t like
Just because someone isn’t allergic doesn’t mean they will eat it – accept that someone who has food allergies has food likes and dislikes just like everyone else. So, it’s worth checking with the parent what foods the child likes and ask for product recommendations. It will be make the day much easier for everyone!
It’s important to understand that for a child with food allergies, trying new foods can be a very anxious experience. A busy environment with lots of people is not an ideal time to be introducing anything new, so take the pressure off you both by sticking to tried and tested favourites.
4. Ask for recipes
The parents are used to cooking for their child so don’t feel shy in asking them to share their recipes with you. The child will be used to this food and more likely to enjoy it while feeling safe.
If you’re looking for allergy-friendly Christmas recipes, download my ebook or book a space at my allergy-friendly Christmas Cooking class!
5. Remember to reassure the child
It is normal for a child with food allergies to feel anxious when someone else is preparing their food. Reassure the child that you have used their safe ingredients. Depending on the child’s age, you can list the ingredients used and explain how you safely prepared it and kept it separate from any other allergens (e.g. using a lid when cooking and keeping it covered to prevent splashed and spillages from other food).
This will go a long way in helping them feel safe and enjoy their food without having to worry!
Manpreet’s next online Christmas cooking class will be on 3rd December 2022. Children are also welcome! Contact her for more information and to book.
Delicious Allergy-Friendly Christmas Recipes for the whole family
Say goodbye to cooking multiple Christmas dishes to suit food allergies or intolerances and say hello to cooking mouth-watering allergy-friendly festive dishes the entire family can enjoy!
Manpreet’s unique guide offers delicious, easy-to-make recipes for the perfect Christmas. Using only simple ingredients, with time-saving tips, you can have a stress-free Christmas Day. Have more time to spend with your family, instead of being stuck in the kitchen!
This guide is everything an allergy-friendly Christmas cookbook should be, starting from how to adapt recipes to suit your allergies, while still tasting incredible, as well as how to plan your Christmas Day traditions around your young family, for a magical and joyful Christmas for everyone!
Manpreet has kindly shared one of her favourite recipes from the book, dairy and egg free gingerbread biscuits. Enjoy!
Dairy Free and Egg Free Gingerbread Biscuits
- 175 g plain flour
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 60 g dairy free spread
- 90 g soft light brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- Sift the flour, then add your dried spices and baking powder. Mix together and add your dairy free spread. Using your hands or a blender combine to form a consistency of breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar.
- In a separate dish, whisk together the sunflower oil and golden syrup and add to rest of the mixture. Stir it all together. It may seem as though it’s too crumbly to form a dough but keep mixing together and use a bit of pressure until you get a dough – I promise it will happen! (Otherwise, you can add a little extra spread).
- Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees and grease your baking trays.
- Roll out the dough to about half a centimetre thick and cut into shapes using your biscuit cutter. Then place on your greased baking tray.
- Place the tray in the fridge for 10 minutes (this helps them keep their shape in the oven, otherwise they will expand and lose their shape).
- Place in the oven and cook until golden brown, for 10 minutes. They will harden as they cool.
- Once cooled, decorate with dairy free and egg free icing sugar.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar for a lovely snowy Christmassy effect!
Please share your own tips for an allergy friendly Christmas in the comments below!
We’d also love to hear about your favourite allergy free Christmas recipes and treats! And if you haven’t snapped up an advent calendar yet, check out this round up of the best allergy free options. x
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