Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Allergy Strategy & My Recipe Binders

Yesterday woke up and thought about going to the grocery store later these week. We are not a self sustaining family and I don't miss canning from my childhood. I am impressed with the mama's out there in the blogs that do self sustain and can. A couple of times I have even thought about canning myself but I'm just not ready yet. I'm more of a freezer fan if that saves me at all. I like to pick fresh fruits off the tree or vine when they are in season and bring them home get them stored in the freeze for months to come. As for the rest off to the grocery store I go.
But how do I do it with multiple food allergies? One child is allergic to nuts, dairy, eggs and some fruits, another child is allergic to legumes and outgrowing eggs, and another child is allergic to eggs and white fish. I myself am allergic to canned tuna fish, scallops and possibly mushrooms in case anyone around here is interested lol. Well with that being said you can see how cooking could be a daily struggle. Oh and did I forget to mention a couple of years ago one of the kids had to be on a high calorie intake diet. So the foods for the kid who need more calories consisted of lots of dairy which was a danger to the kid with the dairy allergy. It would have been easier if the doctor said "Hey Luisa can you pick up the sun and the moon and make them collide?" My response would have been "Why sure it would be easier than trying to figure out these daily meals ."
Well since then things are much much better. It took a couple of years to figure out the food allergy situation and learn a few tricks. I adapted them to suit my family. Once I had a handle on that I was thrown the challenge of incorporating a high calorie diet. So that took at least one whole year to figure it in and deal with the daily stress of cooking and snacks. What came out of it was a whole new strategy of what I call the main meal and the add ons. Cook a main item with sides and add the high calorie piece so it does not contaminate the rest of the meal.
Example #1 Hamburgers, french fries, corn and salad. Cook the hamburgers plain add the cheese kids plates who are not allergic to cheese. Increase caloric intake add oil or dairy free margarine to corn and ranch dressing to the salad.
Example #2 Pasta with all the toppings. Cook pasta without sauce just add olive oil. For the topping I have cooked a side of spinach, sausage, shrimp or just have cheese at the table. Each person can have a plate of pasta with what they like and minimize cross contamination.
These are just examples but the idea is to find out a couple of main things that work for your family and see how to adjust and add items. We are not vegan or vegetarian and I don't make the whole family give up things because one person may be allergic. I'm not a fan of coconut oil or products that claim they are substitutes. Because usually the substitutes are expensive and I wonder what are they made from anyway? Sounds like more processed foods.
Although in recent years things have gotten better there is way more awareness out there. Way more recipe sources. Also people are trying to eat healthier so even snacks can be home made. Recently I have been finding more blogs with families living with food allergies and tasty recipes. I now enjoy again trying new recipes and have grown comfortable with just working with recipes and changing an ingredient or two to make it allergy friendly.
Going back to yesterday I knew we need some grocery items so I sat down with my breakfast pulled out my clipboard , blue recipe binder, and this months Real Simple magazine. I jot down what I need and what meals I would like to make. I also look through the blue recipe binder to check on any new recipes I would like to try and add any ingredients to the grocery list. I'm also eyeing a strawberry-rhubarb pie from this months Real Simple. The recipe says to use 2 eggs I'm thinking soy milk for the substitute.
My blue recipe binder is to organize all the tear outs and print outs of things I would like to try. Once they have been made allergy friendly (if needed), tested and approved they go into my permanent binders.
The left one is for meals and the right one is for baking.
So that's how I do it. Most recipes can be be made allergy friendly and put into pretty binders. I hope that this was helpful to other families out there.
I would love to hear from other families to see how they do it?


Lise said...

Hey, Luisa,

Sounds like a great system for your family! I love how you've figured out how everyone can eat the "same" meal despite varied challenges.

I just read a great article about how canning isn't all there is to food preservation and storage (, just in case you're sick of canning forever! :-)

My system used to look very much like yours. Since we decided to eat locally, I've had to re-learn everything. Now it goes more like "I have xyz, and x is about to rot, and there are too many cans of y and barely any of z, so what can I make with x and y?" I've found what I love most about eating locally and storing food is that we rarely ever go grocery shopping.

I get a lot of recipe inspiration from blogs. I was printing out way too many recipes and my try-this binder was busting, so I've starting putting recipes to try in a "kart" on and then printing them out only after I've tried them, if I love it. We'll see how that works over time.

I'm with you on substitutions and imitation food (although we do love some fake vegetarian sausage...). But I have learned to LOVE coconut oil, after lots of reading which has convinced me of its healthfulness. To me, it's worth the expense and is more "real" than margarine.

This was a great post!
:-) Lise

Ana said...

Oh boy, I will never again say I have it hard with three allergies and one picky eater husband...

Alicia said...

Wow! You are pretty organized. Our family has no allergies so we have it pretty easy.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Wow - what a challenge you have with different allergies in your family! I love your system - sounds like it works really well. I usually plan my meals a week ahead and write out my shopping list accordingly. I hate having to go to the supermarket more than once a week. My 13 yr old daughter loves to cook and will usually cook dinner at least once a week. She likes to try new recipes so we have loads of cookbooks and cooking magazines for inspiration.

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