If you have read our blog before, you have likely noticed that my mom, well, can’t eat anything, and I can generally eat whatever I want….which is not always a good thing, I might add! My mom, over the past number of years, has cut out gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs from her diet, all in a pursuit of actually feeling well and being able to leave the house!
Growing up, my mom cooked and baked constantly. I enjoyed baking with her, and definitely started trying my hand at making things for myself or others in the kitchen. My mom is very skilled in the kitchen – she can mix & match, swap ingredients and (now) turn a normal recipe into an allergen-free recipe no problem.
Some of her skills were passed to me, but mostly I watch and learn and glean from her knowledge, especially in regards to cooking for those with allergies.
I had a dinner party the other night for some of the leaders on my team. Normally, your first thought with a party would be the food, but this was a party full of tea lovers, so I took care of the iced tea first! A fabulous Sunrise Strawberry iced tea, and another team member was bringing Matcha mixed with orange juice. Just fabulous!
There were a number of food allergies among the group, so I did my best to work around those, especially knowing from my mom how tough it can be to go somewhere and not be able to eat. I think I did well, for the most part, except for forgetting that one of the guests can’t have eggs….and then making an Angel Food Cake… Oops!
One thing I have learned about allergen-free baking is to keep it simple, keep it fresh, and make it from scratch.
Boneless Skinless Chicken with a Green Tea rub
Holla Holla Burgers
The main course was a simple one – we were BBQ’ing! I threw some boneless skinless chicken in a marinade overnight, and then my hubby threw it on the BBQ – simple! For the marinade, I kept it as simple as I could – a citrusy, fresh green tea rub mixed with olive oil. That’s it! It can easily be allergen-free – you just need to keep looking at your ingredients along the way with every step, and when in doubt, ask someone with allergies if you are doing it right!
For the burgers, I used a classic recipe that my family found a few years ago, and I knew it worked for allergies. I did have a little trouble keeping the burgers together, though, I will say. The avocados weren’t ripe enough, and even though I tried this quick trick in the blender, I think it blurred how much I had and I put in too much of the avocado into the mixture. I doubted my instincts, too, and didn’t throw them in the freezer first, which I think would have helped them stay together on the BBQ.
*Quick Tip: I LOVE this manual food processor from Pampered Chef, especially for things like mincing onions. No tears, no fuss, and no cutting! I love getting my son involved whenever I can with cooking and baking, and even though he is just three and a half, he could easily do this step and be a part of the process. He loves the manual food processor, too…I actually can’t let him see me using it unless I am prepared to have him jump in and help!
Again, this recipe doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, and the only “filler” is avocado, which will be fine unless your guest has a specific allergy to that.
*Note: The next day, I took the leftover, frozen patties and did them in the oven and they were perfect! Always better on a BBQ, I say, but they held together great.
Side Dish: Zesty Quinoa Salad
I was only providing one side dish, so this was an easy one as well. When you are looking at cooking for those who need a gluten-free diet, rice or quinoa can be a great alternative to pasta. Yes, I know there are a lot of gluten-free pastas out there, but sometimes store-bought gluten-free items (like bread or pasta) can be hit or miss, so either ask your friend what they buy or avoid the pasta.
This salad is a family favourite, and you can easily swap out tomatoes for peppers if your crowd prefers that. The dressing is really light and again, quite simple.
Dessert: Angel Food Cake
So here is where I slipped up and forgot about the egg allergy. Otherwise, it was a perfect gluten-free dessert (dairy-free, too) and it turned out really well. I definitely cheated though and went to mom for this one. I didn’t have to do the work of finding a good, gluten-free recipe…I just stole one of hers from this cookbook! I also may have stolen some of the ingredients from her as well… 🙂
A good tip though – if you are cooking for someone, you may as well ask for the teaspoon of this or that. Things like xanthan gum and white rice flour can be expensive, and you likely won’t ever need them again, but your gluten-free friend will always have these things in their house and likely wouldn’t mind sharing a teaspoon of it with you.
Angel Food Cake
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
12 egg whites
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1. In a small bowl, sift together rice flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and xanthan gum. Resift and set aside.
2. In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. White beating, add lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt. Continue to beat until egg whites are stiff. Gradually add sugar. Continue to beat until mixture is very stiff and glossy but not dry.
3. Sift dry ingredients, one-quarter at a time, over beaten egg whites. Gently fold in each addition until well-blended. Fold in almond extract. Spoon into prepared pan. Run a knife through the batter to remove large air bubbles. Smooth top with a moist rubber spatula.
4. Bake immediately in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan over a funnel or bottle until completely cooled. Using a spatula, loosen the outside and inside edges of the pan. Remove from pan.
So there you have it! You can do your part to cook for your guests and they will be wow’ed that they can eat everything….just not the egg allergy guest, she will be sad.