By Heidi Hedeker, Baking and Pastry instructor, and Peggy Ryan, School of Culinary Arts instructor
We know that cooking for a group can be stressful, especially when one of your family members or friends has a food allergy. According to the Allergy & Asthma Network, just eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions in the United States: cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
We’re here to help when it comes to your menu! The biggest step you can make is your approach—don’t think about all the food you’ll miss, but instead think about all of the new, wonderful dishes you are adding to your holiday table so it is safe and appealing for everyone.
Here, we offer a few suggestions—followed by a few easy gluten-free recipes—with an excellent resource for more detailed guidelines.
Start by asking your guests if they have any food allergies. If they do, ask them to describe their limitations in a few sentences.
If you’re planning a potluck dinner, email the details about the allergy to your guests. Full transparency and clear communication are essential.
Ask that each person pays close attention to how they prepare their food at home. Suggest that as they prepare their dishes that they wash their hands frequently and if they have an ingredient that is an allergen, like nuts, in their home, that they wash their cutting boards, pots and pans frequently while they cook.
Write clear, accurate labels for each dish to help anyone attending with an allergy avoid specific dishes. And, if you’re not sure if a dish was prepared near a potential allergen, state that clearly on the label. People with allergies will be wowed by your thoroughness.
We realize that Thanksgiving is a food-driven event, but it’s important to remember that it’s not only about the meal. Remember to focus on your other planned activities, like a game of touch football, a long walk through your neighborhood, or watching the parade or football games together. Great conversation and enjoying time with your family and friends will ensure that something like a serious food allergy isn’t more than one more item on your to-do list.
To learn more about potential allergies, visit the Allergy and Asthma Network.
Gluten-Free Bread Sticks
2 cups of rice flour
2 cups of tapioca flour
3 tablespoons of xanthan gum
2 tablespoons of instant yeast
2 cups of parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of gelatin powder
2 ½ cups of milk
2 teaspoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 teaspoons of cider vinegar
- Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.
- Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until well-blended.
- Pipe the mixture onto papered sheet pans, add an egg wash and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.
- Allow to proof until double in size (approximately 30-40 minutes).
- Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
Gluten-Free Rosemary and Cheese Biscotti
2 cups of brown rice flour
1 cup of tapioca starch
1 cup of potato starch
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 ounces of sugar
1 tablespoon of rosemary, chopped
1 cup of sour cream
4 tablespoons of olive oil
6 egg whites
6 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese (or any flavorful, semi-hard cheese)
6 ounces of grated parmesan cheese
3 cups of mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin) or walnuts, chopped
- Combine all dry ingredients in food processor and blend.
- Whisk together all wet ingredients in a bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and then process to make a dough.
- Add cheese, seeds, or walnuts and incorporate—the dough will be slightly dry and just barely hold together.
- Form dough into four long logs.
- Bake for 350°F for 20 minutes, then cool.
- Slice and bake a second time for 5-7 minutes, until barely brown at the edges.