Allergen-free treats for the whole class

According to Health Canada, dairy, eggs, and nuts are some of the most common food allergy culprits for young kids.

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According to Health Canada, dairy, eggs, and nuts are some of the most common food allergy culprits for young kids. Though my kids never suffered from any, there were friends and classmates that were sensitive to one of the above allergens. This added a challenge when sending treats to classroom parties or having those friends over for play dates.

Baking treats without nuts was easy. But, how does one eliminate butter and eggs without compromising texture and taste?

Fortunately, I discovered an answer when I was asked to check out a new cookbook. The book, written by Kelly Rudnicki a Chicago based mother, titled The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book is filled with foolproof recipes that are made without dairy, eggs, and nuts.

For me a cookbook is like a novel, it has to be engaging in the first few pages. From Rudnicki’s touching story of when her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies, to the simple recipes with lip-smacking glossy food photos, this book had my full attention. After being pleased with the outcome of few of her recipes, I find myself reaching for Rudnicki’s “labour of love’ when I am looking for something quick and fail-proof.

So how do you cook without dairy, milk or nuts? “It isn’t that big of a deal. It just means making simple adjustments to how you bake by using safe, allergen free ingredients,” writes Rudnicki. She recommends “using good quality ingredients that are widely available and affordable. “

The beginning of the book provides useful substitution and cooking technique information related to baking and food allergies. The cookbook gives a list of Rudnicki’s favourite allergen-free ingredients that she uses in all of her baking. Unbleached flour, dairy-free shortening (Crisco), Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine, Enjoy life brand chocolate chips, silken tofu, and Tofutti dairy-free sour cream and cream cheese are the “must have “ ingredients for her recipes.

As Rudnicki is from Chicago, I was a little doubtful if I could find some of these. But I grabbed my pencil and paper and headed off to the grocery stores in search for the required ingredients. Though most of the items were available at my neighbourhood grocery store (Save-On Foods), dairy free chocolate chips were only available at a specialty store. (Sugar-Free & More 3434A – 50 Ave. Red Deer)

Some of the substitutes Rudnicki uses for her recipes include the following:

Plain Soy Milk: 1 cup for every cup of dairy milk

Tofutti’s dairy-free sour cream and cream cheese: for recipes that call for either of the dairy versions

Unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana: ¼ cup for every egg

Water: 1 tablespoon for every egg

Flax Meal: Replace each egg with 1 tablespoon flax meal and 3 tablespoons hot water; let stand 5 minutes, until thickened

Soy Nut Butter : use instead of peanut butter and nuts, to taste

The cookbook also includes practical advice and tips for parents when dealing with classroom and birthday parties.

Rudnicki recommends parents to meet the teacher before the start of the school year to discuss their child’s allergy and to create a game plan for birthday celebrations and holiday parties. If birthdays are celebrated in the classroom, Rudnicki suggest to ask your child’s teacher to adopt a non food celebration policy. Instead of sending cupcakes, cookies and candy to school, parents could instead send in fun trinkets, such as stickers, pencils, games or books.

For holiday parties, Rudnicki urges parents to bring festive health snacks, such as fresh fruit, and sliced veggies.

The advice I appreciate the most is Rudnicki’s suggestion of asking your child’s teacher to send out a letter about food allergies at the beginning of the year. Parents who don’t have children with food allergies sometimes just aren’t aware of how dangerous food allergies can be.

The second part of Rudnicki’s cookbook is devoted to traditional and seasonal recipes which she has substituted with allergy-free ingredients. There are sections devoted to breads, muffins, biscuits and breads, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies and crisps.

The book is an excellent resource for parents who struggle with the challenge of cooking for the entire family when one or more members of the household suffer from food allergies. But, it is also a great tool for parents like myself who just want to send a simple allergy free treat to their child’s classroom.

Rudnicki’s book is a welcome addition to my culinary library, and I’m looking forward to using it on a regular basis.

To order the book or to learn more about Kelly Rudnicki you can go to the following link. http://www.foodallergymama.com

Banana Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana

3 tablespoons water

2  3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dairy-free buttermilk (1 c. of soy milk mixed with 1 T. vinegar. Let sit 5-10 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350ºF, and spray two 8-inch baking pans with dairy-free baking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine margarine, sugar, bananas, and water. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder with a wire whisk.

Alternate the flour mixture with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pans, and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake tester comes clean.

Cool completely before slicing.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

2 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon. salt

In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment combine shortening, sugar, applesauce and vanilla thoroughly. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture and mix on low until combined. Chill dough in refrigerator for one hour or more.

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness on floured board. Dip cookie cutters in flour and cut out desired shapes. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very light golden. Cool completely on baking sheet.

Chocolate Chip Brownies

1/2 cup dairy-free shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup silken tofu

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly combine the shortening, granulated sugar, tofu, and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, powder, baking powder, and salt with wire whisk. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture, and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Pre-heat oven to 350F, and spray an 8-inch square dish with dairy-free baking spray. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely, and dust with sugar.

Cupcakes

 ½ cup dairy free margarine

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup silken tofu

2 cup cake flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. In a small measuring cup combine the soy milk, vanilla and tofu. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add the flour and soy milk mixture to the margarine mixture in thirds.

Pour batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

 

Creamy vanilla frosting

 1 cup dairy free margarine

2 tablespoon Soy Milk

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the margarine, soy milk, vanilla and salt until incorporated. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy.

Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at madhubadoni@gmail.com. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com.

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