Food Allergy Cooking Basics
Allergy-free food requires more "from scratch" cooking
When your child is diagnosed with severe food allergies, you need to learn new ways to approach common, everyday situations. You need to learn how to determine which foods are “safe” for your child and which are not. You need to learn how to handle social situations, school, travel, and more. And if you're like many parents, you also need to learn how to cook.
Before your child was put on a “strict avoidance” diet you may have done little, if any cooking. These days many busy parents have practically given up cooking altogether and rely instead on sit-down restaurants, fast-food, take-out, ready-to-eat meals from the supermarket, and frozen dinners. Unfortunately, many of these options may either be unsafe or very limited for your food-allergic child. Cooking “from scratch” is the safest way to ensure that your child eats a healthy, balanced, and safe
So where do you start? Well, learning to cook is as simple as 1-2-3:
- Find appropriate recipes
- Understand how to measure ingredients
- Learn specific cooking techniques
Note: if your kitchen isn't actually set up for cooking, you'll want to see our article on Essential Equipment for your Kitchen
Recipes from Safe Eats™
Our Safe Eats™ database
is the perfect place to start your search for recipes that will suit your child's new diet. You can search the database based on your child's specific dietary needs or you can browse by category. There are also many excellent special-diet cookbooks on the market today; our Book Shop
offers a wide selection of popular food allergy cookbooks with customer reviews.
There is a right way and a wrong way to measure ingredients. For example, liquid ingredients are measured using different tools than dry ingredients, and some ingredients are meant to be loosely placed in the measuring cup, while others should be packed in. Here are some online resources for learning the ins and outs of measuring:
Keep in mind that many recipes use abbreviations when specifying measurements:
tsp = teaspoons
T or Tbsp = tablespoons
c = cup
oz = ounces
Need help converting measurements from one measuring system to another? We've got you covered with our resource on Conversion Calculators and Charts
Learning cooking techniques
A recipe is simply a set of instructions for cooking a particular dish. In order to follow these instructions you'll need an understanding of basic cooking techniques. Don't have time to sign up for a cooking course or sit through hours of cooking shows on TV? Don't worry. We've scoured the internet to bring you a host of resources that will get you cooking like a pro in no time. Check out these links to helpful learn-to-cook videos and articles.
- Food Network's cooking techniques videos
View step-by-step instruction for such common techniques as sautéing, deep-frying, deglazing, seeding, folding batter, and braising.
- AZ Central.com's cooking demos
Step-by-step illustrated instructions show you everything from basics like "How to Boil Pasta" and "How to Stir-Fry" to more advanced techniques such as "Shucking Oysters" and "Peeling Pineapple".
- Wegmans' cooking techniques
Sharpen your culinary skills with this combination of videos and illustrated step-by-step instructions for all of the most common cooking techniques, including braising, steaming, stir-frying, grilling, poaching and more.
- Fabulous Foods cooking school
These step-by-step articles (many of which include photo illustrations) cover a range of subjects, including "Cooking Tools", "Cake & Cookie Decorating", "Outdoor Cooking", "How to Grill a Great Steak", "How to Make a Perfect Roux" and more.
- Chef 2 Chef Culinary Portal's online courses
Free online courses to help you learn to cook like a chef. Explanations and recipes covering sauce making, seasoning and flavoring (learn when to season and when to flavor), grilling and smoking, and instructions on French, Italian, Chinese and Cajun cuisines. Although these courses do not include illustrations or videos, they are quite informative.
Approved June 2007. Updated January 2009.
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