I can even begin to comprehend how difficult of a life it must be to be plagued with food allergies and intolerances, being such a lover of food. In my life, I’ve chosen a lot of the foods that I do not want to eat, maybe for health (being healthy) reasons or maybe for personal preference. However, I’ve never been faced with foods that I cannot eat- foods that will make me sick or itchy or upset my stomach, or worse, have to go to the hospital for.
So it completely makes sense to me that food for some people can seem like more of an adversary than a friend. If food is the thing that makes you sick, of course you are going to defend yourself against it. Food becomes a scary thing. It’s as far from enjoyment as possible and the goal when you eat is no longer that it’s delicious, but simply that it doesn’t cause you discomfort or pain.
I recently went through a very scary episode of contact allergy where I needed to be on oral steroids and antibiotics. It was my first time to have an allergic reaction to anything. My face became red, swollen and itchy. Even though this wasn’t a food allergy and hopefully doesn’t become anything chronic, my body still reacted to various things I ate. When I had things that were particularly sugary like a breakfast bar or things that may have been a tad too spicy like Indian curry, my face would flare up and I would get quite itchy.
That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands and create somewhat of a “cleaner” menu to eat at least during the first few weeks while I was battling this ailment. The following five recipes were what I alternated eating. They do not contain the common eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, crustacean, seafood, dairy, eggs, wheat and soy) that typically affect people.
That being said, feel free to customize the recipes as you see fit. Some people are allergic to more that the common allergens and some people are allergic to just specific things. I find that sugar is a common inflammatory agent and should be avoided the best you can. And at least initially, it’s better to work with less ingredients and stick to the cleaner, maybe slightly blander foods because the less you have in your system, the less your body needs to react to. If you are living with a chronic allergy, then it’s best to take time and familiarize yourself with what gives you issues. It will be better and more comfortable for you in the long run.
1. Vegetable Pho
This was my go-to recipe when I was having allergic reactions. I love how clean the vegetable broth tastes, which somehow amplified all flavors of the other ingredients I put in like mushrooms, zucchini and a whole slew of other vegetables. Aside from vegetables being really good for you, they also help with inflammation. I also loved that you could feel full after this meal from the soup, the noodles, and finally the vegetables. I personally added a bit of organic tofu in as I knew from the past that I didn’t tend to have reactions to soy, but if you’re staying away from that, then adding beans or peas to the noodles would be a great substitution as both are filled with fiber and protein, but do not contain the common allergens. The addition of additional salt or maybe a bit of coconut aminos is up to you, though I generally find that cleaner tasting items tend to be more agreeable especially when I’m itchy or not feeling well from what I eat.
(Makes 2 bowls)
- 2 cups vegetable broth (combine 8 cups of water to 2 chopped carrots, 2 sticks celery, chopped and one onion, sliced – cook on medium heat for 45 minutes)
- 2 cups chopped vegetables/mushrooms/beans of your choice
- 2 servings rice noodles, cooked
- salt and pepper to taste
2. Mushroom Brown Rice Soup
This is a take off of a classic mushroom barley soup, but because barley does contain gluten, it can be substituted for brown rice or another grain such as quinoa.
(Makes 3-4 bowls)
- 4 cups mushroom broth
- 1/4 cup barley
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup green peas, frozen
- olive oil
- salt to taste
3. Vegetable Casserole
I love this recipe just because it contains a ton of vegetables and tastes amazing. It happens to be allergy-friendly, but for those with a night-shade allergy, feel free to substitute for other vegetables. In the case of tomatoes, I find that plums and a little lemon juice are excellent substitutes. Just put everything together and bake for about 35 minutes on 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
(Makes 8 servings)
- 1 eggplant, peeled, salted, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
- 1 fennel, sliced
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1-16 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
4. Kale Pesto with Corn and Quinoa Pasta
I love making vegan pestos because they taste just as good as ones with cheese. The secret is lemon juice (and sometimes, a bit of nutritional yeast). I made a vegan avocado pesto in the past and that recipe can certainly be used as I substituted pumpkin seeds instead of the usual pine nuts.
However, those wishing to incorporate more greens into their pesto can follow the recipe below. It makes 8-10 servings, but the great thing about pesto is it can be frozen. I usually put mine into little ice cube trays and that way if I wanted to make an individual portion of pesto pasta, I can just take one cube out.
A special note is if you think you may have a wheat allergy, to go with the many wheat-free pastas available at grocery stores today. There is a great many varieties made from brown rice, corn and quinoa, which are all delicious.
(Makes 8-10 servings)
- 2 cups packed kale leaves, cut up with stems removed
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
5. Any Fruit Fruit Crumble
I love my Any Fruit Crumble. The focus is really on fresh fruit that’s in season and not overly sugary ingredients. This recipe is particularly good for that reason. The crumble topping was originally made from almonds, coconut and flax, but the almonds can easily be substituted for garbanzo bean flour. It is sweetened with just a tad of brown rice syrup. As for the filling, the amount of sweetness is up to you. A good substitute for brown rice syrup in the filling could be stevia as the amount is fairly small and won’t affect the fruit’s flavor too much.
(Makes a 10-inch pie)
- 1 almond flax crumble topping
- 1 bag frozen berries
- 2-3 peaches, sliced (can substitute with fruit of choice)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (can substitute with fruit of choice)
- 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- butter or oil to grease pan