The Gift of (Allergy Friendly) Food

posted by Andrea | 03/29/2017
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One of Dave and my favorite “gifts” is the gift of food.

I know it might sound odd, but we will often request food for Christmas and birthday gifts — and not just gift cards like you might be thinking (although we DO love restaurant gift cards!)

We’ve requested everything from baked goods, raw cookie dough (to bake on our own), steaks or meat from a nice butcher shop, fresh cinnamon rolls, and homemade meals. My family thinks we’re weird, but food really is one of our favorite gifts — and I think it’s rubbing off on our kids 🙂

Simon’s top requests for birthday gifts were:

  • donuts
  • candy
  • cookies
  • cake

And a sure-fire way to get all our kids excited is to offer an extra-special snack or dessert on an otherwise very normal day.

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It’s probably no surprise then, that I also enjoy GIVING the gift of food to others!

We enjoy having friends over for breakfast and lunch during the school year, inviting grandparents over for dinner, and having cookouts with friends and neighbors during the summer months.

If you’re a long-time reader, you might also remember that I’ve written several posts about giving the gift of food — here are a few of my favorites.

My very first post about the Gift of Food (back in 2011)

Creative (and clutter-free) Food Gifts (2012)

More tips to give the Gift of Food (2014)

However, as you might notice, I haven’t written anything specifically about giving food gifts for the past 3 years.

This is NOT because my love of food gifts has diminished, but rather, because it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to enjoy giving food gifts due to ALL the food sensitivities, food allergies, and self-imposed dietary restrictions that make it almost impossible to prepare something that will actually taste good and something that doesn’t require me driving to 8 different specialty food stores to buy ingredients.

I tried to bring food to a neighbor a few months ago, but they were dairy and gluten free and the mom was doing a Whole30 diet. And a few other families we know have requested meals for various reasons — but their requests were accompanied with a laundry list of things they can’t or won’t eat.

Of course, I realize I’m making the food to help our friends and neighbors, not to please myself, but I will say that for someone who really enjoys cooking for others, all the restrictions take away much of the fun and enjoyment for me.

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Since I’ve been running into more and more food sensitivities and allergies, I came up with 2 or 3 simple go-to meals I could make when people have some of the more common food sensitivities (dairy, gluten, etc.)

These are all foods I can deliver in one pan/pot (for easy transportation) and recipes I can make WITH INGREDIENTS I HAVE IN THE HOUSE.

If they are dairy-free…

  • Chicken Pot Pie (see notes below)
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit salad or lettuce salad
  • Some sort of dairy-free dessert (often pie or bars that don’t have chocolate)

I make Chicken Pot Pie with water and margarine or oil instead of milk and butter. I truly almost never use margarine anymore, but I’ve made it this way for our family and we couldn’t tell any difference.

I’ve made this for 3 dairy-free families and all 3 raved about it and asked for the recipe.

A few more ideas with ingredients I almost always have on hand: 

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If they are gluten-free…

This is my favorite option for gluten-free families because everyone loves the chocolate banana muffins and it’s SO easy to whip up.

A few of my other go-to gluten-free ideas are:

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If they are vegetarian…

In general, meatless soups, meatless pasta dishes, and meatless breakfast entrees are pretty safe and simple ways to cook for vegetarians. Sometimes, if the rest of their family DOES eat meat, I’ll pull out a portion of the meal for the vegetarian first, and then add meat to the rest of the dish for the other family members.

A few other vegetarian ideas are:

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If they have more than one food sensitivity…

I’ve found that, in general, families with multiple food sensitivities don’t often ask others to make meals for them because it’s too much of a hassle.

That said, IF I come across a family with many food sensitivities, I simply ask them to email me one of their favorite recipes and/or give me a few favorite restaurants that offers food their family can eat.

Then I either try to make the recipe they suggest, buy a gift card to the restaurant they suggest, or (if I know them well) order food to-go from that restaurant and deliver it to them.

For me, the worst is when they are dairy-free AND gluten-free because almost everything our family eats is full of gluten and dairy. I can usually cook without one of the two food groups — but when I have to cook without both, I have a hard time coming up with ideas.

I’ve also never made anything for a vegan… I can’t even fathom that 🙂

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In general, I still feel a little unsettled cooking for families with allergies (I’m always nervous something in my kitchen has residue on it from making other foods that could cause an issue) but by having a few simple, go-to recipes on hand, I don’t feel as stressed wondering “what to make”.

If they request dairy-free, gluten-free, or vegetarian, I have my trusty list of favorite recipes that I give them and let them pick whichever option sounds the best. Done!

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A few more thoughts:

Ues meal chain sign-ups if possible (they are so handy and you can usually see what others are bringing so you don’t bring the same food multiple days in a row.)

If there isn’t a meal chain sign-up, I’ve found email is the best way to communicate with families who are in need of food as you won’t risk calling at inappropriate times. Simply email a few recipe options, inquire about the best date and time, etc.

Ask if the family wants the food delivered COOKED or UNCOOKED, and at what time.

Don’t expect to stay and hangout after delivering the food (especially if it’s already cooked and ready to eat).

Try to bring a full meal — it’s very frustrating for me when someone brings a main dish with absolutely no side dishes or anything to go with it. Are we really just going to eat this chicken with no potatoes, veggies, fruit, bread or desserts?

Use disposable containers whenever possible so the family doesn’t have to worry about returning the containers.

You don’t always have to give a meal — sometimes baked goods, snacks for school lunches, or even just dropping off a coffee to a tired new mom are just as thoughtful and helpful as bringing a full meal. Just make sure the family knows you are not bringing a full meal so they can plan accordingly to make their own dinner.

And gift cards to favorite food joints are always appreciated (at least with everyone I know!)

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If you have allergies or food sensitivities, I’d LOVE to get your input on what is most helpful when people bring you a meal. 

Also, I’d love to know of any other simple allergy-friendly food gifts!

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53 comments

  1. Nadia

    03/30/2017

    We have multiple food allergies at our house! My oldest is allergic to wheat, soy, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. She was diagnosed via blood test at 9 months because of some strange reactions and severe eczema (I ate breakfast for dinner- scrambled eggs- and she was up for hours screaming after having my breast milk!), and then my youngest was diagnosed with egg & peanut allergies at 9 months, as well.

    It can be very overwhelming to work around dietary restrictions, especially if you’re not used to doing it on a day to day basis…so I’m impressed that you would even make the effort to make meals for friends with restrictions, Andrea! I can honestly say that we would never expect friends to make complete meals for us. Because we have so many allergens to work around, it can be exhausting to try to explain everything to people, so much so that it can feel like we’re being an extra burden on someone who’s just trying to help out. 😉 And frankly, because of all the allergens we have to work around, there’s always the nagging worry that people won’t think about common ingredients (for example, we can’t have cow milk, which rules out yogurt/cheese/sour cream/butter/etc.)— or that people don’t understand the dangers of cross-contact, which you mentioned.

    Once you learn substitutions and some of the food science behind baking, etc., cooking around dietary restrictions actually doesn’t seem so difficult, but then again, we’ve done it every day for years. 😉 We eat a lot of meals with plain simple ingredients: baked/roasted meats and vegetables, steamed veggies, rice, simple (non-creamy) soups made with broth, vegetables, and chopped or shredded meats, & crock pot meals with meat and veggies. I adapt a lot of easy crock pot recipes from newleafwellness.biz and another blog, chocolatecovderedkatie.com, has easy and delicious vegan/allergy-free/healthy desserts with ingredients you probably have around (like black or white beans…no joke, her recipes are great). In the summertime, grilled meals are easy to adapt for food allergies. Another comment here mentioned tacos, and I second that! We love to make shredded salsa chicken or taco meat and then add toppings that we can each enjoy (we do have to use a special alternative for cheese, however– so dairy allergies/restrictions can complicate that a bit).

    Basically, though, we appreciate a gift card to a grocery store where we like shopping (some of those allergy-friendly substitutions really add up) or gift cards to restaurants or places where we CAN get safe items for our family. I’m not gonna lie, though, one neighbor has brought treats for just my husband and I (we DON’T have any food allergies, unlike our kids), and we REALLY loved that. We bake so many special treats for our food allergic kids, my husband and I didn’t feel one bit guilty eating a dozen “regular” donuts from a local bakery when our neighbor surprised us with a thank-you treat a couple weeks ago. 😉

    (By the way, I LOVE your blog! I’ve been a loyal reader since 2009 when my first child was born and I started reading while on maternity leave. I so appreciate your reasonable approach to everything; it seems like that is hard to come by these days! Thanks for all you do!)

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  2. Mary Ann

    03/30/2017

    Having had food sensitivities myself and having family members who have allergies, I can appreciate the thought and consideration that goes into preparing a special meal.

    I often do roast chicken or crockpot chicken with some simple veggie sides and home-canned applesauce. This is fairly simple and usually provides enough food for both us and the family we’re taking the meal to. I’ll make gravy from the chicken drippings to go with it if they can have it.

    Our pastor had heart surgery last fall and was on a super restrictive diet for a long while. When asking for meals, the person in charge was very careful to specify what he could/couldn’t have. He couldn’t have certain foods but also everything had to be prepared in a very simple way with no sauces or spices to speak of. They did have some salad dressing and seasonings at home he could add to the food and they communicated that. I did roast chicken with green beans and mashed butternut squash. I labeled each item with what it was and what ingredients were included so there were no questions.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds amazing — want to bring me a meal 🙂
    I usually do include a list of ingredients as well — especially if the family is very allergic or sensitive to specific things.

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  3. Lori M

    03/30/2017

    Great post idea. Having some go-to items always helps. Just wanted to let you know that the Biscoff spread is not gluten-free.

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  4. Bridget

    03/29/2017

    Oh I didn’t used to understand the whole allergy and dietary restriction until about a month ago. My 3 month old is breastfeeding and having an intolerance to something I am eating, so I basically became a vegan overnight needing to remove, dairy, egg, and soy from my diet. It has been and eye opening experience this past month. The Oh, She Glows Cookbook has been a great help to me.
    Thanks for your post.

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    Rachel Sherwood Reply:

    This happened to me too. We ended up seeing a nutritionist that could pin point it to wheat. We have been gluten free for a year now and my son is so much better but it’s a whole new way to cook.

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    Bridget Reply:

    I have been wondering if we should do allergy testing. I had not thought of a nutritionist. Did you do any allergy testing? How old was your son when you learned of the gluten allergy?

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    Rachel Sherwood Reply:

    Ok so this is the interesting thing about allergy testing and now mind you i am not a Dr. or nutritionist this is just what I have been learning over the past year and my experience with my son. Most illness, pains, skin irritations etc.. are caused by or made worse through foods and sugar makes the issues more noticeable and inflamed. We may have a mild sensitivity to something that goes un noticed as “that’s just how it always is..” this can go on for years and this could sometimes never be detected by allergy tests as it is not severe enough. This was our case after months of trying everything including very expensive topical creams with steroids in them that I was horrified to put on my baby and these only solved the issues mildly and temporarily. The Doctors said he was fine and he would grow out of it but meanwhile we were all miserable! I was looking for other options. I stumbled upon this nutritionist who is certified in “nutrition response testing” this is key. She did a mussel testing that could tell her exactly what my body and my baby’s body was having trouble digesting. Wheat flagged for both of us and i said oh i never had issues with wheat before and she said well not that you are aware of. So basically what she was saying is I was always mildly “sick” but by body learned to deal with it my baby 6 months old at this time his body was new to this and it was showing up as a horrible itchy rash that was keeping everyone awake all night. Anyways, I know this is a lot but i hope it helps and you don’t have to suffer like I did for so long. With her suggestion i eliminated wheat, refined sugar and now almost all grains as these also turn to sugar and after almost one year now my baby has beautiful skin with no medications, I have never slept better had more energy and i am 20 lighter than my pre pregnancy weight all from these small changes. Now don’t get me wrong, I work with food on a daily bases and teach cooking classes and going gluten free and refined sugar free was very hard at first. It got easier when I learned how to cook differently. We still enjoy bread, pizza and cookies just healthier homemade no junk, no gluten no refined sugar options. You need to be careful as there are so many gluten free products that are not healthy and full of sugar. I hope this helps, if you want recipes let me know. I would hate for other moms to suffer as I did when it is truly an easy fix. Remember if you go the nutritionist route like this make she they will do “nutrition response testing” it will seem a little “hocus pocus” but the results are amazing and 100% natural if you stick to the lifestyle change needed for your health. Good luck, let me know if i can be of any more help.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — so interesting. Thanks for sharing Rachel!

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    Jenni Reply:

    I have had a similar experience – we never did allergy testing for our son, but after having a lot of trouble with outbursts/behavior when he was 4, I found out about food sensitivities and did an elimination diet like Rachel. We were also concerned about chronic congestion he had which caused fluid in his ears. His behavior and congestion changed in less than a week, and I lost pesky baby weight (from a later baby ;)) almost effortlessly.

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  5. JJ

    03/29/2017

    We had 3 kids in 3 years. After our first baby was born, I had made enough freezer meals, and people brought so many meals that I didn’t have to cook for a looong time. Then after my second baby, about the same. That baby ended up having a dairy allergy, so with our third we had dietary restrictions. I used to be annoyed when others did, but man I get it now. And it’s scary being on the receiving end when people say, “I didn’t know yogurt was dairy. Or…Butter was dairy.” What?!? We hardly received any meals for our 3rd kid, and that’s when we needed it most. We had just moved a few weeks before his birth, and I had no time to make freezer meals. My last baby ended up with a dairy allergy as well. FYI, Oreos are dairy free. So is the Duncan Hines chewy fudge brownie mix. And Ben and Jerry’s now makes an amazing line of Non-Dairy ice cream. Expensive but worth gifting! Target has 15% off Cartwheel for Ben and Jerry’s this week!

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  6. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    03/29/2017

    We had some friends over who are allergic to dairy and I had a hard time figuring out what to make. We ended up doing a taco bar. I cooked chicken, peppers, and onions with taco seasoning and then laid out a huge assortment of topping so everyone could grab what they wanted. It was a hit!

    We don’t have any dietary restrictions, so I really had to think hard about what to make and double check the labels on everything.

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    Tara Reply:

    Yes a taco or taco salad bar works so well for our family for entertaining and sharing. Works for nearly any allergy/restriction as long as we are careful about the seasonings for beans/meat. It can be a lot of chopping and prep work but usually there are leftovers that are super easy to reuse for another meal or two. Prechopped onions, olives, tomatoes, cilantro and lettuce are always handy to have around in my opinion.

    I like the idea of just asking what someone would eat. I am not difficult to feed despite my intense restrictions. When people do ask me what I eat they’re often surprised. I eat very simple meals filled with lots of whole fruits and veggies. Salads, stir fry, roasted or steamed veggies with garlic, salt and some rice or a baked potato makes me a happy girl. I don’t use rocket science to create my meals. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh, I love the taco bar idea. We actually do this when we have large groups over anyway — even if they aren’t gluten free — because it’s so yummy!

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  7. Anna Marie Peterson

    03/29/2017

    I used to run a B&B and ran into all kinds of issues. One lady had such a list that I couldn’t imagine what I could feed her so I asked her what she ate. She wanted oatmeal with a banana. So that’s what I gave her. She was happy. My husband has a severe dairy allergy so we appreciate seeing the box or bag the meal came from- if any- so we can check things that others might miss. We often have people try to avoid eggs for him- and have to point out that eggs do not come from cows!

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  8. Tara

    03/29/2017

    Oh man. I am so thankful for some seriously expensive allergy treatments my daughter and I have had. At one point we were both eating dairy free, gluten free, soy free and sugar free. At least one of those four ingredients are in pretty much anything prepackaged or served in a restaurant dish. And on top of that I am and have always been vegetarian. I have been the high maintenance girl so often at family gatherings. Now, after extensive treatments I am able to live a 90/10 lifestyle. If I’m maintaining those food standards 90 percent of the time I usually don’t get hit too hard by an every once in awhile exposure to them. I do still avoid any obvious forms of refined sugar as avoiding desserts is pretty simple. I just eat whole fruits or a smoothie instead. I hate feeling high maintenance, but if I ignore these issues I am beyond high maintenance. I’m pretty non-functioning. Gotta choose sanity and life. It does get easier over the years. I don’t think my husband will ever feel excited about it, but he’s learned to cope. Food is not the great event it used to be, but we do find our little excitements every so often. Thanks for posting some great ideas for those with allergies and restrictions. I know how I eat blows most people’s minds. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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  9. Cindy

    03/29/2017

    Andrea,
    Thanks so much for your blog! I read it every day and miss it when you take off your well deserved vacations! Your information is useful, happy, and unique! I too love the various arts of homemaking! Keep up the good work!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Cindy 🙂

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  10. Shan

    03/29/2017

    Andrea, This is a great post! One time I had ACL knee surgery when I was a single Mom with two young children. Our church set us up with quite a number of meals. While we appreciated everyone’s contribution, there were those who put extra effort into the meal preparation and their thoughtfulness was easily felt. More recently my dear friend was dealing with cancer and asked me to be her prayer partner. Since she had decided to go on a vegan diet, I thought that I would make dinner for her and her family each time that we met to pray. Some recipes I tried were more successful than others, but it was the TLC behind all that work that made it “taste” wonderful. I focused on variety, color, taste, and healthy and mostly organic ingredients. It just helped her that she had one meal a week that was prepared by someone else, and she and her family always anticipated my meal with excitement. The presentation, if colorful and beautiful, helped to raise my friend’s appetite. I made vegetable stew, vegan lettuce wrap, vegan pizza, Chinese rice noodles with veggies, and vegan lasagna. Her kids and even her husband enjoyed most of what I made. I think the rice noodles and the lettuce wrap were the biggest hits. It took a lot of work and time, but now that she is with the Lord, I’m so grateful that I was blessed with the privilege for a short period of time to devote one morning to cooking and one afternoon to praying with my friend each week. Vegan cooking is not easy, and mine is a very unique experience. But whenever we take a meal to a family in need, thoughtfulness is an important and even necessary ingredient which can make a well prepared meal taste super delicious.

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    Angela Reply:

    Wow, what an incredible blessing you were to that family! Priceless!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — I’m sure that took so much time and effort for you to come up with creative meals for that family. Good for you — I’m positive they appreciated it!

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  11. Kellie Denton

    03/29/2017

    Omg Andrea this same thing happened to us TWICE after the birth of our son: someone literally dropped off groceries in lieu of “dinner” at 6:00. We also just ended up running out for fast food. GRR! It was a great learning experience. I now set up all the meal trains for my friends and gently include a reminder to make sure food is ready to eat.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know, that specific meal was a turning point for me — ever since then, I have been SUPER diligent about bringing full meals, planning everything in advance, making sure the family is OK with the food I’m bringing, etc. etc.

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  12. Kate

    03/29/2017

    Hi Andrea, as a food allergy lady I do appreciate this post. I never expect anyone to accommodate my allergies and when someone does go out of their way to make something safe and special for me, I am always delighted.

    I can’t wait to try your banana muffins and make them gluten free. It might be helpful to your well-meaning readers to specify that the muffins are GF when you use GF oats. They can’t just pick up a normal Quaker canister and go. The two crops are often grown side-by-side or processed on the same equipment, which can lead to cross contamination. This happened to me and it was just awful.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog and all your ideas!

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  13. Katy

    03/29/2017

    My daughter has a tree nut allergy, which in the grand scheme of food allergies has been very easy for us to manage. Since her severe reaction which led to the diagnosis, I have brought store-bought prepackaged Rice Krispy treats to a few events where each family was asked to bring a pan of bars or cookies. Not because I’m lazy or don’t want to bake…but because I know how hard it can be to tell if a home-baked (delicious) baked good might include nuts. It brings me comfort when I can choose a food item that I know for sure doesn’t have nuts, like the store bought Rice Krispy treats, so that my dessert loving little girl can still have a treat…without risk of needing her EpiPen.

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    Angela Reply:

    I’ve always been grateful, as you put it “in the grand scheme of food allergies” that we are just gluten-free and don’t have to deal with scary and serious things like nut allergies that require EpiPens! Still a hassle sometimes, but at least I don’t have to worry about my daughter or I having a serious reaction – we can handle some upset stomachs and cramps. : ) Good for you for finding a safe and easy solution so that your little one can still have a treat – that’s SO important and helps them to not feel so left out.

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  14. Julie

    03/29/2017

    Dairy free and gluten free here…and not by choice. Imagine the learning curve for us that must eat that way every day. It was exhausting in the beginning!! My kids have never been able to eat dairy or gluten. It is going on 15 years now and we have our meals and I have found suitable substitutions for and we don’t feel we go without. At least not a home.

    For us we are dairy free, but we can have butter…real butter. We have always been able to eat real butter, but we don’t have life threatening “allergies” and for us, it isn’t a true allergy, but severe intolerance.

    I would never ask for a meal, because there are too many hidden sources of gluten and wouldn’t want to gluten my kid or myself accidentally. You are correct in saying that most substitutions would involve buying something special at the store. The closer to basic you stay the easier and safer it would be. Chicken and steamed veggies with applesauce or fruit salad (just cut up various in season fruits) and this easy peanut butter cookie recipe.

    The recipe is as follows.

    1 Cup creamy peanut butter
    1 Cup sugar
    1 egg

    The baking is the same as a regular pb cookie but this is what I do.

    Mix together
    Roll into 1 inch balls
    Crisscross with a fork dipped in sugar.
    Bake at 350 for 8-10 min.
    I let my cookies cool for 10 ish minutes before taking them off the pan.

    Personally, I can’t tell the difference between the regular/old fashioned pb cookie and this recipe.

    I usually prefer to have people over as opposed to going to someone else’s home. I almost always have to still cook and bring food when we go to someone’s home. I never expect people to accommodate our “diet”. I will usually ask what is being made to see if we can eat it other wise I will try and make our version of what they are having. Dessert is the hardest and I always bring dessert. Eating this way is WAY MORE expensive and I don’t know why anyone would do this by choice. It is time consuming and exhausting. Eating out and vacations are ALOT of work. So much so that I prefer to not eat out and we usually vacation where I have a full kitchen and can cook (no vacation for mom).

    It is a treat when someone cooks for us and their effort is never taken for granted. We have great families and now they know our intolerances enough to be able to cook some food for us. They don’t make us feel like it is an inconvience when they cook for us. (Yup, I know it is…I cook 3 meals a day almost 365/year). When kids come and play for the day here, I have moms pack their kids lunch as most kids won’t eat what we have to eat.

    I am sure your dishes are VERY much appreciated

    Great post and so helpful.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds exhausting! I get so sick of making 3 meals a day because my kids are all home for lunch still — but I feel like it’s going to be more annoying when I have to pack lunches for them all every night. I can’t even imagine doing it all while working around food allergies!

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    Julie Reply:

    Two more ideas. Rice Krispy Treats are usually good for people with wheat/dairy allergies. Meatloaf it also a great idea and instead of using oats or bread crumbs when mixing I either just leave it out or use rice krispies or rice chex and put them in the food processor so they are more like bread crumbs.

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    Angela Reply:

    It’s so great of you to accommodate families with food allergies! I have Celiac disease and one of my daughters is gluten free as well, and it makes us feel very uncomfortable and high-maintenance when people think we “can’t eat anything”, and I might be hesitant to eat what someone else cooked if I wasn’t sure they understood our restrictions. I’m sure you have quite a reputation as a fabulous cook though, so I’m sure no one would question your meals! All your meal ideas sound great and I can’t wait to try them! We love your GF banana muffins.

    There have been a couple of times, like school holiday parties, when the well-meaning mom in charge of the snacks has very proudly presented my daughter with a rice krispie bar, not realizing that rice krispies are not gluten free. (It’s confusing because they were GF for a very short time). We just give a very big, appreciative smile and “save our bar for later”. ; ) Same mistake with oats – regular oats are not GF. Little things like that make it really difficult for the general public to safely make meals for those with allergies. Kudos to you for making the effort to do this! I’m sure those families are VERY appreciative! A night off from cooking is SUCH a treat, especially for those of us who have to think harder about it!

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    Sarah Reply:

    Similar experiences for us too Angela. Our family and friends are understanding but the first year or so after my daughter’s coeliac diagnosis were fraught. Grandparents nearly using the same butter to make sandwiches or the school using the same serving utensils when a tiny crumb of gluten leaves daughter doubled up in pain and ghostly pale for days. Not to mention the hidden damage to her gut lining. We have it all covered now but just eat at home and take food everywhere we go!

    I do get cross when people dismiss dietary restrictions as being faddy or awkward. Until tested you don’t know if you carry the genes for coeliac disease for example, and it still isn’t known what ‘switches’ it on. Thumbs up for your thoughtful approach Andrea 🙂

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    Rachel Sherwood Reply:

    This is great, I have also used quinoa in meatloaf in place of breadcrumbs. Rice crispy are good too but be aware of extra sugar that can also cause health issues.

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  15. Megan

    03/29/2017

    This is a great post. It’s so fun to take a meal to a family you know they will enjoy. I love your point that you don’t have to take a full meal. Recently one of my friends dropped off a coffee and doughnuts when I had two sick kiddos at home. Made my day for sure!

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  16. Jen

    03/29/2017

    These are great tips! I also always include a small note card where I’ve written exactly what I’ve prepared. Believe it or not, we have gotten meals where we had NO idea what it was! Also, typically when I make someone a meal, I prepare the same thing for my own family, However, I always do so in a different pan! We have gotten frozen lasagna (ick!) with half of the lasagna missing! It always amazes me.

    Maybe I’m weird but when I take a meal, I put my best foot forward. If I’m taking a salad, I include dressing and I put it in a disposable dish–I don’t hand them the bag of salad! If I’m taking dessert that would be nice with whipped cream, I include it. I remember my mom taking meals to people and taking iced tea or lemonade! To me, it’s just being thoughtful. Most of the time, the people who are receiving the meal are at a time in their lives (new baby, death, sickness) where the little things aren’t a priority and they appreciate that someone remembers them. I’ve also learned that if there are small children, a box of ice cream sandwiches or something similar is preferable over a fancy pie that they probably won’t eat. Know your audience! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    AMEN — and YES to everything you mentioned! I usually do include the recipe cards as well 🙂

    Also, after Simon was born, we literally had someone drop off a box of uncooked pasta, a jar of store-bought sauce, and a frozen bag of broccoli (at 5:00). I was SO mad, I just sent Dave to Arby’s!

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    Sarah Reply:

    Not to defend delivering an uncooked meal in the slightest, but I’d also reiterate that confirming the TIME is essential. A 6:00 dinner has always been early for us, and we typically eat at 6:30 or 7:00, even with babies and small children.

    We had a few hot meals dropped off at 5:00 that I either had to figure out how to keep warm, or eat early and completely throw off our schedule.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, we eat dinner around 4:30 or 4:45 (yes, really) and I ALWAYS let people know that if they offer to bring a meal — so bringing uncooked food at 5:00 was pretty untasteful in my opinion 🙂
    And “uncooked” is an understatement — it was just groceries. Bringing a fully-prepared meal that simply needed to go into the oven would have been one thing, but completely unprepared food that was going to get my pots and pans dirty and take time and effort on my part to prepare (when I was planning to have a night off) was probably the main reason I was frustrated.
    But yes, I totally agree with you that verifying the timing is so important. You couldn’t imagine eating at 4:30 and my kids would never last until 6:30 or 7:00 (they are usually sleeping by 7:00!)

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    Alicia Reply:

    Maybe I’m the minority here, but I actually LIKE getting groceries in liu of meals ! I like that I have the option to cook it when I want or is convenient for our family, as long as it’s something easy to prepare. I guess I also never “bank” on someone bringing me a meal, even if they say the will, so having groceries dropped off at 5 wouldn’t bother me! I would just appreciate the gesture. But again, maybe I’m the minority here!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’d have to say you’re in the minority! For me, the whole point of bringing a meal to someone is to save them time and energy… not just save them a few bucks on groceries they could have purchased themselves. If someone is going to bring me a meal, I want to simply put it in the oven or just put it on plates and eat it 🙂

    Also, we eat at 4:30 or 4:45 (and I usually make my meals earlier in the day so they are ready to go) so needing to start making a meal from scratch at 5:00 when everyone is “starving” is not going to happen at our house!

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  17. Organize 365

    03/29/2017

    Having had kids with food sensitivities I LOVE that you have created some great options. I agree that once the food restrictions go beyond what you have specified, it’s too hard to porvide a meal for someone.

    These are some awesome suggestions and a post I will refer back to often!

    🙂
    Lisa

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  18. Ruth

    03/29/2017

    Asian food is generally my go to when I am giving food. It just naturally doesn’t include wheat or dairy. Although it was only when my kids couldn’t eat wheat I learned wheat was in soy sauce!!!! Such a shocker!
    But teriyaki chicken or mixed veggies with beef and rice and people love it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I feel like I’m not very good at cooking Asian foods (it never tastes “authentic” to me) but maybe others wouldn’t mind. I do love Asian foods — good idea!

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  19. Shelley

    03/29/2017

    We recently invited the family over to our house for dinner and found out the day before they were coming that he was dairy free and she was gluten-free… Yikes! I had the hardest time coming up with the meal, and although I shouldn’t have been, I was almost aggravated at them for how hard it was to pull a simple meal together. Not sure what they eat night after night because mine was a one hit wonder- LOL They really are a lovely couple though.

    I just never know how many of these new “allergies or preferences” are the trend, because this stuff is so new. I never heard of any of these things growing up.

    [Reply]

    Ruth Reply:

    The food issues are such a hassle and tbh, I didn’t believe many people…until it happened to me! Karma. My kids can’t eat any wheat, dairy, overly processed food, etc.
    I will say that the reasons though are things that people before thought was “normal”.
    For example, none of my kids have had the teen acne issues. Why? Because it’s been directly related to dairy and too much sugar. People think zits are normal but they are not.
    So, at this point, I just take them at their word. They must be going through something to give up those food groups cause it is so hard!

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    Esther Gingerich Reply:

    I agree! My husband is GF since last summer. It can be a challenge but he has become (almost) a new man since going GF. It’s been so worth it!

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  20. Katie

    03/29/2017

    I am gluten free and I make your hash brown crusted quiche a lot. Very good!

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  21. Michelle Bonk

    03/29/2017

    I think it’s wonderful that you go to so much effort. As a home with two distinct anaphylactic allergies (dairy and nuts) we almost never ask for (or accept!) food gifts unless it is from very (very) close friends and family. (did you know most margarines actually DO have dairy in them?! we can only use vegan margarine … imagine!)

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    Brooke Reply:

    Michelle, I was about to write the same exact thing about the margarine! Cool Whip is another one. My friends child had a milk allergy so severe that even touching it will cause him to break out in hives. She got a special dairy free cake from a bakery for his first birthday – which the baker made with cool whip frosting. Big opps! Kid was ok, but an ER visit was not how they intended his first birthday party going.

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    Anna Marie Peterson Reply:

    sometimes even the same food (Smart Balance) has varieties that have dairy or don’t. And then they change the ingredients! I have to double check the container often. It use to be that the store brand Cool Whip was safe, but no more. Marshmallow cream might work!

    We went to Outback with a gift certificate and my husband was explaining about problems with the grill .The waiter assured us that they have a special section of the grill that is cheese free. The folks at Panera even notified the chefs to change their gloves! when they made his salad. This kind of service is rare, but getting to be more common as people become aware. Of course after we go thru the whole substitution thing they will invariably bring him coffee with a bowl of creamers!

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    Andrea Reply:

    That’s so crazy — I would have assumed it was dairy free. My dairy-free neighbor was actually the one who told me to use margarine instead of butter for the meal I prepared for her. Weird!

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    Brooke Reply:

    It really depends if they have an allergy to the milk protein or are lactose intolerant. Those are very different things. Lactose intolerant can eat things that contain whey (such as many margarines and cool whip), but folks who are allergic to the protein can not. We keep a kosher home, and as such keep milk and meat separate. A lot of food has a hetcher, or a marking on the package that indicates that if the food contains only kosher ingredients that will also indicate if any dairy is contained in the item. I’ve had fun teaching my very much non-Jewish friends about how to use these marking to their advantage when looking for dairy-free items 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — thanks Brooke!

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    Mary Ann Reply:

    Yes! I was going to say the same thing. Always read the labels on margarine, Cool Whip, etc. One of our nephews has a dairy allergy(as well as nuts, shellfish, sesame…) and I learned that not all margarines are dairy-free.

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