Inspired by Allergies

lime-parfaitDo you ever feel like you are practically the only one facing some real challenges that don’t seem to affect many others? When I think of difficult limits from our environment, the line

it was bye-bye for Shanghai – I’m even allergic to rice

from Doris Day’s old song comes to mind. Whether you suffer from allergies or not, there are lessons to be learned about finding creative solutions within limits from JD Simone as she discusses her new book: Allergy Safe Cuisine; Cooking Without the Top 8 Food Allergens, Plus Corn, Gluten and MSG

Like exit polls before memories fade, a great time to see the inside of the creative process is to ask people immediately after they complete a work. While often creativity is thought to be inspired by infinite possibilities, Simone’s inventiveness came through experimenting within strict limits.

What inspired you to write this book?
I have several family members with severe food allergies. The summer before last was a perfect storm of eating disasters and that experience spurred me on to write this cookbook. The whole family went away on vacation together and, no matter what we made for food, there was always somebody who couldn’t eat it. Compound that with the fact that there were so many people in one kitchen that keeping “safe” food for one person separated from the “safe” food for the other was nearly impossible, especially with a houseful of kids running around. The final straw was when we had a birthday party and one of my granddaughters could not eat the birthday cake. Can you imagine being a child, and having never eaten a single slice of birthday cake? Normally she takes it well, but her tears that time did me in. I decided that from now on, any food I make would be safe for everyone to enjoy.

What is your favorite recipe? Lime Parfait. This was one of my own inventions. It tastes surprisingly like custard, is very easy to make, and is very decorative. Great to serve for company!

How did you come up with the recipes you used?
I adapted some recipes, and invented others. Since life is complicated enough with multiple food allergies, I decided that every single one of my recipes would be free of the 8 major food allergens, plus corn, gluten and MSG. For people with multiple food allergies, flavorful, mixed dishes and seasonings are usually off limits. That was why I spent a lot of time on spice mixes, dressings, gravies and sauces. My mock Worcestershire sauce took months of experimenting to come up with, but it was well worth the effort. I also included a wide variety of meals and deserts, from the most basic of dishes to a small handful of more complicated ones for adventurous cooks.

I’ve always been involved in something creative. Right now I’m illustrating “Mommy’s First Picture Book: What Nobody Told You About Parenting,” which should be done by mid-summer.

Have you ever found yourself with some real limits and a need to find solutions for yourself or your family? Like the situation that spurred the idea for this cookbook. Please pass this on to anyone you know with food allergies!

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Comments

  1. JD Simone says:

    Thank you so much for the support!

  2. Eating becomes a challenge when you have multiple food allergies and have to make everything from scratch; it feels like there are no real easy recipes! On the plus side it means learning how to make new healthy recipes!

    • Yes, certain limitations can give us reason to focus on areas others don’t have reason to notice – and provide novel solutions that all can benefit from – Simone’s book provides these. Thanks for commenting Rhonda!

  3. Eating becomes a challenge when you have multiple food allergies and have to make everything from scratch; it feels like there are no real easy recipes! On the plus side it means learning how to make new healthy recipes!

  4. First birthday cake with food allergies? Need help baking wheat-free desserts? Looking for a great milk-free and egg-free cake? Want to share cake decorating tips or allergy-safe party themes? Share ideas, tips and recipes to celebrate birthdays and other special events with allergy safe cakes and desserts. Come think “Outside the Bakery Box” and join the allergy safe celebration!

  5. This question is for parents of kids with multiple food allergies. My daughter will be turning seven and is on a very restricted diet because she is allergic to so many things. Each year it is very hard to figure out what to do about feeding guests at her birthday party. If I had them eat her food, no one would eat it. One year we did it in the middle of the afternoon, so there was no meal involved, and had just cake and juice. The next year we had it at the park, and I told her since there was no entertainment we would have to have lots of food, and some of it would have to be food she couldn`t have (no nuts, of course). She was okay with that. Last year she wanted to have it at a place where some of her friends have had parties. The place served pizza and I had to bring hers. She is allergic to milk and I knew a no-cheese pizza wouldn`t fly with the other kids. This year she wants it to be a tea party. The place is planning to serve little finger sandwiches. I would have to bring hers. I was starting to feel not quite right about this, and then she brought it up on her own. She didn`t want to have different food from the other kids. I offered to make sandwiches for all the kids, but she said she didn`t think the other kids would like our special mayonaise, special bread, etc. It is probably true; while I have gotten used to Veganaise, it doesn`t mean other people will like it, especially if they have never had it. My daughter would be crushed if the other kids commented on how bad the food was. So now we have gone back to the idea of me bringing her food, and having regular food for the rest of the kids and adults. So…I am wondering what the rest of you do, if your child is on a really restricted diet. Do you only serve cake? Or do you have the guests eat the milk free egg free, etc, food? Or do you give regular peanut free food to the guests and have your child eat different food?

  6. Billie, that is such a tough age because kids are trying to hard to be accepted by their friends, which unfortunately often means not being different. But it’s also a great age to take advantage of their natural curiosity and turn the experience into something positive. First off, let the parents of the other children you are inviting know about your daughter’s food allergies. This opens up the line of communications when their own children come home with questions, and I’ve always felt that the more they know, the safer the safer the’ll be. Ask if any of their children have allergies as well. You might be surprised. If there are any, you could enlist help with a special dish. Even if not, at least the information is getting out there, and that’s what you need to do to keep your daughter safe.

    What we’ve done in the past was served a small variety of allergy safe and regular foods, and then encouraged the children with no food allergies to try whatever they wanted, with a brief explanation maybe saying “This is (egg)(peanut)(milk)(etc…) free, this is what my daughter eats, you can try it if you’d like.” Don’t make a big deal out of it, and don’t comment on whether they do or they don’t. If they are exposed to food allergies and get used to dealing with them early, it will become normal just like anything else they do. You can’t change their food allergies, but you can change how the experience with their friends play out. If they see that it’s not a big deal to you guys, it won’t be a big deal to them either!