The Mom’s Guide to Allergy Accessible Foods
One in 13 American kids has a food allergy. Some of these allergies cause extreme discomfort in the form of stomachaches and rashes, while others cause severe anaphylactic reactions that can be life-threatening. The rate of food allergies has rapidly increased over the past two decades. Scientists are scrambling to find out why that is, but in the meantime, parents everywhere are left to handle the monumental duty of feeding their children safely.
Eating and sharing food is a significant part of our culture, and snacking on tasty treats is a fond part of childhood. If your children have food allergies, then you know how hard it is to find ways for them to enjoy both their everyday meals and food-centric special occasions like birthday parties and holidays. Thankfully, there are more ways than ever to make this possible thanks to increased research and education about allergies. Here are a few ideas for enjoying safe and delicious food, both at home and on the go.
Whether you have been managing your children’s allergies for a few days or a few years, you probably realize that the best way to control the ingredients that your family consumes is to make your own food at home. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, especially when kids are involved.
Many safe versions of commonly allergenic foods are unable to replicate the taste of the originals; a detail which children are bound to notice. Furthermore, many kids who are picky eaters can be coaxed by the addition of condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressings, but these are not safe options for kids with certain types of allergies. How are you supposed to make sure your kids are eating allergy-safe foods that are also nutritious, appetizing, and not too expensive?
Some companies have devoted a lot of resources to coming up with an answer to this question. Hampton Creek, a rapidly growing food technology company, has conducted extensive research on plants in order to find new ways to use plant proteins to replace ingredients that are common allergens. Their plant database is more than 100,000 plants strong.
Currently, Hampton Creek’s product line is chiefly composed of cookies and condiments, but they are also developing and distributing more diverse products such as baking mixes and noodles. All of their cookies are egg- and dairy-free and they also have peanut-free, tree nut-free, and soy-free varieties. Their condiments are good options for those who are unable to consume gluten, eggs, and dairy. They avoid cross-contamination during manufacturing by using stringent cleaning protocols. Thanks to Hampton Creek’s efforts, kids with allergies can enjoy top-notch cookies and slather tasty dressing all over their carrot sticks.
For many families, eating out together is a fun treat and a bonding experience. For families dealing with allergies, though, it can be discouraging. Many restaurants do not offer many, if any, allergy-safe meals. Even dishes that are naturally free of certain allergens might come into contact with unsafe ingredients because cooks and managers are not educated about the dangers of cross-contamination.
Fortunately, organizations such as Food Allergy Research and Education are involved in ongoing efforts to make dining out an option for people with food allergies. Through FARE, restaurant employees can undergo allergy safety training. This training is designed to help workers understand different types of food allergies, how severe they can be, and how to use safe food preparation practices. Restaurants whose employees have undergone this training can join the SafeFARE database.
Next time you want to eat out as a family, you can use this database to find restaurants that take allergy awareness seriously. When you get to the restaurant, be sure to let your host and servers know about your allergies. They will be able to communicate your needs to the kitchen, who will then prepare your meals carefully. Do not be afraid to ask questions about ingredients and preparation. Making the staff aware of your needs makes it easier for them to understand how to help you.
Safe and Scrumptious
There is no denying the fact that food allergies are difficult to manage. But thanks to increased attention from scientists, food manufacturers, and restaurants, the burden may be on its way to becoming less cumbersome. These groups are doing what they can to better understand allergies and provide solutions to people who have them. With the growing number of resources available, there are more ways than ever to enjoy both home-cooked meals and special evenings out.
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