As many as six percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 have food allergies, and experts say the number of those suffering seems to be on the rise.
Some of the most common allergens include many of the most frequently used ingredients in their favorite dishes. With the discerning palates so many youngsters have, food-preparation can become a little bit tricky, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Here are some easy, tasty alternatives for the food-allergic kid in your life:
The culprit: Milk.
The usual suspects: Mac and cheese, hot dogs.
The solution: Instead of dairy milk, substitute soy or rice milk in a cheese sauce recipe. To avoid the milk solids often contained in hot dogs, go kosher. Not all kosher dogs are without milk, but many companies offer dairy-free varieties. As with any allergen sensitivities, just make sure to read the packaging.
The culprit: Peanuts.
The usual suspect: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The solution: How do you make a PB and J without the PB? Easy – use sunflower seed butter. With four times the vitamin E, and about twice as much iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, this tasty substitute has the added benefit of packing more of a nutritional punch than its peanut-based cousin.
The culprit: Eggs.
The usual suspects: Pizza dough, other baked treats.
The solution: Eggs serve two key functions in baking recipes – as a leavening agent and as a binder. When a leavening agent is needed, such as for pizza dough, mix one and one-half tablespoons each of vegetable oil and water with 1 teaspoon baking powder per egg called for in the recipe. For a sweet recipe where a binder is necessary, try smashing together half of a banana and one-half cup of applesauce. If leavening is required, too, just throw in a dash of baking powder.
The culprit: Wheat
The usual suspects: Cereal, breads.
The solution: Wheat is an ingredient in countless dishes and meals. Fortunately, there are plenty of cereal grains that can serve as more-than-worthy substitutes. When it comes to cold cereal, many food makers offer rice- or corn-based variations of this breakfast favorite. Another popular and healthy option is granola cereal. For the wheat-allergic grilled-cheese lover, simply use bread made from any one of the following: tapioca, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa or soy.