Hi everybody! I’m glad to be part of the team. I’m Meg. Five children with food allergies call me “Mom,” and my husband and I have allergies as well. In addition to “regular” allergies, our family has three “patients” with Eosinophilic Esophagitis–EoE for short. We call Celia and Damien, “The Twobeys,” because their main nutrition comes from amino-acid based medical formula received through g-tubes. Celia’s only safe foods are pork and strawberries, while Damien can only eat pork, apples, and potatoes. My husband is the third with EoE, and he has Celiac Disease. Some folks hit the lottery; we hit the atopy jackpot! Between all of us, we avoid all of the top eight allergens (dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish) plus gluten and oats. Many people will say, “There’s nothing left to eat!” but trust me, there is PLENTY of yummy food. I hope to share some of our favorites with you!
We’ve been doing this allergy-safe eating thing for a long time (almost 8 years!), so we have tried a lot of recipes and many “alternative” products. Some of the recipes I’ll share in the future will use some of these products. However, many children diagnosed with food allergies learn about them the hard way when they eat something that triggers a reaction and they wind up in the emergency room. Or, after lots of detective work and testing, the child is finally diagnosed and comes home with a whole grocery list of foods to avoid. There’s a feeling of relief on the parents’ part because somebody has finally figured out what is going on with their child. Then reality sets in, and you realize that in a few hours you need to feed your child dinner. It’s easy to find yourself starting to panic. There’s no time to go grocery shopping for “specialty” ingredients, and besides, even if you did, you have no idea what to do with them. Today’s two recipes will help you get dinner (and dessert!) on the table, using just what is in your pantry–no special ingredients required.
I’ve found that the easiest way to plan meals is to think protein/carb/produce: steak, baked potato, broccoli; pork chop, rice, applesauce; breakfast sausage, fried potatoes, fresh berries. Yes, there may eventually be some substituting to do (for example, learning to make gluten- or dairy- or egg-free pancakes to go with bacon and fruit salad), but for the first while, sorting meals into categories based on fresh, whole foods helps to make meal planning more easily managed. “One Pan Chicken Roast” is one of our favorite dinners. It fits the template (chicken, potatoes, carrots) and is inherently free of all top eight common allergens. Easy to prepare (even a young child can help with veggie-scrubbing duty, while a middle-school aged sibling can do cutting), quick to cook, and with almost no clean-up, it’s a great example of “Sometimes simple is best.”
Dessert is another simple recipe, but still a sweet treat. If you prefer, you can even use it as a side dish with chicken or pork. We love spiced peaches or apples alongside ham and pork chops.
One-Pan Chicken Roast
8 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 medium carrots (about 1 pound)
12 chicken drumsticks (about 4 pounds, skin on)
salt and pepper to taste
Note: Our family prefers chicken drumsticks. You can make this with any chicken parts except wings; cut chicken breasts in half to ensure even cooking.
Preheat oven to 475*F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
Rinse the potatoes and carrots under running water, rubbing to remove any dirt. You can peel these if you like, but a good scrubbing is sufficient if you prefer to leave the peels on.
Cut each potato in half, and then cut each half into quarters. Your potatoes should be in 1″ chunks. Place them in a bowl, and toss with the olive oil. Turn out onto the lined sheet, leaving behind any excess oil. Spread them into a single layer.
Chop the carrots into 3″ pieces. Halve or quarter carrots as necessary, so that each carrot “stick” is no thicker than your smallest finger. Place them in the bowl that the potatoes were in, and toss them with the oil remaining in the bowl. Turn them onto the sheet and spread them among the potatoes.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, placing thicker ends toward the outside. It might get a little crowded, but just keep the pieces from touching.
Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
Place the tray in the oven, and roast uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 175* for legs and thighs, 160* for chicken breasts.
Spiced Poached Fruit
Note: you can make this with any number of fruits. Peaches are one of our favorites, and canned peaches means we can enjoy them year round. It’s also really good with apples, blueberries, or cherries. (Pit those first!) If you want to increase the number of servings, just increase the fruit, not the syrup ingredients.
2- 15 oz cans sliced fruit, canned in juice, drained OR 3 c. fresh fruit
1/4 c. canning liquid or fruit juice
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Drain the canned fruit, and reserve the liquid for the next step. If you are using apples, pears, fresh peaches/plums, etc., peel/cut the fruit into 1/2″ thick strips. Pit cherries. For berries, rinse and blot dry in a single layer on paper towels.
Add juice, sugar, vanilla, and spices to a medium saucepan. Combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium low heat, stirring frequently.
Add fruit to the syrup. Poach the fruit in the syrup, stirring occasionally. Canned fruit only needs to be warmed through; cook fresh fruit until it is softened.
Alternative serving suggestions: If you have a safe vanilla cake, the fruit and syrup are also delicious as a topping. My oldest son likes when I make this recipe as a side dish; he then hoards the leftover syrup to pour over ice cream.