As you may have figured…my boys, two nephews and I have been enjoying some summer fun at ‘Nana’s'!
The boys love to ‘ham it up’ for the camera!
This past week, the family count has increasingly mulitplied with my sister-in-law arriving last Monday, and my husband, brother and Scottish relatives all arriving on Friday! Unfortunately, my American cousin’s family, had to cancel at the last minute due to expired passports! So sad!
My mother has ‘flown the coup’, so to speak, to stay at friends for the evenings. We are quite the houseful at 12!
Feeding this crew has it’s challenges…and then one adds in mulitple food allergies…how do I manage it all?
BY PLANNNING AHEAD!
1) Set out a meal plan.
2) Prep as much as possible ahead of time. (freezed marinated Lemon Chicken Breasts, cooked ribs and tossed with barbecue sauce, stocked up on essentials to limit number of visits to the grocery store and I will do all my baking early in the morning to free up time to be with the family during the day)
3) Keep the main meal food options as allergen free as possible (Barbecued Ribs, Barbequed Lemon Chicken Breasts, Rotisserie Chicken with Albert’s Original French Fries, Rice, Quinoa, Beans, Peas, Corn on the Cob, Summer Corn Salad, Bruschetta Pasta, Potato Packets, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Brownies, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Peach Crisp, Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Rice Krispie Squares, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Blueberry Pancakes, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins)
4) Plan for those meals which include any food allergens (Hamburgers and Steak) by eliminating all possible cross-contamination issues. (washing hands, preparing MIchael’s food first or reheating a previous allergen free meal, allow Michael to serve himself first to those parts of the meal that are allergen free).
Over the years, I have invested in leaving baking pans, a bread machine, baking utensils, silicone sheets etc. to make baking and cooking as ‘safe’ as possible at my mom’s house. I store all my ‘stuff’ in a box in the basement.
Yes, cooking and baking for this number of people while keeping everything allergen free can be stressful!
Yes, a few rules need to be set in order to keep Michael and Matthew safe…for example, wash hands after eating a dish that contains any one of the boys food allergies (dairy, beef, eggs, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries), maintain a safe shelf in the refrigerator that only contains Michael’s safe foods, and definitely no double dipping.
Yes, there have been some cross-contamination issues…like when my relatives double dipped in Michael’s vegan margarine…no problem…I just went out and bought another and wrote ‘Michael’s Do Not Use’ on the outside. Or when Michael felt a tingling on his tongue after eating one of his Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Rice Krispie Squares…I think one of the boys did not wash their hands well enough after eating one of their grilled cheese sandwiches…no problem…I now make their grilled cheese with the vegan margarine (dairy free) and the boys are to ask for either myself or Michael for one of Michael’s ‘treats’.
Yes, in the end, all the fuss, the preparations, and the extra effort to make everything allergen free is worth it!
Allergen free baking and allergen free cooking for a family gathering can be achieved and be loved by all…just ask anyone of my relatives!
How do you handle family gatherings with food allergies?