NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Cooking with Food Allergies

Cooking with Food Allergies


The idea of cooking for someone with a food allergy can be incredibly daunting.  The list of what ingredients to NOT include seems endless; but learning to cook for a food allergy can be easier than you'd think. 

The "big eight" allergies --- dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish --- are fairly simple to find recipes for.  You can also find recipes free of dairy, eggs, fish, and shellfish by looking in any good vegan cookbook or website.

Finding recipes for multiple food allergies or for other food allergies is more difficult. One of the best online resources is the website Cooking Allergy Free, which allows you to create a custom profile indicating all of your allergies and filtering community-offered recipes to return only the ones that are safe for you as written.

As useful as recipes written for allergies are, we often want to adapt favorite family recipes, or a new recipe featured in your favorite magazine.  There are ingredients on the market that are specifically marketed as safe substitutes for the most common allergens and which yield great results!

Beyond basic principles of food safety, anyone with a food allergy --- or anyone who cooks for someone with a food allergy --- needs to be aware of the principle of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when unsafe, allergenic foods touch otherwise safe foods.  This can occur directly, but it can also occur when foods share a utensil, storage receptacle, cutting board, pan, or serving dish, without the utensil or cooking implement being washed thoroughly between uses.

To avoid cross-contamination at home, make sure that allergens are kept away from safe foods and, whenever possible, are cooked using different pans and utensils.

Wheat is one of the most common food allergies in the United States, and is therefore covered under the food allergen labeling law (FALCPA). Manufacturers must place an allergy warning on foods that contain wheat on ingredient labels in plain English.

In addition to reading the ingredient list on a food item, it’s also important to read the entire package. Some items will hold a disclaimer “may contain traces of wheat” or “made in the same facility as wheat containing foods.” In these cases, the company is giving the choice to the consumer whether or not to consume the food. While it doesn’t necessarily mean the item contains wheat, there’s a chance that it may. Therefore, if you are highly sensitive to wheat, you may want to avoid those products in addition to items which have the following wheat containing ingredients on their labels.


Other common names for wheat-


•Bulgur (bulghar)

•Durum, durum flour, durum wheat



•Enriched, white and whole-wheat flour


•Flour (all-purpose, cake, enriched, graham, high protein or high gluten, pastry)



•Graham flour





•Sprouted wheat

•Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)

•Triticum aestivum

•Wheat (bran, germ, gluten, grass, malt, starch)

•Wheat berries


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