Allergy-Friendly Fare: Cooking for People with Food Allergies

Food allergies are on the rise, affecting approximately 32 million Americans. This number includes adults and children, and the prevalence of food allergies among children under the age of 18 has jumped from 3.4% in 1997 to 5.1% in 2011. When cooking for people with food allergies, the challenge lies in creating dishes that are not only safe but also delicious. Whether you are cooking for someone with a food allergy or have a food allergy yourself, here are some tips and recipes to make your cooking more allergy-friendly.

Common Food Allergies

Eight foods are responsible for almost 90% of all food allergies: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. It is important to know which food allergens a person is allergic to and avoid them when cooking. Additionally, it is essential to read food labels carefully to avoid cross-contact with food allergens.

Tips for Cooking for People with Food Allergies

  1. Kitchen Safety: Keep your kitchen clean and free of allergens by washing your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces before and after preparing allergy-free meals.

  2. Ingredient Substitutions: Learn how to substitute ingredients to make allergy-free meals. For example, applesauce can replace eggs, and coconut milk can replace dairy milk.

  3. Label Reading: Read food labels carefully, and look out for common allergens in the ingredients list.

  4. Communicate: Communication is key when cooking for people with food allergies. Ask them for their food allergy list and be sure to discuss any related concerns.

  5. Be Creative: Experiment with new ingredients and cooking methods to create interesting and delicious dishes for people with food allergies.

Recipe Ideas

Here are some allergy-friendly recipes that you can try out:

1. Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

This recipe uses gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs, making it a safe option for people with gluten allergies.


  • 1 pound gluten-free spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined and shape into meatballs.
  3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
  4. Remove the meatballs from the pan and set them aside.
  5. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the onion is soft.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, oregano, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer.
  7. Place the meatballs back into the pan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the spaghetti.

2. Dairy-Free Banana Bread

Enjoy a sweet treat with this dairy-free banana bread recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, combine the mashed bananas, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Enjoy the classic flavors of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this tasty smoothie recipe. This recipe is peanut-free and can be made nut-free by substituting peanut butter with sunflower seed butter.


  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter or peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free milk


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy.


Cooking for people with food allergies does not have to be a daunting task. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can create delicious meals that are safe for everyone to enjoy. Follow these tips and try out these allergy-friendly recipes to get started on your allergy-friendly cooking journey.

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