This post is sponsored by Pfizer Canada. All views and opinions are my own.
With summer just around the corner – as long as Mother Nature cooperates, fingers crossed! – I’m so looking forward to everything the season promises. Long days followed by lazy nights, ice cold drinks and hot dogs off the grill, and of course, the steady stream of traffic from neighbourhood children popping in to play.
Hands up if you run a restaurant from your kitchen – primary demographic, discerning 6-12 year olds? Yeah, me too.
The truth is, I’m a happy host. Our door is always open and our fridge is always full, so why not share the goodness? However, having an “everyone’s welcome” policy means that I have to take special care to ensure that my kitchen is allergy-friendly. Did you know that an estimated 2.6 million Canadians are impacted by food allergy, with almost 500,000 of them being children? Quite a few of our neighbourhood pals are affected (peanuts, tree nuts and shrimp are the most common) so I have to be extra careful when both preparing and serving snacks.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Allergy-Friendly Kitchen event held in partnership with Food Allergy Canada and Pfizer Canada.
There, I watched expert home cook and allergy awareness advocate Thea Vanherwaarden, and NASCAR driver Alex Tagliani, unveil three allergy-friendly recipes through an interactive cooking demonstration. As they both have food allergies, they also led a valuable discussion on tips and key information for allergy management and preparedness. Today, I’m happy to share my three major takeaways with you!
1. Read Food Labels. Remember, manufacturers can change their production process and alter their products at any time, so it’s important to read food labels each and every time you purchase a product. Do the triple check: once at the store before buying it, once when you get home and put it away and most importantly, before you serve or eat the product.
2. Check Your Prep. It’s not too complicated to dole out allergen-free prepared snacks, but you need to bring your A-game if you’re cooking meals for an allergic individual. Prepare foods that are free of the person’s allergens first, using separate cookware and serving utensils. Keep the food covered in a space where it will not be splashed or come into contact with other foods. Wash hands often, especially between preparing meals that contain an allergen, and use a separate sponge to wipe down surfaces.
It’s also a good idea to have two dishwashing cloths: one for cleaning pots and pans that contain the allergen, one for cleaning pots and pans that are used for allergy-safe meals. The same goes for cutting boards, of course.
3. Carry an Epinephrine Auto-Injector. Even with all my kitchen precautions, life doesn’t always go as planned. I’m not too shy to insist that guests with food allergy come prepared by carrying an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times, and have found that it’s a necessary conversation between parents – especially during the summer season when kids can turn up at any time.
Disclosure: Epinephrine auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s get on to more delicious things – like the recipe for a refreshing acai bowl!
1/2 cup (125 mL) Frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) Frozen strawberries
1 Banana (½ for bowl, ½ sliced thinly for topping)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Pumpkin seeds, divided
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Chia seeds, divided
1/4 cup (60 mL) Gluten-free oat flakes
3/4 cup (175 mL) Fortified rice beverage
3 – 4 Fresh blackberries (cut in half)
2 Fresh strawberries (sliced thinly)
1/4 cup (60 mL) Fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Cocoa nibs
In a blender, add frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, 1/2 banana, sunflower seed butter, 1/2 of the pumpkin and chia seeds, oat flakes and rice beverage. Blend until smooth and thick. Pour in desired bowls and top with fresh blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cocoa nibs, remaining banana (sliced) and seeds.
Mmm… allergy-free and the perfect way to start the day, or a powerful afternoon snack for energetic kids! For recipes (including sushi and chicken tacos pictured above), visit Food Allergy Canada/SummerofTAG.