My first experience with food allergies was when my oldest son was 15 months old. After eating scrambled eggs, he began rubbing his eyes and breaking out in hives on his face. My first impulse was to bathe him (thinking he had rubbed food into his eyes). When I realized the rash was spreading quickly, I called his pediatrician who advised: "Give him Benadryl and go to the nearest ER if he shows any signs of difficulty breathing." DIFFICULTY BREATHING?!
Over the next few months, his food-allergy list grew to include tree nuts, peanuts, melon, pineapple, and kiwi. Thankfully, my oldest son outgrew most of his food allergies by the age of three. Little did I know that a few years later with the birth of his twin brothers, our prior experience with food allergies made this look like a stroll in the park.
Yup, identical twins with identical, multiple, severe food allergies. They were miserable from the get go even when they were exclusively breastfed (reacting to the allergens in my diet – unbeknownst to me). Their "no list" included eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, and all grains – wheat, oats, spelts, etc. Reactions were frequent, even when the ingredients weren't problematic. Cross-contamination and even skin contact would elicit reactions. Thank God the ER was close by. At first, finding a "yes list" for them was overwhelming.
Overwhelming, but not impossible. I did manage to find things that were not only edible but enjoyable. They were my inspiration for my Rosh Hashana cookbook, A Taste of Sweetness. All of the recipes are dairy and nut-free. Most are also egg-free, fish-free and gluten-free. Through the crucible of allergic emergencies, I have found that living with allergies – while challenging – can be very sweet.
Egg-less Round Challah
- 5 Tbsp dry active yeast (like Fleishman's – not rapid rise)
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 1/2 cups very warm water
- (mix all ingredients till foamy)
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1 T of salt
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 5 lbs bread flour (in the U.S., I prefer Gold Medal Better for Bread in orange bag)
Place sugar, yeast and hot water in a very large bowl. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add oil, vanilla, salt and a few cups of flour. Stir until consistent. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes very stiff and then knead by hand. Gradually add all of the flour.
Knead in a large bowl till dough is consistent and smooth and not too sticky.
Shape and place in round pans. Don't brush with egg wash if you're preparing an egg-free challah.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
Yield: about 5 round challahs
During the High Holidays, many people avoid nuts because the gematria (numeric value of Hebrew word) of “nut” and “sin” are the same.
Beyond this, Rosh Hashanah is the perfect holiday for the food-sensitive/allergic, because all the Rosh Hashanah symbolic foods (simanim) – with the exception of fish – are allergy-friendly. Pomegranate, dates, apples, squash, beets, leeks, carrots and cabbage are safely tolerated by most food allergy sufferers. Have you ever tried Pomegranate Mousse Pie, Pumpkin Muffins, or Mushroom Leek Souffle? Allergy-friendly recipes can be (should be!) delicious, exciting and festive. Even if you’re avoiding several food groups, don’t fall into the rut of boring meals.
Carrot, Apple and Raisin Salad
This recipe incorporates two symbolic foods (simanim) -carrots and apples.
- 8 carrots, grated
- 4 granny smith apples, chopped
- 2 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 4 Tbsp honey
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
Combine dressing ingredients. Toss with salad ingredients. Enjoy!
Yields: 8 servings
Honey Mustard Turkey Pastry
This recipe incorporates honey, a traditional Rosh Hashanah condiment.
- 2 packages Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (like Pepperidge Farms)
- 2 packages oven-prepared turkey deli slices (or other type of deli meat)
- 4 T honey
- 2 T mustard
Thaw puff pastry sheets and open. Combine honey and mustard. Place deli meat in each puff pastry sheet and spread honey mustard mixture over them. Close each pastry and tuck ends under to seal each . Bake at 450 for 25 minutes until puffed and flakey.
Egg-free Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 box of Duncan Hines classic yellow cake mix (spice and orange cake work, too)
- Oil and water (according to package directions)
- 1 small can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1/4 T nutmeg (optional)
- 1/2 T cinnamon (optional)
- Raw sugar crystals
Preheat oven to 350.
Follow directions on box, leaving out the eggs.
Spray mini-muffin tins with baking spray.
Fill mini-muffin tins almost until the top (mixture won’t rise that much with eggs omitted).
Sprinkle with cinnamon and raw sugar crystals.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Mini-muffins bake quickly, so keep an eye on them!
Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the New Year and the start of a beautiful string of fall celebrations. May preparing allergy-friendly holiday meals help us enjoy a happy and healthy Shana Tova U’metuka – a sweet new year.