The joyous holiday of Purim can be nerve-wracking for the food allergic. Distributing and receiving festive food packages “mishloach manos”, banquet tables laden with allergens, and Hamentashen loaded with wheat and eggs can turn into allergic nightmares. A little planning and preparation can make an allergy free Purim fun filled! Think of the potential allergy landmines and navigate around them.
Mishloach Manos are wonderful gestures of kindness. Be kind to your neighbor and distribute edible gifts that are suitable for the recipient. Don’t give your peanut allergic friend peanut butter cookies. When receiving Mishloach Manos, go over everything with a fine tooth comb. Read labels on everything for allergens and “may contain” statements. If you encounter a baked or cooked item assume that you’re allergic to it (unless you’ve spoken to the preparer about the ingredients and the preparation process).
Preparation is key with the Purim meal as well. If you’re dining away go over the menu with your host. Offer to split the cooking and offer suggestions for allergy substitutions. Be sure to mention hidden sources of allergens that the preparer may not be aware of. Alternatively, bring your own food along. If one’s list of allergens is very long it may not be realistic (or safe) for someone else to prepare the meal.
If you have children with allergies, be extra vigilant Purim time. Kids like to exchange food gifts and a well-meaning child (or adult) can mistakenly offer your child a life threatening “treat.” Mysterious chocolate covered treats should be avoided. Are they chocolate covered raisins, peanuts, almonds, cherries, or mints? If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat it.
Speaking of Purim goodies, the quintessential Purim nosh "Hamentashen" is typically made with eggs and wheat. The fillings can be problematic as well. Occasionally people get exotic and fill the pastries with pecan pie filling, nutella, or even an egg-based filling like mon (poppyseed). The good news is that there are several brands of gluten free Hamentashen on the market. Recipes made with allergen substitutes can be just as the delicious as the traditional ones (try the eggless Hamentashen recipe below).
Children and adults with food allergies should carry their medicines at all times. Check expiration dates on injectable epinephrine as well as inhalers and antihistamines before Purim.
Eggless Hamentashen Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (a little less)
- 2t baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 sticks margarine
- 1c sugar
- 1/2 c mango nectar
- favorite pie filling (apple, cherry, raspberry, etc...)
- jam or preserves (strawberry, apricot etc..)
- chocolate chips
- poppy seed filling (“mon”) eggless type
Preheat oven to 375°F.Whip margarine, sugar, and nectar. Add dry ingredients and combine to form a soft dough. Chill the dough (should feel like fresh play dough consistency) for at least 1 hr. Form thin circles of cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet (use the bottom of a cup or a round cookie cutter).
Place less than a tsp. of desired filling in the middle of each circle and fold edges over to form a triangle. Pinch corners tightly so that triangle doesn't open up in the oven. *Thin dough out and be sparing with the filling for best results. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.
yield: 2 dozen Hamentashen
Brownie "Cheesecake" Hamentashen Recipe
Do brownie cheesecake Hamentashen sound like forbidden allergic fare? Relax, these cookies are dairy free and egg free. You can enjoy this non-traditional twist on a Purim classic!
- 1 box *Duncan Hines brownie mix (chewy fudge-pareve)
- 6T all purpose flour
- 1 stick of non-dairy margarine
- 1/4 cup water
- 1t vanilla extract
*nut allergic – DH brownie mix may contain traces of nuts/peanuts
- 1/3 cup tofutti cream cheese
- 6T sugar
- 1t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl cream margarine, water, and vanilla extract. Stir in brownie mix and flour till the mixture is a soft play dough consistency. Form dough into thin patties and place on a greased baking sheet. Be sure to leave room for spreading. In a separate small bowl combine tofutti cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Place a teaspoon of "cheesecake" filling in the center of each patty and fold sides to form 3 corners. Pinch the corners for extra security. Do not overstuff the pastries. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. If Hamentashen lose triangular shape gently reshape them with a spatula or the side of a fork. Cool Hamentashen completely before removing from pan.
Wishing you a happy and allergy free Purim!
For more tips , resources, and recipes for navigating Purim (and beyond) with food allergies visit www.kosherfoodallergies.blogspot.com