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Adapting recipes at home or school

Preparing food from scratch at home can be an easier way to ensure no allergens are present in the food you’re eating, as you are in complete control of the ingredients. Playing around with different foods and testing out different recipes can also be a lot of fun with the added bonus of the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made something. However, many family favourites, particularly baked products, can contain ingredients that are an allergen for you or a family member.

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to miss out – it might take a bit more experimentation and the discovery of new foods but it’s still completely possible to tweak recipes to suit your needs. Below are just a few ideas to get you inspired – these can be used at home or in a school cooking lesson so everyone can get involved!

Grains

  • Replacement flour: gluten-free flours are available plus there are also naturally gluten-free options. These include almond flour (can be used where you would normally use breadcrumbs), quinoa flour and gram flour (made from a type of chickpea). Additions such as Vitamin C and Xantham gum may need to be added to give a similar type of rise and texture as that from wheat flour – both are natural ingredients and gluten-free.

 

  • Replacement fats: baking tends to require a lot of butter to provide the necessary fats and moisture needed for their texture and taste. If you can’t consume dairy try using oils instead: coconut, olive, and vegetable oils can all be used as replacements in your recipe.

For instance you could try: olive oil in mashed potato; coconut oil in flapjacks/granolas; vegetable oils in cakes (carrot cake is a good place to start as this usually contains vegetable oil anyway).

Fruit can also be used as a partial replacement e.g. mashed bananas or unsweetened apple sauce.

  • The above ideas can also be used to replace eggs in a recipe. Eggs are usually required to bind or to help a bake rise, or both. However, if a recipe contains a lot of eggs it may not be possible to use substitutions without getting quite a different result, so may be best to avoid attempting to adapt this food.

 

  • Substitutions can cause the finished product to have a different flavour or texture e.g. oil may be blander than using butter. Flavourings such as vanilla extract or sugars with a rich flavour such as dark brown sugar may be able to counteract this. Experiment with different additions to come up with something you enjoy.

It’s important that children develop cooking skills, both those with allergies and without. Experience in the kitchen will come from both home and school environments and it’s important that schools are prepared to adapt their lessons to make sure children with allergies are not excluded.

Boy BakingHaving a school workshop which teaches children about food allergies and intolerances will mean they will understand why certain children may have to use alternative ingredients during cooking lessons. Ensuring staff know how to prepare meals suitable for food allergies gives the opportunity to pass this knowledge onto children, as well as making sure there’s happy faces all round at lunch time. Food Freedom provides education for both children and school staff in a bespoke course so all children can enjoy learning about food and cooking.

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