Over a decade later, we look back and wonder how we ever got through those toddler and childhood years! One huge blessing we never realized would happen is that our children learned at a very early age how to say "NO!" to grandmas and grandpas with inappropriate treats, to classmates and uninformed teachers with snacks designed to create a runny nose, a wheezy cough, or even a trip to the emergency room. How much easier is it for our children now to say "No" to the deadly traps of teenhood.

This cookbook is designed for parents and caregivers who are coping with food allergies in their youngsters. You have picked up this book and started reading because you suspect, or your doctor has just told you, that your child is allergic to certain foods. You have noticed dark circles under your child's eyes, even after a good night's sleep; a wheezy sound when your child is breathing normally; a chronic stuffy or itchy nose; too many ear infections to be considered normal; dry, sensitive skin; a chronic cough when your child does not have a cold. As with any medical problem, you are urged to see your pediatrician if you haven't already; these symptoms are indications of allergies and asthma. However, if you feel your questions are not being addressed completely, don't give up!  Continue talking to friends, reading health and nutrition literature, and looking for a doctor who will work with you and your child.

You, like us, want to be able to feed your child nutritious and healthy snacks which do not contain the foods he or she is allergic to. You want your child to be a normal part of the crowd, and to not feel singled out by what he or she eats.

Our children have been coping with allergies to cow's milk, wheat, corn, peanuts, almonds, white potatoes, chocolate, and egg albumin (egg white) for many years. We searched health food stores, libraries, and bookstores for alternative recipes for our children's main meals, snacks, and special occasions. Because so many of the allergy books and cookbooks we reviewed contained mostly main course recipes for adults with allergies, we wanted to create a cookbook of special desserts and snacks especially for children. It's heartbreaking to see your child at a birthday party unable to eat the cake because it was made with bleached, enriched flour made from wheat, eggs, and commercial baking powder. It's difficult for children to understand that when they go to another child's birthday party they can't have the ice cream because it was made with cow's milk, eggs, and corn syrup sweeteners. It's hard to explain that they can't eat the candy, cookies, or potato chips on grocery store shelves. We wanted to be able to provide as normal and healthy a diet as possible within their limitations.

We have created cake, pie, cookie and dessert recipes for you to use on special occasions or just for fun. With our children's diet limitations, fun can be hard to find in the kitchen, and we believe childhood should be fun, not just healthy!  We have also included a few breakfast ideas, modified for elimination diets.

In each recipe's list of ingredients, we have put the ingredient which works best first, e.g., 1½ cups oat flour or spelt flour or amaranth flour. This means we have achieved the tastiest results with oat flour, but have also been successful using the other flours. If there is only one ingredient listed in a line, this means we have not found (or do not need) any alternatives. Please feel free to substitute ingredients you find exciting to work with or that your child especially likes. Our recipes show our favorite way to achieve each result, but certainly not the only way!  Please be aware, however, that flour and grain substitutions don't always work out well; trial and error is the only way for you to determine how to make your own substitutions.

It can be difficult to buy healthful snacks while traveling. We found allowable snacks and ingredients not only at health food stores but also at local supermarkets, and we discuss those in chapter 13. Food allergies are often present with other allergies, asthma, and a wide variety of other health problems. We feel that the allergic reactions our children suffer from may be eased by eliminating many commercial chemical cleaners in our homes, by using products recommended by our doctors, and by using ecological pesticides and herbicides in our homes and gardens. While we are unaware of any medical studies to support this conclusion, we feel that the cleaner and safer the environment is, the easier it may be for children to cope with and outgrow their allergies, asthma, and other medical difficulties. Therefore, we have included some cleaning and pesticide tips, and addresses of organizations which can provide more detailed information than we are able to include here; you may find other resources in ecology handbooks and your local newspaper.
If you are interested in trying to keep your home and garden as chemical-free as possible, we have also included sources for further information, and suppliers for gardening and cleaning products.

We include a list of cookbooks that we found to be useful as starting points in our search for allergen-free recipes.

We realize that alternative ingredients may be difficult to find in some areas, so we have included websites for mail-order products. We have tried to verify that the manufacturers listed in the resources chapter can provide mail-order ingredients to individual consumers at a reasonable cost, and if they are organic that they can provide sufficient proof of their certification to the consumer. You may already have sources for special ingredients: if they are different from the ones listed here we would love to hear about them! Support organizations are also included if you would like to seek further information about your child's specific allergy, want to investigate further the possibility of creating a cleaner environment, or just want someone to talk with.

The inclusion of brand-name products, organizations, and manufacturers is not an endorsement of them by us, but rather a guide for you to use in searching out healthy alternative products.

This cookbook is not intended to take the place of medical diagnosis or a nutritionist's services. It is intended only as a guide and resource for alternative ingredients and recipes. The publishers, authors, and contributors take no responsibility for this book's use as a substitute for qualified medical and nutritional diagnoses or for a consumer's unhappiness with a particular product.

We have accepted no remuneration in any form from any of the resources, manufacturers and companies mentioned herein.

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© Mary Harris and Wilma Nachsin.