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Food Allergy

Accidental Chef: Allergist Mom Learns to Love Cooking

When Gino was going to help shake the parsley into our version of Gramma’s dressing, I asked him to wait until I could take off the lid for him. Instead, he unscrewed the whole top and poured the entire jar of parsley in the bowl.

My first instinct was yell at him for not listening. That hurt his feelings, so I quickly changed my tone and started laughing. The tears sucked back up into his eyes and he laughed, too. We scooped out all the extra parsley that we could. A few hours later, we took the dressing out of the oven and tasted it. I let him take the first bite.

His eyes lit up: “Mom, I think the extra parsley was the secret ingredient. It’s amazing.” And it was.

It was my Gramma’s dressing and I knew when I served it on Thanksgiving day, I would be serving up a memory, a Top 8 allergen-free-plus-some, safe for everyone in my family, memory.

There is a deep pleasure in watching your husband, your children, your parents, your sister, your brother-in-law, your mother and father-in-law, and your grandmother enjoy a safe meal together, at one table, with no stress about cross-contamination. That, for me, was the ultimate joy I have had as a mother.

***

SERVING up a good and healthy variety of food that does not contain your family’s allergens can bring you and your children great pleasure. Yet it can still be tough to feel confident enough to share this food with extended family or friends. The hardest thing has been the comments that I often get in response to the food I make. You know what I mean, right? Do these sound familiar:

“It’s actually not that bad.”
“It’s surprisingly good.”
“How did you make this without butter?”
“I am surprised that you could make this with, like, no food.”

The guests are usually holding their plates out for seconds as they utter these words, so I think they are meant as a compliment; they just don’t feel like one.

When I first started hosting parties and holidays, I would walk around with my head down, embarrassed. But I’ve since retrained my brain to happily accept these backhanded compliments. “Yeah, it isn’t that bad, is it?” I’ll say. “Oh you want seconds? Sure!”

To this day, I’m surprised to hear my kids tell their friends about my kale spaghetti or to have guests swoon over Sarah’s wheat-free, cheese-free lasagna or Top 8 allergen-free chocolate cupcakes with homemade vanilla frosting.

The truth is I didn’t expect to have a love affair with my kitchen. I didn’t expect to ever use all of the kitchen accessories we got for our wedding. I didn’t expect to have to cook every meal for my children. I didn’t expect to pass up working in an allergy clinic in order to cook for my children who have food allergies. But life brings you to places you often least expect.

Life picked me up and dropped me hard into the center of the world I wanted nothing to do with: the kitchen. But when my kids and my family enjoy a meal I made, today I feel honored and overjoyed. I never would have that experience bringing home pizza or whipping up macaroni and cheese from a box every other night.

What a wonderful feeling to provide good, nutritious, safe food for my family. So, as much I may have been the most unlikely home chef, I can tell you that I have in fact mastered the stir, chop, sauté, mix, blend and puree. I’m moving on to braising, blanching and brining, and I’ll tell you what, friends, have I got the cutest apron.

See also: Allergist Mom: What My Food-Allergic Kids Taught Me
Visit Sarah Boudreau-Romano’s site: TheAllergistMom.com

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