Dairy-Free Switzerland

http://dairyfreeswitzerland.wordpress.com/

Dairy-Free Switzerland describes our adventures raising a food-allergic child in the land of chocolate and cheese. I share resources, recipes and more for individuals and families living with multiple food allergies.

Heddi is a winner of Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012

What's your best advice for a mom struggling with cooking for children with food allergies?

I’m a stay-at-home mom in Switzerland now, but I remember what it was like having 10 minutes to put dinner on the table after getting home from work. If you don’t have the time, energy or interest in preparing meals for your family, I recommend quick recipes with few ingredients. You can easily make delicious allergy-friendly foods like roasted root vegetables with olive oil, oven-baked chicken in barbecue sauce or fried rice with whatever meat and veggies you have in the fridge. And, you can’t go wrong with fresh produce that needs little embellishing. Keep it simple.
You’ve probably heard this before, but try to stay positive and focus on all the good food out there your child can safely eat. Consider this a time to be creative. Have fun exploring new ways of cooking and new ingredients. It’s certainly been a struggle giving up milk, eggs, nuts and sesame, but we’ve found so many wonderful recipes, and our search continues.

What's your favorite allergy friendly product?

Other than calcium-fortified soy or rice milk and any vegetable-based margarine, my absolute favorite allergy-friendly product at the moment is King Arthur Flour’s Whole Flax Meal. Mix one tablespoon with three tablespoons water, let it set for about 5 minutes and voilà! It’s an easy and healthy egg substitute. I use it in all my baking recipes that call for eggs and even use it for things like meatballs. High in fiber, flax meal only has one ingredient. Plus, I like supporting an employee-owned company in Vermont.

What's the biggest challenge raising a child with food allergies?

The biggest challenge we face is living with the constant fear that our child could have a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Food allergies are scary, and it sometimes feels that they’re always at the forefront of everything we talk about and do as a family. I try to achieve the right balance in managing my son’s multiple food allergies. For us, this means staying alert and aware of his allergies, but not letting them completely overwhelm us.
To accomplish this, I spend a lot more time thinking about our daily snacks and meals and preparing for when we eat at a restaurant or someone else’s home. I want my son to have access to delicious, nutritious food and enjoy amazing experiences like his older brother—it just takes a little more effort. In Switzerland, we’re now spending even more time navigating the world of food allergies in a different language and a new culture, but it’s not impossible. It’s all worth it to keep our son safe and to enjoy this new adventure.