In Allergy Alert: Tips for Event Planners, I highlighted the fact that it is increasingly important for event planners and caterers to take allergies and food sensitivities into account when designing menus; and identified the most common food sensitivities (i.e. eggs, lactose, peanuts). Canadian Celebrity Chef David Chrystian, a finalist on Top Chef Canada, urged event planners to design menus that all guests can enjoy by avoiding singling people out with special menus.
Fortunately, experienced chefs can adjust many recipes and create tasty versions of dishes without including ingredients that are known allergens.
Today, we'll explore menu items that your entire group can enjoy.
Foods with Common Allergens
Eggs: In addition to breakfast items, eggs are also used for hollandaise and Caesar salad dressings, mayonnaise, custard sauces and creme anglaise. Many are unaware of the fact that eggs are also frequently brushed on bread to provide glazing and used as a binding agent when preparing stock for consomme, clear soup and broth, ice cream and puddings. Ground flax seed and tofu can be used in some recipes.
Lactose: Lactose intolerance, in which the body is unable to digest lactose in milk and mild products due to the absence of an enzyme, is becoming more prevalent. Often, coconut milk or coconut cream can be used as a substitute.
Gluten: Gluten is a protein that can be found in wheat, barley and rye seeds. It can be found in bread, pasta and bagels. Fortunately, gluten-free flour is now available. Cornmeal and rice can sometimes be used as a substitute.
Peanuts: Peanuts are often used in ice cream, marzipan and egg rolls. Peanut protein can sometimes be found in dishes where one may not expect to find them including cupcakes and soda crackers. Finally, peanut oil is sometimes used in the manufacturing or preparation of many food and snack items. To substitute for peanuts, use sunflower seeds.
To spark your creativity and help you get started, here are just a few menu items that are egg, dairy, gluten and peanut free. Some of these dishes are also vegan.
- Gluten Free Coconut Chicken Salad
- Ground Lamb or Vegetarian Sliders (Buns made with Gluten-Free Flour)
- Lamb Kebabs
- Turkey Meatballs
- Bamboo Rice (Southeast Asia)
- Fish, meat or vegetables with Chermoula sauce
- Lamb and Couscous (Moroccan)
- Leg of Lamb
- Jerk Chicken (or Vegetables)
- Fish and Bammy (Jamaican)
- Run Down (Jamaican) - Mackerel in Coconut Milk
- Shepherd's pie with lamb (or a vegetarian version)
- Dairy Free Risotto
- Polenta (Italy) same as Turned Cornmeal (Caribbean)
- Plantain (Caribbean)
- Tabule (Middle Eastern)
- Boiled Green Bananas (Caribbean)
- Ackee & Salt Fish (Jamaica)
- Escovitch Fish (Jamaica)
- Cornmeal Biscuits
- Vols-au-vent in Gluten-Free Puff Pastry
- Dairy, Gluten and Egg-Free Chocolate Cake
- Dairy and Egg Free Ice Cream
- Cherries in rose wine & vanilla syrup
- Dairy-Free Raspberry Fool (Pictured)
- Dairy and Egg-Free Chocolate Mousse or Pudding
- Tapioca Pudding with Coconut Milk
- Chocolate Cappuccino Cake
- Lamington Cake (Australia)
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies
- Berries and Coconut Creme
- Dairy-Free Ices and Sorbets
- Plum Granita
Allergy-free menus can deliver flavor fabulous enough to please any palate. In fact, your guests won't even realize that the menu is allergy-free unless you choose to tell them.