Passover presents pretty significant challenges for people with nut and egg allergies: Almond-flavored egg white macaroons; egg-laden matzoh balls; hazelnut-filled chocolates; and walnut-laced charoset. It seems like nuts and eggs are in every Passover product and recipe. It’s enough to drive a person with allergies or with kids who have allergies, well, nuts. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and empty-handed, wondering, Is there anything I can make??
The answer is, of course, yes. Here are a number of tips and recipes to calm your nerves and guide you (almost) effortlessly through the Pesach-cooking process.
1) Relax. Though dealing with allergies can feel especially daunting at this time of year—as if there’s nothing else to stress about—we’re never given more than we can handle. So take a deep breath and say, “I can do this.”
I’m not just spouting platitudes; I speak from experience. Mothering multiples with food allergies (including nuts and eggs) has certainly been challenging, but it has also been inspiring. Rising to the challenge is empowering. Keep your eyes and mind on that light of the end of the tunnel: making a beautiful and safe chag (holiday) for yourself and your family.
2) Get creative. My approach to cooking with food allergies is two-fold: 1) What do I need to stay away from? and 2) What can I substitute for it? If I can’t find a reasonable substitute, I make another recipe that doesn’t call for the allergenic ingredient at all. You can make an eggless potato kugel or you can serve mashed potatoes with sautéed onions and mushrooms. Not every side dish must include eggs (surprise!).
3) Plan ahead. Plan your Pesach from the first Seder (the ceremonial Passover dinner) night to the last day. Keep your kitchen stocked with acceptable foods and freeze the more complicated dishes in advance. Have nut-free charoses (sweet, dark-colored, paste eaten at the Seder) available for the Sedarim, skip the hard-boiled eggs, and go over the menu carefully for sources of nuts and eggs (such as sides and desserts). Instead of a decadent egg- and nut-based cake, serve sorbet and fresh seasonal fruit: Your guests will be delighted to have a sweet, light finish to a heavy meal.
4) Stock up. While Passover is extra challenging with nut and egg allergies, it’s actually a reprieve for people with wheat, soy, and corn allergies. Those who need to avoid these ingredients have a tough time during the year because they are often disguised in many foods as fillers and syrups. Soda typically has corn syrup, but not the Kosher for Passover version. Margarine typically has corn and soy, but not on Passover. Stock up on the corn syrup- free ketchup and gluten- free blintzes while you can!
5) Finally, cook. All my recipes are free of: wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, fish, corn and soy. They’re simple and flavorful and made with readily available ingredients. The directions are easy to follow so you can get out of the kitchen and enjoy the holiday. The idea is to make things simpler, right?
May you be liberated from Pre-Passover Allergy Anxiety Syndrome: Let’s experience A Taste of Freedom this Pesach.
- 6 medium apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sweet red wine
- Optional: ¼ cup dates (pitted, checked, and chopped)
- Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Consistency should be a coarse puree.
- If making a traditional walnut version as well, be careful to label the 2 types clearly and to place them in different colored containers to avoid confusion.
- Quick and easy kid’s version: applesauce, grape juice, and cinnamon.
- 5 sweet potatoes (peeled)
- 1 can crushed pineapple
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- Touch of cinnamon
- Place sweet potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 45 minutes until potatoes are soft. Drain.
- Mash Potatoes. Add pineapple and brown sugar.
- Place in a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 350°F.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 cups potato starch
- 1/2 cup ground, unsweetened coconut
- 1/3 stick margarine
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (or vanilla extract)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cream margarine and sugar with beater. Add remaining ingredients and combine until smooth.
- Drop small balls of mixture onto a cookie sheet (lightly sprayed with baking spray). Cookies will spread, leave room between them.
- Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Use the edge of a spatula to separate cookies if they spread into each other. Gently reshape the cookies if necessary while still warm.
- Let cookies cool and harden before transferring to an airtight container.
Tamar Warga, MS-CCC, SLP is a licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist and a certifiably crazy mother of 10 (4 with food allergies). She is also the author of A Taste of Sweetness for Rosh Hashana Food Allergy E-Cookbook and A Taste of Freedom Passover Food Allergy Cookbook. Tamar blogs at Kosherfoodallergies.blogspot.com, ”where kosher Jews get allergy news.”