Rosh Hashana is a great time of the year for amateur cooks and Jewish
mothers to show off their skills in the kitchen. While food allergies
are not always the number concern when preparing for a big holiday meal,
more and more people are factoring this when feeding their families.
Allergies are on the rise. As many as 15 million Americans have food
allergies according to FAAN-Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. That
number more than doubles if you include people with various food
sensitivities such as lactose intolerance, Celiac, other gluten
intolerances, as well as various gastrointestinal conditions like
Krohn’s disease. Food sensitivities are non-life threatening
hypersensitivities to food.
Symptoms of food sensitivities can
be caused by a deficiency or absence of enzymes needed to digest certain
types of food. The classic example is lactose intolerance. Lactose
intolerance is a result of the body not producing enough lactase used to
break down the lactose in milk. True food allergies, in comparison are
immediate hypersensitive immunologic responses to a food protein. The
“Big 8″ food sources of allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs,
soybean, fish, shellfish and wheat. Food allergies and sensitivities are
a reality that many have to live with. Nevertheless, being aware of the
challenges and developing a plan can make eating with food allergies
and sensitivities manageable while not sacrificing taste.
Hashana is the perfect time to start a delicious, healthy New Year. The
Gematria (numeric value) of Egoz (nut) is the same as Chet (sin). Many
avoid nuts in their Rosh Hashana menu. What a break for the
nut-allergic. Nuts can easily be omitted from recipes. Looking for
something crunchy to throw into a festive salad? How about roasted
edamame (soybeans)? For those that can tolerate wheat, there’s chow mein
noodles, croutons, and toasted ramen noodles. Dried cranberries are
another great salad toss-in. There’s even a pomegranate-flavored craisin
variety ideally suited for Rosh Hashana.
The Rosh Hashana
Simanim (symbolic Rosh Hashana omen foods) are all allergy-friendly as
well, with the exception of fish. Pomegranate, dates, apples, squash,
beets, leeks, carrots, and cabbage are safely tolerated by most food
allergy sufferers. The e-cookbook, A Taste of Sweetness incorporates
one or more of the simanim in each allergy-friendly recipe. Ever tried
Pomegranate Mousse Pie, Pumpkin Muffins, or Mushroom Leek Soufflé?
Allergy-friendly recipes can be delicious, exciting, and festive. Even
if you’re avoiding several food groups, don’t fall into a rut and accept
boring meals as your lot.
A traditional holiday meal can easily be made taking into account a number of different allergies.
is traditionally made with eggs. No worries, there are many delicious
eggless recipes out there. What if you’re wheat intolerant? Spelt flour
can be substituted for wheat flour.
If you typically serve a
fish course and are allergic, there are a variety of appetizers that
make delicious substitutes like hot or chilled soups and salads.
dishes typically are easier since they are meat- or chicken-based and
don’t generally pose a problem for the food allergic. Beware of
nut-encrusted and wheat-coated main dishes. Look out for potential
allergens in sauces as well. Side dishes like kugels can be a problem
for the egg-allergic. Have plenty of vegetable sides instead.
sensitive individuals can enjoy potatoes or even better, sweet potatoes
and rice without pilaf (which is a wheat product). Quinoa, known as the
incredible wheat free “super food,” can do double duty as a side or
even a main for the vegetarians at the table.
Look at Rosh
Hashana food-allergy-friendly-menu development as an opportunity for
creativity. There’s more to a beautiful meal than the food. Presentation
is key in creating a festive ambiance. Linens, serving pieces, flowers,
all go a long way in creating the right mood.
Think of colors,
textures, and flavors. The natural vibrant colors of the simanim lend
themselves to gorgeous presentation. Try using a large glass sectioned
platter to highlight each siman. Find the balance that creates a
festive, delicious and food allergy-savvy masterpiece for the whole
family. Don’t forget to ask friends and other guests who will be joining
your meal if they have any dietary restrictions. “Food sensitivity” has
more than one application. The last thing you want at the holiday meal
is someone who won’t eat or worse, someone who eats the wrong thing and
has a reaction.
Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the New Year and the start of a beautiful string of fall celebrations.
Carrot, Apple Raisin Salad
• 8 carrots, grated
• 4 granny smith apples, chopped
• 2 stalk celery, chopped
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 2 tablespoon lemon juice
• 4 tablespoons honey
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
Combine dressing ingredients. Toss with salad ingredients.
recipe was taken from A Taste of Sweetness E-Cookbook and is nut
free, egg free, dairy free and wheat free. It incorporates two symbolic
foods (simanim)-carrots and apples.
is a licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist and a
certifiably crazy mother of 10 (4 with food allergies). She is author of A Taste of Sweetness Rosh Hashana Food Allergy E-Cookbook and A Taste of Freedom Passover Food Allergy Cookbook.