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Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Have an allergy-free Purim!

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Jewish holidays and food. No surprises there. But if the treats that are exchanged and left at the doorstep on Purim – including home-baked goods with unexpected ingredients –the glorious holiday could bring some unwelcome surprises for people with food allergies and sensitivities. Today, advice for a merry and safe Purim.

“The other day someone asked what my plans are for Purim. I think, like every other parent of food-allergic children, my heart skipped a beat and sunk to my feet. Not this time of year again!” writes Sara Atkins. “Purim should be filled with fun, excitement and laughs, but for a family dealing with food allergies, it’s pure fear.” Atkins then explains how with preparation and some clever food substitutions she was able to transform Purim into a holiday her children would actually look forward to. [http://bit.ly/purimfood1]

DebbieN faced a different challenge: how to bake up a batch of low-carb hamantashen without artificial sweeteners that will be safe – and appealing – to a child with diabetes. The problem with hamantashen is that they deliver the carbs, but “they don’t have enough fiber or protein to slow down the sugars and avoid a spike in blood glucose. In short, not high-quality nutrition.” She finally found one that makes sense: substituting almond meal for some or most of the flour. Check out her blog for dough and Debbie’s tricks to stretch those carbs. [http://bit.ly/purimfood2]

As for the filling, Nancy Pascal says, “Low-carb jam works well and tastes delicious. Sugar-free chocolate chips are very good when hot, but not as delightful when cold, so you can try placing the hamantashen in the microwave for a few seconds before eating.” [http://bit.ly/purimfood3]

Many recipes call for flour, which of course is a show-stopper for anyone with celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten. That’s where Nancy Lapid comes in with not one but six gluten-free hamantashen recipes, including a dairy variation that calls for butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and an (optional) egg. [http://bit.ly/purimfood5]

No eggs? No problem. According to the (perfectly named) site, Allergy Shmallergy, here’s your substitution for two eggs: “1/4 cup applesauce and 1-1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer combined with 2 tbsp. water or soy milk.” [http://bit.ly/purimfood6] Leslie Shupak’s No Egg Hamantashen takes more of minimalist approach and sticks to the basics: flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, sugar, water and vanilla extract. [http://bit.ly/purimfood7]

Aside from hamantashen, you should also take into consideration food allergies and sensitivities as you pack up the mishloach manot gift baskets or plan your menu for the seudah, the festive meal eaten at the end of the holiday. Here’s a discussion with menu ideas if certain foods are off limits. [http://bit.ly/purimfood9]

Atkins shares her feelings about the holiday – after taking the necessary precautions. “That fear will never go away as long as the kids are still allergic. But the fear that they will be turned off from Judaism because the celebrations have only brought them heartache is gone, and because of that, my heart skips a few less beats and doesn’t sink as far into my feet when I hear it’s Purim time once again.”

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