Have you ever sent out birthday party invitations, with a polite little “Let us know if you have any food allergies” at the bottom, only to be faced with a wave of responses you weren’t expecting?
Well – keep calm, and carry on. With a little know how, feeding kids with food allergies is totally manageable – and actually kind of fun! Here’s our go to guide to keep you on the right track…
Start by making a list of the kids with allergies, and those ingredients that you need to avoid. Then decide what party food you will make and buy, and match them up. At the end of your food planning, make sure there are at least one or two safe options available for each child on the list.
You can generally cater the needs of the kiddy crowd, including those with common allergies, with a few simple staples. Fruit kebabs or platters, fruit juice icy poles, fairy bread (with milk free bread and milk free margarine), plain potato chips or crips, and popcorn made with only oil, salt and or plain icing sugar are a good start.
The main event however, the birthday cake, can be the tricky one to cater. And in this regard, cupcakes can be a lifesaver. You can substitute out different ingredients easily, and make a few different batches for different kids if need be.
If you’ve got a favourite cupcake recipe you want to use, try these modification tips:
Gluten free or wheat allergy?
Use a premix gluten/wheat free flour (like Bob’s Red Mill, Vitarium, Schar, FG Roberts or Woolworths brand), and ensure you use pure icing sugar or a gluten free icing mixture for your topping, as many icing mixtures contain a small amount of wheat flour.
Use Orgran egg replacer and water in place of eggs. Some people use chia or flax eggs ( with ground chia seeds and water ) but the texture of this is often better suited to a muffin recipe with chunky ingredients rather than a smooth cupcake.
Use soy milk or rice milk, and a dairy/soy free margarine, like Nuttelex. TIP: buy a new tub of margarine for the party to avoid any contamination with things like peanut butter or toast crumbs from the family.
And… remember to read all the food labels of your usual ingredients to check for the allergens your guests need to avoid!
In Australia, the 10 most common food allergies are to milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, sesame, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and lupin. The recipe below can me modified to cater for them all if need be.
Bloom allergy friendly birthday cupcakes
-makes 12 large cupcakes
2 cups self raising flour (regular or gluten/wheat free mix)
¾ cup castor sugar
¾ cup milk (or soy or rice milk)
125g melted Nuttelex margarine
2 eggs (or 2 tsp Orgran egg replacer + 2Tbs water)
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 cups pure icing sugar
1 cup Nuttelex
2-3 Tbs milk (or soy or rice milk)
1 tsp vanilla essence
Food coloring, or try a more natural colour and flavour like raspberry or strawberry powder or cocoa powder.
Sprinkles, cachous, fresh or dried berries or other favourite decorations (remember to check the ingredients!)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Line 12 hole muffin pan with paper cupcake cases or reusable silicone ones.
Sift SR flour and castor sugar into a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.
Add eggs/egg replacer, vanilla, your milk choice and melted Nuttelex into the centre and gently stir to combine.
Spoon into cupcake cases, up to about ¾ full, to ensure they don’t rise too high when cooking.
Bake for about 12-15 mins, or until just cooked through.
Cool thoroughly on a wire rack before icing.
Beat margarine and vanilla together. Sift in icing sugar, adding in a little of the milk as you go, and your colour/flavour if using. Beat until evenly combined. Spoon into piping bag and pipe on top cupcakes. Decorate as desired!
Cupcake decorations – Keep in mind any decorations you use may contain things like milk or wheat, so check labels carefully. Major supermarkets tend to carry items like sprinkles and cake confetti that are often suitable, or consider a non edible decoration like a paper topper that matches your party theme.
Remember when cooking for a crowd to be aware of cross contamination in the kitchen. When preparing foods, clean work areas, and use separate chopping boards, utensils and serving plates. Always remember to wash hands between preparing items too.
The other way to deal with food allergies, which is also totally acceptable, is to admit if you feel unsure or overwhelmed.
Invite the parents of kids with food allergies to stay at the party to make sure their little one is safely included. Many parents of children with severe allergies will do this automatically- stay on and keep watch, ask you what ingredients are in a product, or bring along some food of their own, and their medicine bag just in case.
They wont be offended, they’ll appreciate you take their little one’s allergies as seriously as they do. And you will all have a great time, safely enjoying the celebration together!
Angela @ Bloom