As a mom of a child with strict dietary needs, I often feel like an alien walking into a holiday dinner carrying my allergy-friendly dish that people are scared will taste horrible. At the same time, I’m also constantly asked by loving grandparents and aunts “What can I fix for your son?” This year, I decided to plan ahead to have several recipes that I could take with me feeling confident non-allergy members would love it and that I could prepare in my home for dinners that would be delicious and allergy safe. Whether you are gearing up to take food to events for your own kids who have allergies, or you are entertaining guests in your home where specialty food diets are a concern, here are a few easy to make recipes that are all around crowd pleasers on taste and also free of gluten, dairy, dye, or corn.
1. Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate
Using almond milk instead of cow’s milk is a creamy alternative for the vegans or dairy sensitive members of your family and friends. This recipe uses chocolate morsels and a dash of peppermint to create a lovely hot chocolate even the die hard chocoholics will love this Christmas.
2. Homemade Potato Chips
If you’re a fan of the barbeque chips they serve as appetizers at smokehouses here in the South, then this side dish is the one for you. Making them homemade, you can use an allergy friendly fryer oil like olive oil or grapeseed oil to whip up a batch of the tastiest, most finger licking snack food at your holiday table.
3. Black Bean Brownies
What, black beans? That’s right, instead of relying on wheat based flours to bind this recipe together, your base will be plain ol’ black beans. The moist nature of canned black beans gives these brownies a moist, decadent texture. You can walk in with brownies everyone will love, and no one will ever guess it’s not cake flour in there!
4. Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
These yummy oatmeal bars are a great dish to make in large batches for serving and for having later as a grab and go breakfast item. It takes a little tweaking to make this recipe allergy friendly, but it’s completely worth it because they are so good. Assuming you’re using a jam that’s corn-free, then you want to substitute the flour for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix, coconut oil for butter, and make your own baking powder using Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar. Then this recipe from the Pioneer Woman because allergy friendly and just as yummy! It can also be stored in the fridge, so it’s perfect for a make ahead dish.
5. Gluten Free Apple Cider Doughnuts
Who doesn’t love doughnuts? You’ll want to replace butter with coconut oil, change up apple pie spice for nutmeg, and switch out baking powder for the make your own kind. Make sure your apple sauce is unsweetened, as many sweeteners contain corn. Consider dipping these yummies in cinnamon/sugar instead of using icing (that often contains corn), and you’re all set for a fabulous holiday dessert everyone will love!
6. Basic Meringues
Perhaps the simplest recipe in the Southern girl’s cooking arsenal is the basic meringue. This one is based on eggs, so it’s not friendly to the egg-allergic, but for anyone who is gluten, dairy, dye, or corn free this little one is an easy and tasty dessert idea that’s simple to whip up before heading through the woods to Grandma’s house.
7. Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Sausage
I love savory side dishes that are also hearty! My son struggles with additives to cooking like corn oil or butter being added to green beans for flavor. That means that when I head to a part, a side dish like this one which would surely fill him up should we arrive and this be all he can eat, this side dish is a go-to favorite. It’s flavorful and a crowdpleaser among non-allergy aware eaters, and also safe for allergy concerned parents as well. **Note that your sausage does need to be nitrate/nitrate free variety if you’re serving corn-sensitive diners.
8. Skillet Potatoes or The Perfect Roasted Potato
Use Grapeseed oil instead of butter and you’re good to go. This one is a great holiday dish or weeknight dinner. It’s super quick, only three ingredients, and it tastes like Gordon Ramsey fixed it up for you himself. Divine!
9. German Chocolate Cookies
Oh, it’s a cake that we made into bite sizes so you can eat more of it in one go without a fork! What’s not to love? These delightful little bites are as easy on the eyes as they are on an sensitive stomach. You can’t go wrong with German Chocolate!
10. Herb Roasted Cornish Hens
When you want to be fancy for the holidays, Cornish hens are an easy way to bring some elegance to your table. Available in bulk at many wholesale stores, this one is fun when you’re serving a small family gathering and want to impress your guests. This recipe is a French one adapted from Julia Child, uses fresh herbs and spices, and is allergy friendly. Pro Tip: Serve each person their own Cornish hen like a mini-turkey per person instead of cutting it up into pieces to make your dinner table look straight out of a magazine.