Parents of food-allergic youngsters know that the most surefire way to safeguard their kids from trigger foods is to prepare all meals and snacks at home in a controlled environment. For this week’s series, I asked three top voices in the Twitter food allergy community, Kim Maes, Cybele Pascal and Robyn O’Brien — all parents of children with food allergies — for their favorite cooking tips, essential tools and strategies to prepare allergen-free food.
1. Stock your kitchen with tools and cooking utensils that are easy to sanitize. The key to a safe kitchen is to minimize your chances for cross-contamination, and the right tools make it easier for you to do so. Both Kim Maes and Cybele Pascal advise home cooks to steer away from wood cutting boards and cooking utensils; these items can’t survive the hot dishwasher water, and their porous nature can absorb allergens. Instead, opt for plastic cutting boards and silicone or plastic utensils, which are easy to sanitize properly.
Cast-iron cookware is a mainstay in many kitchens; however, Maes points out, “Because these are often meant to be seasoned, particles from previous meals involving allergens can remain on the surface.” In terms of cookware, Maes recommends stainless-steel pans that are dishwasher-safe, such as those from All-Clad, and cast-iron pans dedicated to only allergen-free food. “I leave a label on [the cast-iron pans] when I’m not using them in case someone else is cooking in my kitchen.” Maes’ kitchen also includes dishwasher-safe glass bakeware, stainless cooking utensils, dedicated silicone cooking utensils and a separate labeled toaster for gluten-free bread.
2. Invest in a smart selection of timesaving kitchen gadgets. Since preparing allergy-friendly food may entail a separate cooking process, head to your local kitchen supply store or restaurant supply store for products that can shave off some time. You don’t need to go overboard, however. “Your kitchen needs are no different from a non-food-allergic household,” says Pascal. “Except for the Magic Bullet, perhaps. This is a great way to make shakes for my food-allergic son.” Pascal also swears by her microplane, her mixing bowls from Crate and Barrel, and her Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
This article, written by Marissa Brassfield, originally appeared on CalorieLab