It’s Valentine’s Day again. Stores have stocked all of their shelves with chocolates and bonbons, but for some people it signals an anaphylactic nightmare.
Over the past year, my own family of foodies was hit with something unexpected - a case of adult-onset allergies. Cases, in fact. Two almond-related throat-closing emergencies led us to learn that my wife is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Just when we began to learn how to incorporate her new eating limitations, my own symptoms had me worrying that I might be allergic to something as well. Some elimination in my diet, some consults with my doctor, and some tests all confirmed my suspicions - I have a gluten intolerance.
Allergies seem to be increasingly prevalent these days - wheat, eggs, nuts, dairy, sesame, shellfish, soy. In fact, studies suggest that approximately one in every 13 Canadians suffers from a serious food allergy. Some schools, camps, and day cares have gone completely allergen-free. Some restaurants have even gone as far as labelling menu items and occasionally having full menu sections that are dedicated to nut-free or gluten-free items, which can help make eating out a less daunting task. It can still be stressful, though.
And like any special day, Valentine's Day shouldn't be about stressing over dinner plans. It's an opportunity to enjoy one another's company over a nice, delicious meal. Rather than panicking while trying to find a restaurant that is both allergy friendly and meets all of your romantic and culinary expectations, why not consider preparing a delicious meal at home for your amore?
This does not require a run out to specialty food stores to source ingredients. You simply need to plan ahead. The fewer pre-packaged and processed foods you include, the easier your task is going to be. And healthier too!
For Valentine's Day dish this year I'm starting dinner off with an eye-catching salad to set the Valentine's mood. Components include a spring mix salad, topped with Garlic & Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables, creamy Boursin cheese, fresh pomegranate seeds and drizzled with this Tasty Healthy Salad Dressing.
It presents beautifully, highlighting the reds and pinks found in the beets and pomegranate seeds. Roasted root vegetables are naturally sweet and pair off wonderfully with the vinegar based dressing, and the creaminess of the cheese. All presented on a bed of spring mix, you'll wonder why you ever considered a restaurant to begin with. It is also completely nut free (no peanuts or tree nuts here!) and gluten free.
In our household, over the past year, we have had to be a lot more conscious about what we buy, what we cook, what we make, and what we serve. We read all labels, we ask questions, and we make a lot of food from scratch. But just because we are a bit more restricted, we are still a family of foodies and we still appreciate delicious and beautiful food.
Check out the following list of allergy-sensitive Valentine's Day suggestions that I just know the special someone in your life will adore!
Lactose-Free Salmon Chowder
Gluten Free, Dairy Free & Nut Free Haricots Verts Bundles With Shallot Vinaigrette
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Stuffed Chicken Legs
Gluten-Free Spinach Lasagna
Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
Egg, Dairy and Nut-Free Chocolate Cake
Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Cornmeal Cookies
Wheat-Free Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies
Lactose-Free Banana Cake with Crunchy Topping