Shabbat With Food Allergies
The Jewish Sabbath, “Shabbat”, is a spiritually elevating, beautiful day filled with festive meals.Many of the traditional Shabbat foods like challah, kugels, and gefilte fish are laden with food allergens. Let’s explore delicious, food allergy friendly alternatives to some Shabbat classics.
Challah, the traditional bread eaten at the beginning of all Shabbat meals is typically made with wheat flour and eggs. Both of these ingredients are on the “Big Eight” list of common allergens. Prepare an eggfree challah recipe and you’ll find that it is difficult to distinguish from its egg-based counterpart. Be sure to omit the egg wash glaze to make it truly eggfree. Sesame seeds are also potential allergens for some individuals.
Gluten free challot are a bit more challenging to find. Luckily we live in amazing times of gluten free product access. There are several companies making ready made gluten free challot. If you’re ready to make gluten free challah from scratch,roll up your sleeves, find a good gluten free challah recipe and go for it. Be sure that it’s dairy free (so it will be suitable for a meat-based Sabbath meal). Also, you’ll want to look over the ingredient list to make sure you have some of the hard-to-find ingredients.
The next course in a traditional Shabbat meal is fish. If you’re fish allergic just substitute any non-dairy appetizer that you’d enjoy. Hot soup, chilled soups,salads, fresh fruit etc… If you’re not allergic to fish but have egg and gluten sensitivities be aware that most prepared gefilte fish loaves have both egg and wheat. The exception, is on Passover. During Passover, gefilte loaves omit the wheat but do still have eggs. Skip the gefilte fish and prepare a simple fish fillet sans breading and eggy dressing. Salmon, tilapia, flounder, and sole are all suitable eggfree, gluten free fish solutions.
Moving on to soup. Steaming bowls of chicken soup with matzoh balls are a Shabbat classic. These special dumplings have both wheat and egg ingredients. You can either make gluten free matzoh balls (Passover is a good time to look for gluten free matzoh ball mixes) or skip the matzoh balls. Add extra carrots, squash, onion and noodles (wheat-free varieties).
The main course of the Shabbat meal doesn’t have to be a food allergy obstacle course. Serve chicken sans breading. Have plenty of fresh salads (skip the nuts and croutons) and steamed vegetables on hand. Potatoes or rice make great gluten free sides. If avoiding wheat, don’t make rice pilaf. The pilaf is an orzo wheat-based pasta.
Kugel, a traditional Sabbath staple, typically calls for wheat flour and eggs. Find recipes that omit either or both of these. Potato kugel can be made gluten free so can a variety of vegetable soufflees.
No Shabbat lunch meal is complete without a beef stew called cholent. Cholent is usually made with stew meat, sliced potatoes, barley, beans, onions, water, and seasonings (cooked in a slow cooker to bring out all of the flavors and be in compliance with Jewish prohibitions of cooking on the Sabbath). Cholent can easily be adapted to be gluten free. Simply substitute the barley with a bag of success brown rice (only leave rice in crock pot, not plastic bag). Also, check labels of seasonings for gluten ingredients. Teriyaki sauce, onion soup mix, and BBQ (popular cholent enhancers) can all contain wheat.
Now for the best part of the meal, dessert. Some non-dairy ice-creams call for egg ingredients. Opt for ice-creams that are soy or rice based (check for a pareve designation). Baked goods often have wheat, egg, and nut ingredients so be especially careful about items that you didn’t prepare yourself. Buy prepared baked items from specialty allergy bakeries or look for recipes that omit your allergens (eggless chocolate chip cookies, flourless chocolate cake, etc..).