For those who celebrate Passover with family and friends, there is nothing sweeter than taking that first bite into a delicious Coconut Macaroon. If you have food allergies, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this tasty treat with the rest of the guests.
In fact, for those 32 million Americans who are food allergic, the key to eating healthy and delicious foods safely is in finding the right substitues.
I have worked with many clients who are upset with family members who find it unthinkable to change a family recipe. However, being able to pass down recipes is also important. I encourage my clients to make their own recipes and enjoy a beloved treat together.
Here are few things to keep in mind when baking for food allergic individuals.
Read. Each. Label. I cannot stress this enough! It is important not to assume that you know what ingredients are contained in any product you may use because ingredients can and do change. Also, do not simply look at the bottom of the ingredients list for the allergens in bold print. Currently, only eight allergens are in bold in the United States (Dairy, Egg, Wheat, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Shellfish, Fish). They may or may not be the allergen(s) you are concerned with.
Cross Contact: Even a trace amount (5 particles per million) of a food protein could result in an allergic reaction. Cross contact happens when two food proteins mix together. As a result, each food then contains small amounts of the other’s food protein. In order to avoid this, keep countertops and utensils clean. Keep other foods in question away from where you are preparing the food.
Be Creative. Practice makes perfect, but remember, you are creating these new recipes with love. Trying new recipes using different (read: safe) ingredients to find which ones you and your loved ones like best, are the best way to pass down new traditions and who knows, you may end up with a new family favorite.
Here’s my take for an egg and dairy free Passover Coconut Macaroon (adapted from Lynn K at kidswithfoodallergies.org)
2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 cup coconut milk (canned)
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
4 tsp matzah cake meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray).
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the coconut milk, agave nectar (honey) and salt.
Add the matzah cake meal and whisk thoroughly.
For chocolate macaroons: add 2 Tbsp cocoa powder to the mixture.
Heat the mixture to a full boil, and continue to boil for about two minutes or until it has thickened.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and shredded coconut.
Drop the mixture by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet.
Bake the macaroons for about 16 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
TIP: Coconut milk in a can tends to separate - I put the whole UNOPENED can in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes. Then shake well.