Written by Susanna Booth.
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
Cooking for friends who can’t eat certain foods
By Susanna Booth
We all know the score. You invite your friends round and then add at the bottom of the
message “oh and is there anything you can’t eat?” But when they respond with a “yes”, what’s
your next move?
Well, the first thing is to know what you are dealing with. This is where I generally ask the
person for more details. For instance, if they say they “can’t have nuts” does this mean that
any ingredient with even a remote chance of nut traces must be avoided, or does it just mean
that the recipe can’t contain them?
If you yourself have an allergy, intolerance or coeliac disease, you are already sensitive to
such issues in someone else. However, it can make meal choices that much more difficult.
That’s why I started blogging on widecirclecooking.com with recipes that are free of many of
the most commonly problematic ingredients. Because they are all vegan and gluten-free, they
will be suitable for a huge group of people – and of course you can always add meat etc. if you
My top tip is a thorough bout of label-checking before you start cooking. It is extraordinary
what sneaks in to even the most familiar products. I had a housemate with a severe allergy
to fish, which I initially thought would be no problem at all. I would just stop eating fish! But
of course even there you can get caught out – Worcestershire sauce is among the must-avoid
products because it contains anchovies.
My general tips are therefore:
1. Where possible, cook everything from scratch using only basic ingredients, eg. don’t
cheat and buy ready-made custard or apple pie or whatever. The less processing that
has taken place in a factory, the smaller the chance of a sneaky allergen.
2. Read the labels and make sure you understand them. Even added vitamins can be egg-
derived, for instance.
3. Be careful when buying wine or beer (which are often clarified using fish products/
egg/dairy). It can be helpful to look for the Vegan Society logo. The Vegan Society is
useful because they are strict about all animal products, including eggs and dairy.
4. Make sure all utensils/baking trays etc are scrupulously clean before use, and avoid
wooden surfaces/utensils in case of contamination.
5. Don’t be afraid to check with your friend about what you are making. They may want
to check the labels for themselves too, but don’t be offended – just think of it as extra
peace of mind.
DETAILS ABOUT THE BLOG
My blog site is dedicated to news and recipes about gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-
free and alcohol-free cooking. The aim is to encourage people to invite their wide circle of
friends over for dinner and to make something that everyone will enjoy and that can cater for
many different types of food restriction (religious, health or choice).