The best part of weddings is the free food. Except for families with allergies.
My brother had his wedding reception this past weekend and they ended up having a potluck dinner, which made it easier to ensure there was food we could eat as we just brought our own, but there are always risks with food around others when you have allergies.
It has become second nature to always bring food to events that we can eat, because if I can’t eat, I will get hangry, which is not what anyone wants.
We made my family’s maple baked beans recipe which we almost ran out of (we made 70 servings). It is so good, and easy to make allergy friendly, especially if you have made my ketchup recipe.
Maple Baked Beans
1 lb dry navy beans *
4 quarts water, divided
6 slices bacon, cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbeque sauce (I used my ketchup)
5 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard**
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
- Rinse beans and put in large pot with 2 quarts of water
- Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 2 min. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour
- Drain and rinse, put back in pot and cover with remaining water.
- Boil, reduce heat and simmer for 40 min or until almost tender.
- Drain and reserve water.
- For oven: Place beans in casserole dish and add all remaining ingredients. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees F for 2.5 hrs or until tender, stirring occasionally and adding reserved bean liquid as needed. For Crock-Pot: Place beans in Crock-Pot, add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8 hrs
*I use a mix of black eyed peas, navy beans, black beans, and kidney beans
**If corn free, make sure your mustard doesn’t use white vinegar. The one I use has apple cider vinegar
So what makes weddings difficult for this with allergies? What’s the big deal?
First, who is making the food?
a) Is it a potluck, where everyone brings their own food; usually people have no concept of cross contamination or even fully understanding what is in their dish. Never ever trust someone’s word that it is free of certain ingredients. Do you know how many times I have had kitchen staff in restaurants try to convince me that butter isn’t dairy? Too many to count. No one knows your allergies like you do.
b) Is it a catered meal? If so, don’t just ask for what is (dairy, soy gluten etc.) free, because they don’t always make everything nor do they take additional training in understanding allergies. I always have to ask about each individual dish and it’s ingredients. Too many times do they forget that they put butter in the vegetables or milk in the mash potatoes until specifically asked about it.
Second, are your allergies anaphylactic?
What many people, even those with allergies, don’t understand is that any allergy can become anaphylactic at any time. Previous reactions are not indicative of what future allergic reactions will look like.
So if you are very concerned, or know for sure you have a serious allergy, check how they are preparing everything. Do they have your allergens anywhere near the food you are eating during prep in the back? Do they have a designated area they can prep your meals. Is there a way that they notify staff that your plate is separate or different (a coloured toothpick for example).
Third, how is the meal served?
a) Is it family style so you will serve your own food at your individual table? If that’s the case, make sure everyone at your table understands your allergies, that they can’t use anything other than the serving spoon in that specific dish, also ensure that said spoon doesn’t touch anything on their plate when they are serving yourself. Or maybe you need to go first and not have any seconds.
b) Is it buffet? Maybe you could check with staff and go through first, as everything will be cross contaminated by the time you go through the line. Or you could check with the servers about if they can dish you up a separate plate so you know that it is safe.
Lastly, do you trust people to wash their hands after they have eaten? Usually this isn’t a big deal for adults as those with allergies know to always wash their own hands prior to eating. This is a big deal if you have a toddler or newborn that still sucks on their hands. I have to watch to make sure people don’t touch my daughter V if they haven’t washed their hands, and kissing, even if it isn’t on the face, is forbidden unless you have washed your mouth.
Many may think this is ridiculous but we have had V break out in hives locally where J has kissed her after eating an allergen of hers.
Have you or any of your loved ones ever had difficulties at weddings or eating out? Please share! And if you have any new ideas or tips on what to look out for with food allergies, please comment.
All of this to say, we had such a great time at the wedding, but as an allergy mom I never truly relax.