The temperature is changing, school breaks are coming, and its back to planning for those special holidays again! This year, things certainly may look a bit different, as many of us are opting to stick around the house and celebrate within our own walls, hoping to avoid exposure to COVID-19. However, even though our visiting and travel is restricted, there is still room to reinvent or even create holiday traditions!
As a mom of two girls living with FPIES, holiday baking has always been a bit confounding. Now, after 11 years and counting of navigating the holidays with FPIES, I have created a variety of recipes to satisfy our household’s collective sweet tooth. Until two years ago, however, I had avoided exploring some of our extended family’s traditional recipes. For years, I counted them out, thinking we had too many alternate ingredients to make the old standards work for us. And then, I inherited a cookbook.
When I was a little girl, my Grandma K made cookies every year for the holidays at her house. It seemed that endless trays of cookies must have lined her Narnia-like freezer, ready to make their entrance, hour after hour, as the serving plates became empty. After her passing, I was touched that she left her treasured cookie cookbook behind to me, her only granddaughter. So two years ago, I decided that I wanted to honor her memory. I started leafing through the book, skimming the pages peppered with her neat, cursive notes to herself about batch size, substitutions and other suggestions. Finally, I found the page I was looking for—the chocolate crinkles.
Initially, I was disappointed. It called for eggs. A lot of eggs! In an egg free, gluten free, dairy free, and just-about-everything-else-free household, I wasn’t sure how I was going to compensate for lacking such a large amount of a key ingredient. I got to work. In the end, I figured out variations on the recipe and happily enough, the results looked and tasted almost exactly the same as I remembered my grandma’s cookies!
So what worked? I made myself focus less on “line by line” substitutions and more on substituting ingredients by function. Looking at the recipe, for instance, I could tell that the eggs served mainly the purpose of binding the recipe, and secondly the purpose of acting as leavening. I could address the binding function with sunflower seed butter and the leavening function with baking powder. I tinkered with ingredients and made sure to keep my balance of liquid and dry ingredients comparable to the original recipe. In the end, I was able to adapt the recipe into two different versions—a safe version for each of my daughters. And now, as we approach another holiday, my girls are looking forward to the same cookies I looked forward to so many years ago— my grandma’s chocolate crinkles.
When you re-invent the classic recipes, it isn’t only your family that can benefit—you can help others in unexpected ways. The year I made the crinkles for the first time was a year that my parents were staying with us for the holidays. They were traveling on to visit with our extended family up north and ended up bringing some of the crinkles that we sent with them to a large family party. One of the little ones at the party also had some food restrictions and unfortunately, couldn’t find a treat on the dessert table that was safe for him! Once they had learned about his restrictions, my parents realized that the crinkles might work! After confirming with his parents, this little guy was able to happily try these cookies and then had a safe treat for the party!
I encourage all of you to explore those traditional family recipes once more, if you haven’t already, and see if there isn’t one you can see in a new way, to reinvent a safe version for your little one/ones affected by FPIES. Talk to relatives and see if there Is a way you can carry on the tradition in a new way that is safe for your household. You never know what you might discover! If you need a little help with the modifications, remember to reach out to our FPIES community. There are so many creative people out there that can help you troubleshoot and learn something new! If you are successful in your holiday cooking re-inventions, we would love to hear from you! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experience— your story could be shared as a featured blog post during these holiday months.
At The FPIES Foundation, we wish all of you a safe, healthy and peaceful holiday season! Here’s hoping for a bright and hope-filled New Year ahead!
This post was written by Co-Founder/Co-Director Amanda LeFew.