Sophie Malik welcomes us into her kitchen and shares how she navigates cooking with food allergies.
Cooking with food allergies
Food allergies are managed differently in every household. Some of us manage multiple food allergies and keep allergens in the house, while others keep an allergen-free kitchen.
The kitchen is the heart of every home. Our goal in sharing our kitchens is to learn tips from each other that will help make cooking with food allergies more joyful while also providing a unique perspective on how each of us manage food allergies.
Check out more of our In Kitchen series here!
In the kitchen with Sophie
Sophie is a junior in high school with food allergies who loves to cook and bake. This teen has such a positive mindset when it comes to managing food allergies that she also recently started her own virtual support group called Food Allergy Alliance. Go Sophie!
Her hope is to create a space where members are encouraged to share experiences and foster connections so that everyone can live a healthy, balanced life with food allergies.
Sophie’s favorite subjects in school are Math and Science. Other than spending time in the kitchen, she loves music, sings in her high school’s choir, and has been playing the piano for eleven years.
Sophie’s kitchen tour
7 questions for Sophie about cooking in her kitchen with food allergies
Who cooks and eats in your kitchen?
My mom does most of the cooking in our kitchen, but my younger sister and I help out a lot, too. My dad is usually working, so he mostly eats what we make!
What food allergies do you or your family live with?
I’m allergic to peanuts, tree nuts (except almonds), sesame, shellfish, green peas, chickpeas, lentils, and white beans. My younger sister has most of the same food allergies, too.
Do you have food allergens in your house? If so, what influenced your decision?
Our allergens have always been present in our household. It is a decision that my parents made when we were very young. I think it helps keep us vigilant.
I always check ingredient lists before eating anything, and it has taught me to be careful and more responsible with my food allergies.
How long have you been cooking? Where do you find inspiration?
I have been helping out in the kitchen for as long as I can remember, therefore as a result, when I started middle school, I began cooking and baking on my own.
I’m often inspired by pictures I see online, blog posts, and cooking shows. Whenever I go out to eat and see a dish that isn’t safe for me because of my allergies, I love to re-create something similar at home in my own kitchen.
Describe a meal you’re proud of that you’ve cooked in your kitchen.
About two years ago, working with my allergist, I discovered that I could safely eat almonds. I had always wanted to try macarons, so after that, one of the first things that I baked was make vanilla macarons (which are made with almond flour).
Overtime, I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and flavors, and have had a lot of fun trying to perfect the cookies, which can sometimes be pretty temperamental!
What has cooking taught you about living life with food allergies?
Cooking has helped me develop a positive relationship with food, which can sometimes be hard to foster when you have food allergies.
For example, I love trying new recipes and I feel empowered knowing that anything that I make in my kitchen is 100% safe for me to eat.
In addition, cooking is so much fun – it is cool to see how ingredients come together to make different dishes. The biggest reward is getting to enjoy what I make and sharing it with others.
What is one piece of advice you have for a food allergic teen who wants to start cooking but may be intimidated in the kitchen?
Cooking can be pretty intimidating at first, but my advice would be to start small and focus on all of the foods that you CAN cook with.
Start by helping a parent/sibling make a dish – chop some ingredients, stir a sauce, or take something out of the oven so that you feel more comfortable working in the kitchen.
Once you have established some basic skills, find a couple of recipes that you would be excited about trying and go for it! It’s all about trying new things and getting involved in the process.
Above all, the best way to learn how to cook and gain confidence in the kitchen is by trying it!
Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us!
Shop Sophie’s favorite kitchen things
Check out more of Sophie
Shahla is a mom of two girls who live with environmental allergies such as asthma and eczema. Their food allergies include tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and other seeds. Shahla is trained as a Natural Chef who wants to share the comfort that cooking has brought her family. She believes that everyone, regardless of dietary requirements, deserves a plate full of color and flavor.