Steph Colbourn welcomes us into her kitchen for our In the Kitchen Series 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.
In the kitchen with Steph
Steph started her Instagram feed, Bubble Girl Kitchen as a way to showcase her love of plant-based recipes that are nut, sesame and egg-free. She also shares stories of the social and emotional impact of living as an adult with food allergies which she hopes will help educate others. Steph feels that the best part of starting her account has been connecting to the food allergy community.
Scrolling through her page, you will find beautiful food that not only looks comforting but wholesome to eat as well.
Celebrating food heritage with food allergies
Food allergies have not stopped Steph from celebrating her Italian heritage through food. For example, artichokes braised in lemon, garlic and white wine, topped with toasted herby breadcrumbs, cauliflower wings, and fried zucchini fritters are a few of the mouthwatering dishes she has created in her kitchen.
You can find Steph’s cooking adventures saved in the highlight bubbles on her Instagram page. The love her Nonna (grandmother in Italian), instilled in her through food is apparent when you watch her make cannelloni, pizza and ravioli- all from scratch and free from Steph’s allergens!
For more on celebrating food heritage with food allergies, check out our series Flavors of Culture.
Steph’s kitchen tour
7 questions for Steph about cooking in her kitchen with food allergies
Who cooks and eats in your kitchen?
Myself (and pre-covid, all of my friends).
What food allergies do you live with?
Peanut, tree nuts, egg and sesame.
Your Nonna’s food has been a big influence on you. What lessons have you learned from her about cooking?
My Nonna expressed her love through food and cooking for others. She was always willing to adapt recipes to make them allergen friendly and meat-free for me.
Her love of food has been passed onto me through cooking which has become an integral part of my life and something I feel extremely passionate about.
What is one meal you’re proud of that you’ve cooked in your kitchen?
I’m proud of myself whenever I make fresh pasta, especially an egg-free version that my Nonna would enjoy!
The process of making any kind of pasta feels very meditative. It’s a time for me to slow down, connect to my roots and revel in childhood memories.
It has been most rewarding finding ways to adapt her recipe for lasagne to make it free from eggs and dairy.
What is one challenge you’ve faced eating a nut-free and plant-based diet?
The biggest challenge I have faced is to advocate for myself. Advocating for my health is going to take a front seat to advocating for animals.
What does veganism mean to you and how have food allergies impacted your vegan lifestyle?
I get anxious calling myself “vegan” because labels can be so definitive and often discourage people from eating less animal-based food. Instead, I prefer to take a more relaxed approach to food-related rules and pat myself on the back every time I find a creative way to nourish myself. I encourage you to do the same!
Living a vegan lifestyle is not the same as having food allergies. Being a vegan is a choice and one that I’ve made intentionally, however, there are times where I’ve had to stray away from being vegan.
For example, it is not always realistic to eat vegan at a restaurant or when I’m on vacation. I have to consider my choices given my food allergies and prioritizing my safety. I remind myself that just because cheese was my only safe option, it is not a failure. Be kind to yourself!
What is your favorite cookbook?
I have many favorites but my “go-to” for inspiration and the one cookbook that reflects my style of food is “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman.
Mark Bittman is truly passionate about getting people into the kitchen for the pure enjoyment of cooking. He always provides alternatives in his recipes. There is a casual feeling about his food that feels accessible and inclusive to me. So often, recipes don’t feel attainable.
Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us!
Shop Steph’s favorite kitchen things
Check out more of Steph
More in the kitchen tours
Shahla is a mom of two girls who live with multiple food allergies, asthma and eczema. Shahla is trained as a Holistic 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.