Food Blogger: Kelly Rudnicki of Food Allergy Mama
When her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies, this mama rose to the challenge of cooking well within restrictions
Any mother of five kids is likely to spend a fair amount of time orchestrating what’s for dinner. But upon learning that her second son, John, had severe allergies, Kelly Rudnicki’s cooking routine got that much more complicated. Here, Rudnicki talks about her upcoming allergy-friendly cookbook (which includes dairy-, egg-, and nut-free sauces and entrees), kitchen efficiency, and the perks to cooking within restrictions. —Lucie Alig
What inspired you to start Food Allergy Mama?
Before I had my son, I lived in Chicago and ate out all the time. I don’t think I cooked a single meal at home! My passion for cooking was really ignited by my son John’s food allergy diagnosis. At first, I felt so alone. I didn’t know any other moms who struggled with the same issue, and it was very isolating. I was terrified to take John to play dates, to preschool, or even gym classes because of snack cross-contamination issues. So I created my blog as a way to connect to other moms who knew my struggle—to share fears, triumphs, and allergy-friendly recipes.
How did you first find out that your son had severe allergies?
John had a severe allergic reaction to a Gerber Veggie Wheel when he was about eight-months-old. The snack was covered in a cheese powder and he immediately became violently ill. After seeing a certified pediatric allergist, we learned that he was severely allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, legumes, and peas.
What are some of your tips for cooking for kids with allergies?
Keep it simple and keep it fresh. Cooking allergy-friendly dishes is actually pretty easy if you stick to all-natural, unprocessed foods. With five children, I try to cook strategically—by making double batches and using leftovers for new meals later in the week.
What have you learned about food in general—how it’s produced, how it’s prepared—through your experience?
I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how poorly America eats and how much our society relies on packaged and fast food. We need to slow down, enjoy food in its purest form. Fresh food that is simply and deliciously prepared nourishes our bodies, minds, and souls. There’s nothing better than an amazing meal shared with those you love.