If you're baking for a crowd, it can be challenging to find a recipe that pleases everyone. Pot-lucks, holiday parties or even kids lunches, where there are multiple food allergies and sensitivities to consider, can feel like options are limited.
According to Food Allergy Canada, nearly 2.6 million Canadians report having at least one food allergy and incidences are highest among young children under the age of 3. The most common food allergies, those the government of Canada have deem priority for food labeling purposes, are:
- peanuts (2 in every 100 children experience)
- tree nuts
- seafood (fish, shellfish, crustaceans)
- wheat and,
- food additives such as Sulphites
We do not know exactly why food allergies are on the rise. They can occur early on in life, or for others, in their adulthood. One theory, known as the "Hygiene Hypothesis", suggests that people in westernized countries live in over-sanitized environments where their immune systems are unexposed to everyday pathogens and bacteria. This can cause their immune system to hyper-react and mistakenly identify certain foods as harmful.
Genetics are a probably cause for food allergies in some individuals, but one study found 50% of adults report that their allergies had begun later in life, hinting at more complex systematic factors involved. Stress, gastrointestinal health and liver toxicity play a role in modulating the immune system and thus, can potentially influence the development of an allergy later on in life.
Working with a professional can help you navigate your food allergy, determine it's causation and, depending on the level of allergic reaction (keep in mind there is a big difference between an anaphylactic reaction and a headache--consider this when evaluating your results), help eliminate it all together.
Now back to the cookies.
These cookies are not 100% allergy free, although there are certain bakeries in Toronto that are free from most allergens. My favorite is Sorelle and Co. with multiple locations across the city.
If you are looking to bake something from scratch, these cookies are gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free and refined sugar free, not to mention, vegan friendly. They are easy to make, require less than 10 ingredients and no more than 10 minutes of prep work. Since they accommodate most allergies, I find they are kid-friendly and great for potlucks or holiday parties. You can sub tahini with sunflower butter, just increase the baking soda to one full teaspoon, if you are baking for someone with a sesame allergy.
These cookies are chewy on the inside and crispy on the edges. They are perfect for dipping in a cold glass of nut-free milk or a warm cup of tea. I have also used them as the base to a Vegan Cookie Affogato: Place a tahini chocolate chip cookie at the bottom of a bowl, top with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream and shot of espresso poured on top! Easy, decadent, and delicious!
Overall Prevalence of Self-reported Food Allergy in Canada, L. Soller et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology February 2012 (Abstract)
A population-based study on peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame allergy prevalence in Canada. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, MD, et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, February 2010