How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction

How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction

This post is sponsored by Pfizer Canada. All views and opinions are my own.

If you or someone you know has food allergies, you know how overwhelming it can be. With an estimated 2.6 million Canadians impacted by food allergies, it is a growing public health issue in Canada. Walking into the office at my kid’s school, the wall of children’s pictures with their allergy information is a constant reminder that I need to always be aware of what I send to school. Almost 500,000 Canadian children live with food allergies and the best way to get in front of the fear is to have knowledge.

I know that I have opted out of serving food to my children’s friends in the past because the fear of them having an allergic reaction was too much to bear. Have you? We have prepacked snacks for the neighbourhood kids and apples are always ready in the crisper but I think we could all benefit from actually having them participate in birthday parties, BBQs and just lazy summer days spent running through the sprinklers.

Allergy-Friendly Kitchen

We got to hang out with expert home cook and allergy awareness advocate Thea Vanherwaarden and NASCAR driver/ Food Allergy Canada ambassador Alex Tagliani in the Allergy-Friendly Kitchen put on by Food Allergy Canada and Pfizer Canada. Both Thea and Alex have severe allergies and hearing them discuss what their life is like was really eye-opening. Alex, who races cars, said he is more scared to eat out than drive 400km/hour.

How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction

A general consensus of the day was that reading food labels was an important step in keeping everyone safe. No matter how long you or someone who has food allergies has been eating a certain product it is important to always check the labels. Manufacturers of food can change their production process and ingredients at any time and the only way to be sure is to read that label. If you have questions about cross-contamination or whether a product may be safe for you to consume, contact the company before purchasing.

Also, remember to do the Triple Check

  1. Once at the store before buying it.
  2. Once when you get home and put it away.
  3. Again before you serve or eat the product.

For more information head on over to the Food Allergy Canada website by clicking the button below.

How to Prepare Allergy-Friendly Meals

If you know you are going to be preparing food for someone who has allergies, all it takes is a little bit of prep work and the knowledge of how to do it to be confident. Take a little extra time to prep their food first so there is less likelihood of cross-contamination and you will breathe easier. You can also take a free 30-minute Food Allergy Canada online course to be more allergy aware at the AllergyAware.ca website. There you can learn the basics of food allergy and anaphylaxis. They offer courses on ‘Anaphylaxis in the Community’, ‘Anaphylaxis in Schools’, and “Anaphylaxis in Child Care Settings’.

How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction

Before you start cooking you are going to want to get everything together so make sure you have 2 sets of everything, so you don’t cross-contaminate. Use a dedicated dishcloth to give everything you will be using for your allergen-free meal prep (and serving items) a good wash in dish soap and water and also give your surfaces a clean with a dedicated sponge. Allergens could be hiding in the most obvious places but if you’re not aware you may miss them.

Once you have all your dedicated products together and the space is clean, you get to prepare your delicious meal, I totally recommend the tacos below but you can head over to the Food Allergy Canada website to find tons of safe options. Remember to also use a dedicated cutting board and wash your hands often. Finally, keep the allergy-friendly meal covered in a place where it will not come in contact with other food so all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Also, stay tuned to a #SummerOfTAG Allergy-Friendly Kitchen contest in upcoming weeks on Food Allergy Canada website

Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa and Chickpea Avocado Crema

Since most of the people in our home have dairy sensitivities this recipe was the highlight of the event for me. Easy lunch or dinner and perfect if you love leftovers.

How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction



  • 2 (about 20 oz/600 g) Chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 – 6.55 oz (186 mL) cans Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 Red onion (½ sliced and ½ diced)
  • 1 ¾ (400 mL) cups Water
  • 2 tbsp Cumin (ground)
  • 1 tbsp Coriander (ground)


  • 4 large Limes, divided
  • 1 large Mango (diced)
  • 1 large Tomato (diced)
  • ¼ Green onion (sliced thinly)
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro (chopped)


  • ½ cup (125 mL) Cooked chickpeas
  • 1 Avocado (pitted with skin removed)
  • ¾ cup 175 mL Fortified coconut beverage
  • ½ tbsp 7 mL Hot sauce


12 small Soft corn tortilla

Handful Cilantro leaves

* Note: Read recipes carefully to ensure you are not allergic to any ingredients.

* Reminder: Read food labels each and every time you buy something. Manufacturers can change their production process and alter their products at any time.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and place into a medium pot. Add Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, ½ red onion thickly sliced, water, cumin, coriander and the zest and juice of one lime. Ensure chicken is covered in liquid and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

  1. Mango salsa: In a medium bowl add diced mango, tomato, green onion, remaining red onion diced, chopped cilantro, and the juice of one lime. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Chickpea Avocado Crema: In a blender add chickpeas, avocado, coconut beverage, hot sauce, juice of one lime, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. If too thick, add more coconut beverage 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). 
  4. Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes to warm up. If you want a crispy tortilla, grill tortillas will a grill pan on medium-high heat over the stove.
  5. Once the chicken is done, place in large bowl and shred with two forks. Strain liquid and pour into a medium-size saucepan. Cook liquid on medium heat for an additional 10 minutes. Pour liquid onto the shredded chicken and mix well.
  6. Remove tortillas from the oven. To each tortilla, add a portion of chicken, mango salsa and top with chickpea avocado crema. Roll and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Alternative: Substitute chicken for pork, and cook the pork in a slow cooker for 3 hours on high.

Being Prepared is Not Always Enough

Even after you have done all this careful prep you could be faced with an allergic reaction. Always be on the lookout for symptoms that something may be awry such as these that I just learned, think F.A.S.T….

Face Hives, itching, redness, swelling of face, lips or tongue

Airway Trouble breathing, swallowing or speaking, nasal congestion, sneezing

Stomach Stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea

Total Body Hives, itching, swelling, weakness, dizziness, sense of doom, loss of consciousness

How to Have an Allergy-Friendly Kitchen and Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction

Once you’ve determined that there is an allergic reaction happening the best line of treatment is giving epinephrine through an epinephrine auto-injector. Please speak to your doctor for more information.

Disclosure: Epinephrine auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label.







Disclosure: Epinephrine auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. This product may

not be right for you. Always read and follow the label.

Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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  1. kristen visser
    June 7, 2018 / 10:37 am

    Thankfully this isn’t an issue in our house but it is in my cousins! And of course these are good things to know and keep in mind just in case. you never know when things can suddenly change and pop up

  2. jan
    June 7, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    I am so glad that we do not have any food sensitivity or allergy issues!

  3. kathy
    June 8, 2018 / 5:15 pm

    My niece has severe allergies to dairy and eggs products,it can be scary!

  4. Calvin
    June 9, 2018 / 12:41 am

    Nice list, always be prepared an try your best to prevent these sorts of things

  5. Janet M
    June 9, 2018 / 3:06 pm

    These are very good reminders. After a while it becomes a habit.

  6. Rosanne Robinson
    June 9, 2018 / 6:42 pm

    My daughter has several food allergies and countless intolerances, reading the food labels is a top priority.

  7. kathy downey
    June 10, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    Thanks for the Food Allergy Canada website they have lots of information!

  8. Debbie White Beattie
    June 10, 2018 / 10:34 pm

    I’m really lucky to not have anyone I know suffer from food allergies. The recipe above looks delicious except the stuff with avocados because I don’t like them.

  9. John Hubbard
    June 11, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Useful stuff

  10. Carole D
    June 11, 2018 / 10:28 pm

    I am so glad that there is no food allergy issues in my family!

  11. Treen Goodwin
    June 15, 2018 / 7:28 am

    Thanks for the tips , great thing to have on hand , allergies are scary !!!

  12. Leanne
    June 15, 2018 / 1:09 pm

    Great tips , my brothers daughter has food allergies and it does make me nervous when she’s over for dinner . Thanks for the information.

  13. Debbie White Beattie
    June 17, 2018 / 3:20 am

    You’ve got great tips and its got to be awful to always have to be aware of everything you eat.

  14. Silvia D
    June 22, 2018 / 5:51 pm

    no issues with food allergies with us but do have guests that visit that have some, thank you for the post!

  15. Kristi F
    June 25, 2018 / 11:41 pm

    I have an egg intolerance so I’ve learned how to make a lot of things without common allergens. Those tacos look great.

  16. Nate
    December 22, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    I am happy that our family has no major issues with allergies

  17. Tammi L.
    January 27, 2019 / 5:23 pm

    I never realized how urgent it was until I was on a field trip with my daughter, I offered a girl one of my chocolate chip cookies and it became very clear. She asked me if there was any nuts and I said no, she asked if it was a nut free house, I explained that it wasn’t but I made the cookies and there was none in there, but she said if you have had peanut butter on the counter or in the mixer it is a chance I can’t take. She was so sad. She then pointed to her fanny pack (or waist pack since it was on her belly) and said that she has to have an epi pen with her all the time.

  18. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    March 19, 2019 / 1:01 pm

    I do think that the Triple Check is a really good idea for those who have to be aware of allergies. It must be very stressful if someone in the family has a bad allergy. Luckily no one in my family has food sensitivities nor allergies

    June 5, 2019 / 7:49 pm

    I have a granddaughter that has food allergy problems, reading labels so important.

  20. Angela Duku
    October 19, 2019 / 1:13 pm

    Very glad that I am not allergic to anything, feel very bad for those who are though