Theresa Willingham has done her homework. Compiling this extensive handbook of tips, information, and personal stories certainly took some serious time and effort. But before I get into the details of this guide and cookbook, I do want to point out that this is a gluten-free guide first and foremost.
I think the title of “Food Allergy” may be slightly misleading. It is true that the book is completely wheat-free (one of the top eight allergens), but gluten is the author’s primary focus, which is typically a food intolerance and most problematic in autoimmune disorders such as Celiac Disease and Autism. This is not to say that she ignores all other common food allergies, dairy sits right along side gluten, firmly in the passenger seat, making this an excellent GFCF resource. Yet, other allergens are placed in the back seat, getting her attention and mention, but not focus. In fact, while peanut allergies are addressed, I didn’t come across any tree nut references.
Theresa’s gluten-free focus is understandable, since her son was born with wheat/gluten problem, most likely due to Celiac Disease.
I point this out, because while the recipes are all gluten-free and from what I could tell dairy/casein-free, you do need to read the guide of letters on each recipe to see if they also meet with your free-from needs. Some of the recipes do contain other allergens, and there are some errors in the allergen labeling of the recipes to add a bit more confusion.
There is one other reason I bring mention of the gluten-free nature – many who are concerned with multiple food allergies (or even simply a wheat allergy vs gluten intolerance) are not looking for gluten-free recipes. All of the baking recipes use specialty flours, xanthan gum and other ingredients that may render the recipes less useful (but not useless) for someone who is say dealing with a dairy, egg, and nut allergy combo.
With that commentary out of the way, I did find the reading entertaining. Theresa includes many personal stories, her own and those of other parents of children with allergies / intolerances. She also discusses coping with certain situations, and the basics, such as reading ingredient labels.
What I DO like about the recipes is that they are all relatively simple and appear to be very kid-friendly. Theresa has compiled several of her own recipes as well as recipes from other well-known authors, such as Carol Fenster. As mentioned though, this is a guidebook first, cookbook second … it is an excellent starting point, with a nice little selection of recipes to inspire. Though you will likely want to seek out some additional cookbooks once you get going.
Overall, I do highly recommend the Food Allergy Field Guide for parents of gluten-free or gluten-free / dairy-free (GFCF) children, but would lean parents of children with multiple food allergies or life-threatening food allergies to Linda Coss’s guidebook, How to Manage Your Child's Life Threatening Food Allergies.