When you bite into one of Kelly Rudnicki’s chocolate chip cookies, you’d never guess it’s allergen-free.
Her pumpkin bread and apple cinnamon doughnut holes—made without any dairy, eggs or nuts—are also likely to disappear fast.
Rudnicki, 35, is a Wilmette mother of 4 (soon-to-be 5), a former TV producer and the blogger behind FoodAllergyMama.com, which recently led her to the publication of her first book, “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book.”
When her oldest son, John, was diagnosed with severe food allergies in 2003, Rudnicki found herself in the scary and isolating position of being the mom whose child could die because of something he ate. As parents of children with allergies know, a life-threatening allergic reaction can progress within minutes.
“So much of the battle is inclusion,” says Rudnicki, who started baking allergy-free treats because she wanted her son to be able to fit in at school. She became the go-to snack and party mom and started developing recipes—using applesauce, water and silken tofu as egg replacements—so good that the kids who didn’t have allergies couldn’t tell the difference.
“It’s all about love—putting love into your food, bringing the family together, having your children share in this experience and really embrace the art of baking. It’s what we grew up on, but kids with food allergies can’t pull up a chair at the kitchen counter,” she says.
Rudnicki wanted to change that.
She shared the recipes on her blog and got great feedback from other parents struggling with their children’s allergen-free dietary needs.
Most of the cookbooks on food allergies are black and white and clinical, Rudnicki says. She wanted to make a full-color cookbook, chock-full of photos and as delicious to read as the Barefoot Contessa’s books.
That led to “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book,” published this fall by Chicago-based Surrey Books. The book features more than 50 recipes with beautiful, full-color photos. To raise awareness for people with food allergies, a portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) in Chicago.
“Giving back is the bottom line,” Rudnicki says.
Given her longtime passion for journalism and writing, Rudnicki couldn’t figure out why she felt so pulled to stay at home. Now, it all makes sense.
“Everything works out in a way that you don’t see at first,” she says.
And Rudnicki still has a couple buns in the oven: her fourth son (and fifth child) due in February and a second cookbook kicking around in her brain. We can’t wait for her to come up with more scrumptious delights … especially since our office is a few blocks away from her house.
“The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book” is available through Amazon.com , at most local bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and Borders. And if you order it off FoodAllergyMama.com, Kelly Rudnicki will sign it for you.