When she’s not strategizing artistic advertising and marketing for Pittsburgh companies, North Hills native Liz Fetchin has her fingers within the kitchen, cooking up allergy pleasant meals for her household. Not too long ago, Liz launched Octofree, a weblog the place she shares recipes for on a regular basis meals and luxury meals freed from the highest eight meals allergens; product opinions for her favourite elements, snacks and kitchen instruments; and how-to guides for navigating life with meals allergic reactions and intolerances. Responses have been edited for readability and size.

Liz’s egg-free, dairy-free Easter quiche. (📸: @octofree)

What made you wish to begin your allergy-friendly meals weblog, Octofree?

I come from a household with plenty of meals allergic reactions and intolerances. If there’s an allergy or intolerance on the market, chances are high we’ve obtained it lined. I’ve been cooking meals with out the highest eight meals allergens (dairy, gluten, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, soy and eggs), for 15+ years, and for lots of that point, I assumed our household was distinctive.

After I had my son and began speaking with different mothers, although, I noticed that many different households are navigating life with meals allergic reactions or intolerances. The truth is, within the U.S. alone, greater than 32 million folks, together with 5.6 million kids, have meals allergic reactions. There are such a lot of of us coping with the identical challenges. It may be exhausting to search out fast, handy meals, and we are sometimes made to really feel like our allergic reactions – which might be life-threatening – are burdensome or a nuisance to others. I noticed that the recipes and tips I’d realized from my very own expertise residing with meals allergic reactions may assist different folks.

My mission with Octofree is to normalize and rejoice meals allergic reactions and intolerances by offering stunning, calming assets that empower folks to create secure, straightforward and scrumptious meals, sort out the challenges that meals allergic reactions current with ease and join with each other in a optimistic and supportive surroundings.

How did you come to find your meals allergic reactions?

I used to be on a area journey in elementary faculty once I took a chew of a chocolate chip cookie and out of the blue my lips and tongue began to swell. It turned out the cookie had walnuts in it, so my dad and mom took me to an allergist, and that’s how I found my anaphylactic allergy to walnuts and pecans. I noticed I had a dairy intolerance a lot later, in my early 20s. I’d been having debilitating abdomen aches for years, and a physician really useful I strive chopping out dairy. It was simpler stated than accomplished. So many meals, in eating places particularly, have hidden dairy elements, however as soon as I obtained the grasp of it and eradicated all merchandise made with cow’s milk, my abdomen aches disappeared.

Do you’ve gotten any classes for our readers about dramatically altering your consuming habits?

It will get simpler when you discover ways to grasp ingredient substitutions (join my emails at octofree.com/subscribe, and I’ll ship you a free substitutions chart for frequent elements corresponding to butter, flour, nuts and eggs). It could actually undoubtedly be overwhelming at first, although. After my husband realized that his eczema was the results of gluten and soy allergic reactions, and I already was dairy illiberal, I bear in mind standing within the grocery retailer pondering, “Okay, what CAN we eat?”

However when you get used to cooking for allergic reactions, issues get an entire lot simpler – and in lots of instances, simply as scrumptious. There at the moment are so many great manufacturers that make gluten-free, dairy-free staples like flour, cheese alternate options, bread alternate options, and so forth., that make it a lot simpler to create an authentic-tasting meal with out allergens than it was once I first began. It doesn’t need to be exhausting or sophisticated. Many of the meals I make take half-hour or much less, and plenty of might be prepped forward of time and frozen.

Liz’s 4-Ingredient Sesame Hen Tenders. (📸: @octofree)

Name out a few of your favourite recipes or upcoming options that we will stay up for in your weblog.

The 4-Ingredient Sesame Hen Tenders are really easy, and so they’re actual crowd pleasers for the entire household (children included). And a scrumptious shock was the High-8-Free Scalloped Potatoes, which began as an Instagram problem. Subsequent week, I’m planning to publish a roundup of top-eight-free recipes to inventory your freezer for spring and summer season. I’m particularly enthusiastic about that one as a result of I feel it’ll actually assist folks to have handy, contemporary, secure, selfmade meals readily available.

How do you overcome the restrictive mentality with meals allergic reactions and as a substitute concentrate on embracing allergic reactions with extra of an abundance mentality?

That is such an excellent query and actually sums up how I like to consider residing with meals allergic reactions and intolerances. I’m an optimist by nature, and I prefer to concentrate on the chances of what I can eat and create relatively than lamenting what I can’t. I’ve been cooking this fashion for thus lengthy now that it’s second nature; I see a basic or beloved recipe and instantly begin fascinated by how I can modify it so my household and I received’t miss out. There are additionally plenty of shortcuts that I’ll embrace on my weblog, like getting ready freezer meals, buying top-8-free licensed snacks, constructing trusted relationships with native eating places and making meals that require minimal effort. Having a optimistic, artistic angle goes a great distance.

What’s your objective for Octofree?

I’d like to create an area the place folks really feel like they’re getting nice recommendation and recipes from a trusted good friend. I’d additionally prefer it to be a spot the place folks can construct a way of camaraderie and shared expertise. Ultimately, I’d prefer to create an Octofree seal that can be utilized on product packaging and within the home windows of collaborating eating places to determine merchandise and eateries which can be secure for folks with allergic reactions, and an app to make it simpler to entry and type my content material. My objective for the very close to future is to launch an e-cookbook, hopefully in January 2022. Keep tuned!

The place do you want get allergy pleasant meals in Pittsburgh?

Curiously, I don’t know of any eating places round right here which can be formally top-eight-free, however there are many nice choices that may accommodate for allergic reactions. With COVID-19 restrictions, we haven’t eaten in eating places in any respect previously 12 months, however as restrictions carry, I can’t wait to check out Bar Botanico in Lawrenceville, which I’ve heard could be very accommodating.

Extra thrilling information this month: Gluten Free Goat is relaunching as a wholesale/retail kitchen, and also you’ll have the ability to get their pastries at Adda Espresso & Tea Home, Mediterra Bakehouse, the Speckled Egg and different espresso retailers and breweries round city. I really like that they’re additionally providing a service the place you’ll be able to order pastries for pickup or supply straight to your house, and add curated objects by native artisan makers corresponding to honey, tea, spices and specialty espresso.

We couldn’t dwell with out Naturally Soergel’s within the North Hills – they inventory all the great things, together with objects I can’t discover wherever else.

And Contemplate the Lilys is a top-eight-free bakery in New Citadel that I’ve been ordering a whole lot of novelty desserts from these days, together with pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and lovely bunny and chick cookies for Easter.

All through the month of April, we’re that includes sustainable practices and companies in The Incline. Inform us the way you incorporate sustainable practices into your kitchen.

Completely – it’s essential to me to be as sustainably-minded as attainable in my residence kitchen. I meal plan each week, and purchase meals accordingly, so we by no means find yourself with a lot waste. We additionally cook dinner nearly the whole lot at residence, which cuts down on reusable takeout containers, and we use glass straws and material napkins. I attempt to help native farmers and makers as usually as attainable and cook dinner based on what’s in season regionally to chop down on my carbon footprint, and nearly all the time purchase natural elements. In fact, we recycle the whole lot we will – and attempt to provide you with artistic methods to make use of up elements. When doubtful, it might probably in all probability go in a soup or a stir fry!

While you’re not working in PR or plugging away at your weblog, what else do you love to do across the ‘Burgh?

The pandemic has helped me to comprehend how easy pleasures might be so rejuvenating – I’ve been strolling and mountain climbing in North Park with buddies and spending time exterior at McConnells Mills and Moraine State Park with my husband and son. There are such a lot of great points of interest in Pittsburgh, like Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which additionally occurs to have a really accommodating café; the Andy Warhol Museum; the Nationwide Aviary; and the Carnegie Museums. And I’m a significant ebook worm – I like to finish each day with a superb learn.

What native enterprise do you suppose deserves a shoutout (and why)?

412 Meals Rescue – for the work they do to fight each meals waste and starvation. They’re capable of redirect completely good contemporary meals from grocery shops and eating places on to individuals who want it most. Through the pandemic, they created new packages together with a house supply service that operates like a DoorDash for good, and Group Takeout, which pays restaurant and repair business staff to organize nutritious meals for the meals insecure. Co-founder and CEO Leah Lizarondo is such an inspiration, and is all the time innovating alongside her workforce. I can’t say sufficient about them.

What’s a mission you’re engaged on (large or small) and the way can The Incline readers show you how to with it?

The primary mission I’m engaged on proper now could be constructing my viewers by means of my electronic mail listing and Instagram. Join electronic mail at octofree.com/subscribe, and discover me on Instagram at @octofree.

By Francesca Dabecco


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