We Want To Know: Amanda Orlando of Everyday Allergen-Free
Do you suffer from a food allergy and find it difficult to manage your diet? Do you cook for family members or friends with food allergies but aren't sure what ingredients are safe and which are not? Or, are you just interested in learning more about food substitutions in cooking to expand your recipe repertoire? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you're going to want to meet Amanda Orlando of the food blog Everyday Allergen-Free, a site for adults and teens dealing with food allergies. Amanda is petite and speaks with a soft voice, but her passion for inspiring confidence in, and being an advocate for, those living with food allergies is bigger and louder than anything. Amanda and I met about a year ago and we instantly connected over our shared love of blogging and food, and it's my pleasure to introduce you to her today.
Long before Everyday Allergen-Free, Amanda had two things: a new camera to play around with, and a Tumblr page to post her photos on. Food was her photographic subject of choice, and despite not having recipes that accompanied the photos, this online project and fun hobby eventually led to her getting a cookbook deal. Amanda is the author and the food photographer of Allergen-Free Desserts to Delight Your Tastebuds: A Book for Parents and Kids. As the book was nearing its publication date, Amanda's agent suggested she start a blog, but it was a life-threatening encounter with a food allergen in January of 2015 that was the real catalyst for the blog's creation – Amanda experienced a severe anaphylactic reaction (after being over 10 years incident-free) to an ingredient that had not been labelled on the product's ingredient list. After a hospital stay and a long recovery (both physically, mentally and emotionally), Amanda's relationship with food was forever changed; she couldn't trust what she was eating and pretty much only ate simple foods like boiled potatoes for the longest time. Her frustrations were building up and she needed an outlet to vent them, so she closed her Tumblr page and started a self-titled blog to share her experience. In June 2016, Amanda partnered with her good friend and university roommate, Joella Almeida, to form Everyday Allergen-Free to make a difference together (Joella doesn't suffer from food allergies but is equally as passionate as Amanda in being an advocate for food allergy sufferers). The blog really struck a chord with the allergy community, as well as with companies that specialized in allergen-free foods; one of these brands sent Amanda product samples to review and the blog's readership has increased steadily from that point on. As someone who herself was having trouble finding sources of information, Amanda recognized the lack of food allergy information that was available for teens and adults. While many resources focus on children, Everyday Allergen-Free offers delicious recipes as well as other valuable information for adults, such as dealing with food allergies when traveling, allergen-free topical product reviews, and other allergen-related topics.
A fun feature that's a regular on the blog is the cookbook review series, where a guest chef is invited into the “EAF test kitchen” to make a few recipes from the book, except that any of the common allergens in a recipe are substituted with another ingredient. This is a wonderful and valuable series because it allows food allergen sufferers the chance to make recipes from these cookbooks without having to spend their own time experimenting with ingredient substitutions. I was honoured to participate in this series and play chef for the day with Amanda and Joella, and together the three of us made recipes from The Forest Feast Gatherings cookbook. You might remember it from an earlier mention on this blog in this post, and you can read/see the full feature on Everyday Allergen-Free here! But getting back to the real chefs – I'm merely an enthusiastic home cook – they've published guest features with The Drake 150's Sous Chef Amancio, and several features with celebrated chef Scott Roberts. Look out for more collaborations to come!
Another direction that Amanda wants to take with the blog is to write more about dining out. Until then, I learned Amanda's tips for eating out as a food allergy sufferer. Her number one recommendation is to always call the restaurant you're planning to go to ahead of time, especially if you've never eaten there before. Find out if they would be willing to prepare something special on the day you'll be there (fine dining restaurants in particular will usually accommodate). Also, don't be self-conscious when you're at the restaurant and speak up! Inform the staff and be specific about what you're allergic to.
With all the delicious recipes, guest chef features, and valuable allergen-free information, you're not going to want to miss a post! Follow Everyday Allergen-Free on WantCanada so you never miss a post!
Want more? Here's what We Want To Know about Amanda:
I can't start my morning without... black coffee and a banana.
I have a weakness for... non-fiction novels.
Most people don't know that I... originally intended to become an urban planner.
Currently reading... Naked, by David Sedaris.
I want... to always challenge myself to create more of the best content I can for my readers. Newer, better, and more often.
Thanks for participating in #WeWantToKnow, Amanda!
Want to meet Amanda and Joella? On behalf of Everyday Allergen-Free, they are hosting a Sips & Sweets event on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, an evening of drinks and vegan, allergy-friendly desserts. Find ticket info here. Early bird price ends August 26th.
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