My Food Allergy Journey Q and A
Updated: Aug 12, 2021
Hi Everyone! I am so excited to be starting up a food allergy advocacy section of my blog. Here, I will share aspects of my life living with food allergies as well as tips from my experiences which I hope will be beneficial for you.
For this first post, I am sharing a Q and A that I made with questions about my cookbook, and my journey with food allergies so you can get to know me better. I feel like it is super important to get to know someone even if you only know them through social media. Hopefully these questions will give you a better idea about why I created my cookbook and why I love to advocate for food allergies.
First I'll start with a little more about me :)
My name is Catherine Walker and I am a senior in high school, I have been allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and quinoa for my whole life and have advocated for food allergy awareness for many years. My allergy friendly cookbook is called: Cook It Up! Delicious Recipes for Healthy Cooking was published in May 2018 and since then I have been advocating for food allergy awareness. Currently I am a FARE Teen Advisory Group member, collaborating with teens my age on food allergy advocacy work. I like to use my own experiences to teach others about dealing with food allergies. I play varsity tennis, love photography, and also participate in my school’s A Capella group. Despite having food allergies, I try to look beyond their limitations and not let them define my life.
How did I get into cooking?
Cooking has always been very important in my family. It is a way for us to all connect and have nice social time together. Ever since I was little I have cooked allergy friendly meals with my family because I am not able to eat at restaurants often. My parents always make safe, amazing meals from all different cuisines which makes it easier to manage my food allergies. In middle school I became very interested in making my own recipes to share with people with food allergies. This was a way for me to share my love of cooking with the world. Cooking has always been a part of my life and using it to advocate for food allergies has been amazing.
What inspired me to write my cookbook?
I was inspired to write Cook It Up because of how much cooking safe food impacted my childhood. I always look forward to trying new things and cooking with my family. When I became interested in creating my own recipes, my mind was always flowing with new ideas for something to make. I noticed as far as cookbooks went, there were never many teen authors, especially with allergy cookbooks. I wanted to change that and be able to provide easy, delicious, allergy friendly recipes for people like me.
What’s my favorite meal / dish to cook?
My favorite dish to cook is fried rice. I usually make this for an easy lunch and I love that you can put whatever you want on it. I usually use whatever leftover vegetables and rice we have in our fridge. Frozen vegetables are always really good to add in as well. This dish is so versatile and you can make it however you want which makes it easy to accommodate with food allergies.
What advice do I have for young adults with food allergies? And also to parents whose kids have food allergies?
For young adults, my best advice is to not let food allergies control your life. I have experienced the rude comments and the annoying looks from people, but it is important to hold your own. Advocating in the food allergy community has become such an important part of my life and I encourage anyone to get involved. I chose cooking as my way to advocate, but there are so many ways to contribute. Being a young person with food allergies can be hard, but just know that your food allergies do not define you, but you can define how you choose to live with them.
For parents with kids who have food allergies, I suggest exploring cooking if you haven’t already. This is a great way to familiarize kids with safe ingredients in a safe environment. Learning how to cook safely is a great life skill and makes growing up with food allergies much more enjoyable. I would also say to always be confident with your child. Food allergies can create many difficult situations, but having a supportive family by your side makes all the difference.
What is one of my favorite food memories growing up?
One of my favorite food memories growing up is always cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Over the years it has become more of a family activity and we all look forward to spending the day in the kitchen together. Everything we make is always allergy friendly and guaranteed safe so it is always a very special time to all be cooking a safe meal with each other.
What’s next for me? Another cookbook?!
My goal for this year is to finish writing a new book which I have been working on for awhile now. It is a project that I started during quarantine and will be an autobiographical nonfiction book titled: Through My Eyes. In the book, I explain my experiences, advice and lessons that I have learned from living my whole life with food allergies. I hope to have it published by the end of this year, so it is definitely something to look forward to!
Where can you find my cookbook?
You can find my cookbook: Cook It Up: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Cooking on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble online!
Stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon!! (and always check my instagram for recent updates on my food allergy advocacy work @cook_it_up_catherine!!)