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North Allegheny native creates Thanksgiving e-cookbook tailored to food allergies and special diets

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There should be a dish for everyone at the Thanksgiving table, and that includes those with food allergies and special diets, according to “An Octofree Thanksgiving” author Liz Fetchin.

“An Octofree Thanksgiving” is a new e-cookbook that proves a palate-pleasing, stress-free holiday feast free of the top eight food allergens — milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat — through modified recipes of traditional favorites or new dishes that impress.

“I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is all about everybody getting together and being around the table. You can have a beautiful, colorful, flavorful dinner that is allergy-free and the family can enjoy eating,” said Fetchin, of McCandless.

Fetchin and her husband Brad discovered about 15 years ago that they had food allergies. She was allergic to nuts and dairy, while Brad couldn’t eat soy and gluten. She knew they had to start eating differently, but the allergen section at restaurants and the grocery store didn’t have many choices at the time.

So, Liz took the matter into her own hands, and her own kitchen.

“If you have multiple food allergies there are not a lot of choices,” she said. “I started cooking our meals from home and found out how much I loved it.”

A former food editor for the “Pittsburgh Magazine,” Liz always loved food and cooking but now she was on the mission. She began a blog in 2021 when her media relations business Elm Ink slowed down due to the pandemic. And the blog gained a lot of interest. Octofree offers recipes and dinner ideas, like “Host a Dinner Party for People with (and without) food allergies and Intolerances.”

“An Octofree Thanksgiving” is Liz’s first e-cookbook. With the help of her mom Diane Dice, of Allison Park, they cooked, tested and retested all of the dishes to ensure they were great tasting.

The cookbook is easy to navigate, featuring recipes for main and side dishes, drinks and desserts.

A handy ingredient substitute chart is included to tailor a dish to suit allergen needs. She is mindful that some cooks may not have access to certain ingredients, or sometimes things are just pricey. Each allergen is categorized with a handy substitution suggestion. For example, instead of milk, use an equal amount of rice, coconut or gluten-free or oat milk or regular milk.

The e-cookbook includes a shopping checklist to help simplify the trip to the store. A timeline is provided with tips on what to do in the weeks ahead of the holiday all the way to the day the guests arrive, including important benchmarks on the hours-long task of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

And someone doesn’t need to be a professional chef with the latest kitchen gadgets to accomplish these dishes.

“Anybody could cook all of these. The recipes are very adaptable,” said Liz, who has an 8-year-old son, with a dairy intolerance.

The cookbook provides printable allergy dish labels to keep the guests from guessing if they can eat a certain food.

The book provides allergy-free, tasty ideas for those who want to bring a dish to someone else’s dinner, too. She suggests her savory stuffed apples, a cored-out apple with ground turkey and wild rice.

‘It makes a beautiful presentation,’ she said.

Dairy-free mashed potatoes, three-ingredient cranberry sauce, vegan pumpkin pie, gingery apple cider mimosas are some of the other recipes that can be found in the book.

“An Octofree Thanksgiving” can be purchased via her blog at for $20. The e-cookbook can be printed out or used directly on a phone, tablet or computer.

Natalie Beneviat is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.