A tomato allergy is a type 1 hypersensitivity to tomatoes. Type 1 allergies are commonly known as contact allergies. When a person with this type of allergy comes into contact with an allergen, such as a tomato, histamines are released into exposed areas such as the skin, nose, and respiratory and digestive tracts. In turn, this causes an allergic reaction.
Despite the fact that tomatoes and tomato-based products are some of the most heavily consumed foods in the western diet, tomato allergies are extremely rare. An individual with a tomato allergy is also prone to allergic reactions with other nightshades, including potatoes, tobacco, and eggplant. Often, people with a tomato allergy will have a cross-reaction to latex as well (latex-fruit syndrome).
Symptoms of a tomato allergy usually occur shortly after the allergen is consumed. They include:
- skin rash, eczema, or hives (urticaria)
- abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- an itching sensation in the throat
- coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or runny nose
- swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat (angioedema)
- anaphylaxis (very rarely)
Tomato allergy eczema
Eczema occurs in only about 10 percent of people with food allergies. However, tomatoes (along with nuts) are considered irritants to those with eczema. Symptoms of allergy-related eczema will typically occur immediately following exposure to the allergen and may include recurrent rashes, severe itching, swelling, and redness.
A tomato allergy can be confirmed with either a skin prick test or a blood test that detects immunoglobulin E (IgE). Avoidance is the best option, but tomato allergies can usually be treated successfully with antihistamines, and topical steroidal ointment can be useful when treating an allergic rash.
Because tomatoes are the base of so many of the dishes Westerners enjoy eating, it can be frustrating for a person with a tomato allergy to avoid the foods they love such as pizza and pasta. However, with a little ingenuity and preparation, a person with an allergy can find ways to outsmart tomatoes. Consider the following replacements:
Makes 2 servings.
- 8 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- salt to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add heavy cream. Stir in Parmesan and Romano cheese, salt, and nutmeg. Stirring constantly until melted, mix in the egg yolk. Let simmer over medium-low heat between 3 and 5 minutes. Top with extra grated Parmesan cheese. Other types of cheeses may be used if desired.
Bechamel sauce (for pizzas or pastas)
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons grated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pinch dried thyme
- 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour, salt, and white pepper. Add cold half and half and cold stock together. Stir well. Cook on medium heat and stir frequently until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the other seasonings.
Japanese Style Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce
Makes 8 servings.
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into large pieces
- 3 large beets, diced
- 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons red kome miso
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 2 tablespoon arrowroot (or kuzu), dissolved in 1/4 cup water
In a pan, add water, vegetables, bay leaves, and miso. Cover and boil until very soft (15 to 20 minutes). Puree vegetables, using leftover broth as needed. Return to pot. Sauté garlic and add the sauce along with olive oil, basil, oregano, and arrowroot. Simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste.