Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

What a week! I spoke during the online Food Allergy Wellness Summit on a topic close to my heart: Living with food restrictions in college. As a nonfiction writer, I love to research and I read everything available to prepare for this interview. I have enough material to write a book! Well, at least a few blog posts.

I’d like to thank the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and Food Allergy Research and Education for providing PDFs of their college-related handouts. Also, my appreciation to Well Amy, Surf Sweets, and Carrie S. Forbes, author of The Everything Gluten Free College Cookbook, for generously donating giveaways for those who signed up to follow this blog. (A little bribery never hurts. Wink, wink.)  Lastly, kudos to Crystal Sabalaske of Cluttershrink for organizing this valuable summit to help families with food allergies and for including me with such an impressive list of speakers.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

Last night I grabbed a glass of wine and a Daiya pizza–by the way, the crust has been greatly improved!–and listened to NFCA’s webinar on Gluten-Free Labeling with Tricia Thompson, RD. She’s the dietitian behind Gluten Free Watchdog, which if you aren’t following you should be! I learned so much about the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rules and I’m going back today to re-listen. It’s a lot to digest (pun intended)!

Good News: NFCA will be providing the webinar on their website. so you can listen, too. Check here later today.

On a sad note, this week I also learned a nonprofit task force I’ve co-chaired with a good friend would be ending. For 12 years my friend and I provided support to high-risk pregnant mothers on bed rest in local hospitals. We’d both been on bed rest during our pregnancies, and I delivered a baby 12 weeks early. We were the substitute families for these women whose families weren’t always available (we live in a military community). It’s hard to have the door close on something we believed in so much.

But as the saying goes–when one door closes, another opens. I truly believe helping others with celiac disease, food allergies and EoE is my new calling. This blog is just the start. If you have ideas for how I can do more to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Okay, enough musings–on to a few morsels!

As I’ve mentioned more than a few times here, I react to soy worse than any of my other allergens. So when I saw Soy Allergy Survivor’s helpful one-page soy list I immediately printed it. Because I have so many allergies including corn and dairy which can hide in many, many foods, I always appreciate guides like this one.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

Speaking of hidden allergens and labeling, which seems to be a theme this week, a new FDA consumer report, Finding Food Allergens Where They Shouldn’t Be, says the FDA is working to reduce undeclared allergens on labels by:  researching the causes of these errors; working with industry on best practices; and developing new ways to test for the presence of allergens. From September 2009 to September 2012, about one-third of foods reported to FDA as serious health risks involved undisclosed allergens. This is frightening, to say the least. You can help the FDA by reporting  food-allergic reactions to the FDA consumer complaint coordinator in your district. 

I’ll end with a little gossip. Who doesn’t like gossip? A little bird told me that the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference would be held in a different state than Nevada next year. Turns out it’s true! Pop on over to their Facebook page to learn more. If you aren’t familiar with FABlogCon, it’s a wonderful conference and opportunity to connect with the food allergy community and learn from experts. It’s for everyone–not just bloggers.  I, for one, am pretty excited about a new venue in a new state.  Come to think of it Colorado would be an excellent choice . . . hint, hint.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14 first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Making Mayo with Colette Martin (The Allergy-Free Pantry)

I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while growing up so I wasn’t much of a cook when I left home. My husband will attest to that. Most of what we ate came out of a cardboard box, the freezer aisle of the grocery store, or Pizza Hut. Then there was that year, two kids still in diapers, when I got most of our food from the Schwan’s delivery guy. When my husband couldn’t button his pants and I hadn’t lost any post-pregnancy weight, I decided I needed to learn to cook.

Out came the wedding gift crockpot. We ate a lot of beef stew and chicken with potatoes for a long, long time.

No one in our young family had food allergies (that we knew of). While my kids grew into young adults, we blissfully ate all types of foods without any worries—-until yours truly developed multiple food allergies and celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic esophagus).

That was the game changer.

Suddenly I had to eliminate gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt), dairy (no more cheese!), soy, eggs (are there eggless cookies?), and more foods. It was hard. Really, really hard.  What I struggled with most was finding the staples I relied on for decades . . .  salad dressing, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, and marinades, to name a few. Even the staples that were supposed to be “allergy-friendly” contained at least one of my allergens or were not certified gluten-free.

I was still struggling with my new way of eating and cooking when I met Colette Martin on the shuttle bus heading to the  Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas. Because I knew Colette was the author of a well-respected cookbook on allergen-free baking and because she was pretty much captive on the bus, I complained to her about how I couldn’t find any decent allergy-free mayo.

Turned out she was in the middle of writing her next cookbook and she was working on a mayonnaise recipe! (I didn’t admit this at the time, but I ‘d never even considered making my own mayo from scratch! Who does that?).

Fast forward eight months. A reader’s copy of The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts (The Experiment, September 2014) by Colette Martin arrives in the mail! Of course, I immediately flip to the mayo recipe.

Oh-oh. Sounds kind of complicated for a novice like me. First, I have to make “eggs” using flaxseed, which I just so happen to have in my pantry because I buy all the food-allergy cooking ingredients but never actually cook with them. I add water to the flaxseed and make the “eggs.”

I follow the steps to make the mayo using a hand-mixer that I’ve moved  into three houses but have never plugged in.

 

Hmmm, not so difficult after all.

Wait!  This mixture is actually starting to look like mayo! Using my finger, I put a little on my tongue. It tastes like mayo. Maybe even a little better than what I remember mayo tasting.

I decide to make Colette’s potato salad. Did I mention I have really missed potato salad since becoming allergic to eggs/mayo?

Allergy-Free Short Ribs and Potato Salad

 

 

I serve the allergy-free potato salad and short ribs to my family. I don’t tell them about the flaxseed, which might turn them off.  No one notices the mayo is eggless or made with flaxseed–they all help themselves to seconds.

_________________________________

Since that fateful day of making mayo, The Allergy-Free Pantry hasn’t left my kitchen island. Using this book, I now make my own allergen-free ketchup and mustard and barbecue sauce. I’m planning to branch out to crackers in a few weeks. For anyone with food restrictions, this cookbook will become your most-used kitchen tool. You can pre-order a copy today at Powell’s, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.  Thank you to Colette Martin for writing this book and for sharing her flaxseed mayo and potato salad recipes (below).

Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

 Potato Salad

Makes 10 to 12 servings

 Friends and neighbors will have no idea that this allergen-free version of potato salad was made without traditional mayonnaise or off-the-shelf salad dressings. Instead, Flaxseed Mayonnaise (page 99) is used to make a salad with added fiber and essential fatty acids—and that tastes marvelous! Add some blue potatoes, if you can find them.

 Even though this potato salad contains no eggs or dairy, be careful not to let it sit out longer than an hour; it’s the potatoes, not the mayonnaise, that contain the bacteria that can make you sick.

10 to 12 medium Yukon Gold and Red Gold potatoes, with skins, cubed

1 teaspoon salt

About 5 cups (1200 ml) water

1 medium red onion, diced

2 tablespoons diced Dill Pickles, optional

½ cup (120 ml) Flaxseed Mayonnaise (see below)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Place the potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender but not falling apart.
  3. Place the potatoes in a strainer and run cold water over them for 30 seconds to halt the cooking. Drain the potatoes well.
  4. Combine the onion, pickles (if desired), flaxseed mayonnaise, herbs, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and stir to coat.
  5. Cover and chill the potato salad for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Flaxseed Mayonnaise

Makes 1¼ cups (300 ml)

 Because this mayonnaise starts with flaxseeds rather than eggs, it has the benefit of being both healthier and tastier than traditional mayonnaise. Even if you aren’t allergic to eggs, this might just be the best sandwich topping you have ever tried!

 Use measuring cups with a spout to measure the oil; this will allow you to pour the oil directly into the container for your blender when making mayonnaise.

2 Flaxseed Eggs

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (measured after grinding) or flaxseed meal

6 tablespoons warm water

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Mustard, or ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup (120 ml) organic canola oil

½ cup (60 ml) light olive oil

  1. Combine the flaxseed eggs, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass or the container for your immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Pulse four or five times to combine the ingredients.
  2. With the blender running continuously, pour a few drops of canola oil into the container. The slower you pour, the better. The mixture will start to become creamy as emulsification occurs.
  3. Continue blending and adding oil in a slow trickle until all of the oil is incorporated; add all of the canola oil first and then the olive oil. If the oil starts to pool on top of the mixture, slide your immersion blender up and down ½ inch, or stop pouring until the oil combines.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The mixture will set further as it chills.

To substitute

A single oil or any combination of oils (up to ¾ cup/180 ml total) can be used to make this mayonnaise, with the exception of coconut oil or palm fruit oil (which behave differently). Use less oil for a thinner spread.

Variation

Make Chia Seed Mayonnaise by substituting 2 Chia Seed Eggs for the Flaxseed Eggs.

Making Mayo with Colette Martin appeared first on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Happy Hug a Blogger Day!

An Allergic Foodie Gets a Facelift

I blog for one reason–and one reason only–to help people.

When I discovered I had celiac disease and multiple food allergies and eosinophilic esophagitis–all in the same year!–I felt incredibly alone with myriad questions. How would I prepare meals for a family who ate EVERYTHING when I couldn’t eat ANYTHING? Would I ever be able to eat in a restaurant safely? What about travel? What would I say to friends who invited me over to dinner?

And the biggest question of all: WHAT WILL I EAT?

An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes

 

Two years ago, I turned to blogging because I needed to voice my fears, frustrations and foibles. I also hoped that maybe, just maybe, some kind soul out there with similar issues  would write back and tell me everything would be okay.

Both happened.

I found a safe place to vent–and do so often!–and I met other food-allergic folk like me. I even attended a conference for Food Allergy Bloggers. I’ve received and given hundreds of virtual hugs.

I am no longer alone . . . and I’ve found a purpose.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Still, blogging is time-consuming. Learning how to make a “Pin-It” button is exasperating! Will someone teach me please? If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to put even more hours in. Then there’s all the social media required to promote your blog and gain readers. Social media sucks the minutes out of your day like my vacuum would if someone powered it on.  How did I know I’d become addicted to Instagram? When I returned a lovely necklace my husband gave me so I could get a new camera with Wi-Fi capability.

 

Instagram

 

After your readership grows,  your mailbox fills with requests to review products. This is not a bad thing. I’ve learned about allergy-friendly foods and cookbooks I might never have discovered on my own. By readers’ responses, they like learning about these products, too. They especially like the giveaways!

A side note to marketing gurus: If you are going to send me a gluten-free product, check my allergies. I am an allergic foodie–not a gluten-free foodie.

Here’s the ugly side of product reviews.  Sometimes when you give a “bad” review, you get slammed. Read what happened to Gluten Dude. If bloggers can’t be truthful, what’s the point of blogging at all?

At some point, a blogger looks around at the piles of paperwork, laundry and dishes and says, “Maybe I should do something this morning besides writing a post.”

Or the blogger’s partner says, “Maybe you should do something this morning besides writing a post.”

So you sit down your iPad or iPhone or walk away from your computer.. . but wait! Was that the ding of a new message? It’s an unfamiliar name–a message from a follower thanking you for your latest post!

Your heart leaps.

We bloggers want to know we are making a difference. It’s what sustains us. Especially those of us who are doing this for free.

The other day a friend with a soy allergy told me on the phone how my post on soy-free eggs allowed her to enjoy eggs again. Then she mentioned her husband who is gluten intolerant liked my post Breaking up with Dr. Oz. I’m glad she couldn’t see the happy jiggle I did . . .  or the dishes in my sink and the laundry on my floor.

Because of her kind words and the kind words of so many readers, I once again set aside the book I’ve been writing for the last five years and wrote this post.  I even gave Adventures of An Allergic Foodie a facelift; after two years, she looked a little tired.

It’s not really “Hug a Blogger Day.” I made that up.

But go ahead–hug a blogger anyway.

Happy Hug a Blogger Day! originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

An Allergic Foodie: What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

An Allergic Foodie’s Top-Ten List

Whittling down my worst restaurant experiences in 2013 wasn’t easy. This says a lot about the restaurant industry not meeting the needs of those of us who require extra help ordering off a menu and some special food prep back in the kitchen.  Here’s hoping 2014 will bring more attentiveness from wait staff, restaurant owners and managers, and chefs!

Drumroll, please . . . 

10.  Halfway through eating our gluten-free meals, the waiter says to my son and me, “The stewed peaches were cooked with flour—that’s why we served them on the side.”   —Urban Grub, Nashville, TN

9.  After clearly explaining my allergies—no gluten, dairy, soy, corn—the waitress returns to the table and says, “Is it okay to cook in butter?” (To be fair, the chef did come to my table later to confirm my allergies.)  —Craftwood Inn, Manitou Springs, CO

8.  The “gluten-free” oysters are delivered with saltines on top. When I explain I cannot have any wheat touching any food due to extreme sensitivity, the waitress says, “We’ll just take them off then.” (The oysters came back from the kitchen way too fast so I didn’t eat them.) The Famous, Colorado Springs, CO

An Allergic Foodie: What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013

 7.  I order a salad sans the cheese, croutons and candied walnuts and ask to substitute veggies for all the ingredients I can’t eat. I am charged extra for the veggies. –Every Panera Bread I’ve eaten in and most chain restaurants

6.  I order an Iced Coffee at McDonald’s. I explain I have allergies and therefore do not want cream or flavoring. The cashier charges me for an Iced Latte. I ask her to charge me for a regular coffee because that is what I get–a regular coffee with ice. The manager says they can’t do that. –-A McDonald’s somewhere on the highway between Kansas and Georgia

5.  After ordering a dairy-free sauce, I rave over the delicious gluten-free pasta and veggies. “It’s the cream that makes it taste good,” says the waiter.Eden Inn, Positano, Italy (This really happened in 2012, but it still haunts me!)

4.  The waitress, who says she has extensive allergies herself, arrives with my salad topped with cheese. I tell her the kitchen made a mistake and send it back. She leaves, turns back, and says, “Well, the dressing has cheese in it, too. Does that mean you don’t want the dressing?” Walter’s Bistro, Colorado Springs, CO

3.  Finding ordering difficult and not confident in the waiter’s understanding, I ask to speak to the chef. I am told the chef is too busy to leave the kitchen. Too many restaurants to list

Restaurants and Food Allergies

2.   During the last bite of my gluten-free and diary-free salad, I bite into a big chunk of blue cheese.  Seasons 52, Kansas City, MO

 1.  Watching a basketball game with my husband at a local sports bar, I’m excited when the bartender hands me a large gluten-free menu. I ask about the first item on the menu: Buffalo chicken wings. “Oh, you don’t want those,” she says. “They’re cooked with all the other fried foods.”  Then why are they on the gluten-free menu? “Some people just like to think they’re eating gluten-free.” Flatirons American Bar and Grill, Colorado Springs, CO

Related Posts from An Allergic Foodie

Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

Get Rid of Tipping? Those with Food Allergies Will Suffer

Food Allergies: Don’t Let Your Guard Down

What Restaurants Did Wrong in 2013: An Allergic Foodie’s Top-Ten List originally appeared at www.adventruresofanallergicfoodie.com.

Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

How do you feed a conference full of food allergic people?

One of the steps The South Point in Las Vegas took for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference was listing the ingredients in the food served in the buffet line.

Food Labeling in Buffet

This labeling made eating easy–and safe!  But such attention to detail doesn’t always happen when those of us with food allergies eat in restaurants. In fact, studies have shown:

* 24 percent of restaurant staff believe consuming small amounts of allergens are safe;

* 25 percent believe a fryer destroys allergens; and

* 25 percent believe it is safe to remove an allergen, such as shell fish or nuts, from a finished meal.

Scary, isn’t it?

Dr. Lama Rimawi, founder of Tasterie, and Nona Narvaez, founder and executive director of Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota,  offered some terrific ideas for those of us wanting to eat out and for the folks making and serving our food.

For Restaurants

*  The most important statement you can make to a food allergic person is:  I don’t know.  It’s okay if you don’t know what’s in a product used in a dish, but it’s critical to be honest.

* Training your staff.  There are three different companies that certify food allergy training.  At least one person with food allergy training should be in the restaurant when food is being prepared and served.

* Listen to your customer!  Communication is essential.

For Consumers

* If you withhold information from restaurant staff regarding your dietary restrictions, the food establishment cannot accommodate your needs.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But many diners are too embarrassed to communicate their food allergies.

* A good restaurant is going to send the chef to your table.  If they don’t, ask to speak to the chef or the manager.

* If you or a loved one has a reaction, report it to the restaurant. If that initial call never gets made, there is no tracking of the allergic episode.

* The FDA Food Code is a model code that assists governmental agencies to develop their own food safety rules. The model code is produced every four years, the last one being in 2009, and takes into consideration the best of food science to keep the public safe.  To find out what your state’s regulations are, contact your state health department.

Adult Food Allergies: You Are Not Alone

Do you ever feel like you’re the only adult with food allergies?

I sure did. When I was diagnosed, I hardly knew anything about food allergies. I’d read the horrific media accounts of children dying from anaphylaxis, and several children in my sons’ classes had peanut allergies.  My hair stylist’s grandson reacted to strawberries.  But no one in my circle of friends and family had developed food allergies later in life.

I was an enigma.  Or so I thought.

Last night at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas,  I didn’t feel so alone. Kate, a thirty-something who blogs at www.theDiaryofAnaPhylaxis.com, found out about her life-threatening allergy to lentils when she ate a bowl full–she’d eaten lentils all her life and never reacted before!  More food allergies followed for Kate.

Connie, whose in midlife like me and hosts www.DailyForage-glutenfree.com, discovered her allergy to iodine when she had a medical procedure done.  Iodine is in salt and salted foods.  How difficult avoiding salt must be!

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference

As I looked around the crowded room, eating my delicious gluten-free pasta with allergen-free pesto, I watched others squint at the ingredient signs in front of the prepared foods–how fantastic is was to have the ingredients listed by the chef!  I watched as people flipped boxes over to carefully scrutinize the ingredients. The service dog perusing the room didn’t seem unusual.  The ladies surrounding me compared their medical alert bracelets and discussed the progress of epipens.

It all felt so normal.

Here’s another post about the conference.

 

Aside

A Rash Decision

Yesterday I decided to take care of this annoying rash on my face and neck that’s been plaguing me for quite some time.  Why now?  Well, I’ll be attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference this weekend and I didn’t want to look like I’d forgotten to take off my Halloween mask.

The ironic thing is this conference is full of people with ALLERGIES.  A rash looks perfectly normal to them.  But you know, a girl likes to look good.

Went to the doctor’s and got a prescription. First pharmacy didn’t have the ointment in stock so had to drive across town to another pharmacy and wait an hour.

Then the lady at the counter looked me in the eye and said, “Did your doctor tell you how much this was going to cost?”  Never a good sign.

Image

Yep, you’re reading that right.  $166 for that tiny little tube that’s the size of cement glue!  By the way, I have “good” health insurance;  makes you wonder what I’d pay if I had “bad” health insurance.

Next I headed off to Walgreens to replace some old makeup that might be irritating my skin and to take a look at some recommended sensitive skin products. Anna at Walgreens was incredibly knowledgeable.  $100 later I was back in my car.

Image

Good news is my face is already looking better. Bad news is I spent more than the airline ticket to Las Vegas cost.

If you’ll be at the conference, please introduce yourself!  If you’re not going, I’ll be live blogging during and after the sessions … after all, I have no money left for gambling.

Related Post from An Allergic Foodie

A Tribute to Food Allergy Bloggers

“A Rash Decision” originally appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.